Pure As The Wolf-driven Snow
By Isidora Stefanovic
His face erupted with loud spontaneous laughter, that I’d learn was his calling card. I looked over at him, instantly captivated. His auburn floppy hair glistened in the summer sun, a thick strand obscuring one of his moss-coloured eyes. His boyish form, a mere one year away from adulthood, masked beneath his school uniform.
New to the school, the girls in my class felt it was upon them to educate me out of the classroom. They took great pains to inform me of those considered to have acceptable social graces, others-persona non grata. I rapidly learnt the boy’s name was Nickolas, a Senior like us, but ‘crazy’ they assured me vehemently. Ignoring their disapproval, I looked on.
I felt a pang of something new to me, a longing to bask in his glow-even if for only a while. Anxiety clenched my insides. This inexplicable boy elicited a feeling of warmth in the depths of where I assumed that illusive ‘soul’ of mine was kept. It enveloped me, its sensation spreading rapidly to my entire body. I wanted to run, to escape it.
The scars I carried were invisible to the naked eye, but I knew they remained. In my dark moments they made me feel the edges of their cuts once again, retelling their horror stories. Stifling the calls of my inner demons I summoned what I could of my courage, feeling a flicker of something reminiscent. Hope. I vowed to meet him, and satisfy my curiosity.
A year passed, and we became inseparable. ‘Young puppies’ we were called, biting, squealing, cuddling. I was a stray, and he became my home. Before Nickolas, I had traversed the rocky path with cuts on my feet, fighting for survival. Now, I had someone to carry me on their back.
The mere thought of life without him was unbearable. When all others collapsed around me, he stood strong. I fell and bled, he tended to my wounds. Although I remained unsure of my worth, he loved me enough for all who hadn’t-deeply, unremittingly.
We became war buddies, navigating the trenches of young adulthood. But times were tough, and jealousy, immaturity and insecurity left holes in our shields. The closer we got, the more his love devoured me, the spirit of Othello glimmering in his eyes. I felt my light beginning to wane, on the precipice of being extinguished.
He began to fight against his instinct to love me. Words cut through me so deeply I felt perpetually wounded. Aggression replaced tenderness. My defects were too much for him to engineer a solution to. Yes, we were puppies once. But he soon realized I was raised by Wolves. I feared I could never overcome the flaws of my breeding in his eyes.
His heart was breaking under the strain. He wanted to cure me of my faults, to forgive, forget, love me as he knew he could. But he didn’t look me at me the way he once did. The pure ice of our youth had melted into a puddle of my tears.
I knew I had to break his heart, for he didn’t even know it was already breaking. To give him a chance to love anew, to see the purity of the snow once more: I had to sacrifice the puddle I could have lived in forever.
I remembered what the girls at school had once said. They were right-he was crazy. Crazy to have loved me.
Years have passed, and I question whether I will ever lose the nostalgic longing for my first love. The scars on my heart are still, even now, somewhat protected. They haven’t disappeared, but there lies a small part that will always belong to Nickolas. He preserves the small part of me that felt his love, and knew I was worth loving.
We all long for the love story to have a happy ending. But life doesn’t always give you the simple solution to what is oft a Schrödinger-type problem: I both loved him, and do love him. The ache of going through life without him is nothing compared to the knowledge that he has a chance to find happiness. Whether he knows it, or not, he is free.
In his absence now rests an inked Wolf on my ribcage. Protector. Warrior. Loved. The demons within now call upon regret and doubt as their biggest weapons. But I can now resist their pull. My weapon obliterates them with little more than a glance in their direction. The howl of my Wolf chases them away, leaving me at peace.
Maybe our puddle will clear one day, and snow will fall again…only the Universe knows. But my wolf, standing in the snow, delivers faith that the mere memory of snow is strong enough to carry me forever.