A story about love, and the constraints around it
She could tell by his tattered clothes that the meeting had not gone well. His suit, previously fresh and ironed before the long day, was now tired and torn. His eyes darted back and forth - filled with some kind of worry about the outcome of that day. He looked quickly at her, and then away, as if still formulating the right words to express either urgency or relief. She maintained her gaze, eager for him to show her into his inner thoughts, and be a source of support and comfort for the inner vulnerability that he worked so hard to hide. She was in love with this man - from the deepest of his quiet intelligent ways to the most superficial of his bluish gray eyes. They cast upon her like a warm ocean, and squinted ever so slightly when he smiled. She absolutely lived for that - to make the most terrible of jokes and the highest mountain of puns to make him laugh the tiniest bit. But finally, they were on her again, and this time, without looking away.
She knew the urgency without him saying a word, and nodded to indicate she understood. The encounter had not gone well, and he was in danger. She didn’t need to ask questions, and frankly, she didn’t care. She grabbed his wrist, and pulled him off of the busy road into a side street. It was a brief moment for thought. Had they been seen? Would the rulers of the city be in pursuit? She knew they didn’t have much time - the gates to the city would close at sunset, whether they were there or not. At night time, all protections for guards were gone. Could they survive that? It would be unlikely they could cover the 5 miles to reach the outer city limits. They didn’t really have a choice. They would have to survive the night.
There was an old hotel a few blocks away, and it was quiet enough to look uninspiring or abandoned. The two had spoken few words since reuniting earlier in the day, and communicated with one another with gestures and glances. They had been walking slowly from block to block, pretending to have a purpose but really scouting out the area for a place of safety. They both paused in their step when the hotel came into view and considered it. A quick side glance at one another was enough, “Yes, this one.” They turned, and they approached. The door was a faded red, with an almost Victorian style that seemed out of place for the modern city.
“Perhaps this is where the mad hatter lives?”
It was another bad joke, poorly chosen, and unlikely to get a reaction. He smiled, giving her acknowledgment for the effort. “Yes, maybe. Should we go inside?”
They carefully fiddled with the knob until it clicked, turned, and pushed open the heavy door. This door seemed to be made of wood, something you just didn’t see anymore these days. Ever since the advent of weightless, indestructible plastic, the entire world had turned into a smooth lifeless sheet. Gone were the textures of wood, stone, earth, or metal. It had been advertised as a huge scientific advancement of the times - the most greatest of feats! But she felt more disconnected from her beautiful, tiny blue planet than ever. Actually, she wasn’t even sure it would appear blue anymore. And once the walls of the plastic city had been put up, she physically was.
He found a light, which turned on with an old fashioned switch, and the inner room filled with a warm glow. The stern lines of his face softened, and for the first time that day, his lips relaxed into a more peaceful posture. They both looked around. The room was filled with dolls, but not just any dolls - they were life sized, strangely fashioned with clothing from the 21st century. “Oh my gosh, I’ve read about these!” she exclaimed. They are called mannequins - back when stores existed that would sell clothing to you right in person - they could touch them and even see them on a doll like this. This might be a good place to hide. It seems like some kind of storage house, and based on the dust the night creatures likely haven’t stopped in here.”
As yes, the night creatures. We haven’t talked about them yet. The city was haunted, and since humans had discovered and broken the threshold between living and dead a hundred years earlier, humans were no longer afraid of death. They were terrified of it. They learned that after someone passes on, the energy that we call a soul moves into another dimension that was previously undetectable. It did not translate to any kind of heaven or hell, but rather a state of constant searching and anguish. These souls, or energy, would search for eternity to find resolution to the most painful occurrences they faced in the living world. They often would not find it, and after centuries of anguish and giving up, would resort to desperate expression of their sadness or anger. Some of them, a very small fraction, would somehow stumble back into the world of the living. Some of them, also a very small percentage, would find peace and gradually fade into true non-existence, possibly to be born again alongside a star, or even more rarely, into another life. The ones that remained were called creatures of the night because that is when they could most easily pass the broken threshold.
It started to get cold, and they prepared a small corner in one of the lower rooms of the hotel. You’d think a higher floor would be safer, but not with the greater number of windows. He was a gentleman and offered her the only padded blanket they found in the room. Blankets were a rare find in this day and age, as the warmth they provided had been replaced with heated sleeping pods. It was touted to be more hygienic than reusing a blanket, which in the old days, people weren’t great about regularly washing. Yet, there was something comforting about having the physical blanket. Would she take it? No, she had a better idea - the mannequins were clad in old fashioned fabric. She approached one, ruffled the cloth between her fingers, and looked up at him. The communication again happened seamlessly. They collected a small mountain of mannequin clothing to create an old fashioned bed, and then each had a place of comfort for the upcoming dark night. They piled into the corner like small children, and for a brief moment it could have been a night of camping, but without the fire. There was something magical about the Victorian hotel and the warm lights inside that put them both at ease, albeit they had softened the lights and closed the plastic curtains to not attract attention.
Dinner was a few pieces of cornbread thrown into a folded napkin from earlier that day, and it wasn’t enough for either of them, but they split it. She watched him as he ate in silence, carefully breaking off pieces of the buttery slice as not to lose a crumb. He was deep in thought, likely about the events from earlier that day. She wanted to comfort him - to jump up and embrace his shoulders and squeeze him and feel every ounce of her affection transmit. She had been in love once before, two decades earlier, and thought she’d never feel that again. But here it was - unexpected and without predictable reason. She wanted to touch the sides of his face, his short beard, and his forehead and tell him that everything would be OK. She wanted to run across entire worlds and fight the largest of beasts to protect and defend him. She wanted the barriers between them to break down. Indeed even in this unfortunate scenario, she found joy creeping up in her heart. But she pushed it down, reminding herself of the harsh reality that it’s not so easy. The formalities of common society, and the stress of living in these times, would not allow for anything except for survival. She respectfully kept her heart in an imaginary box, and had to be content with daydreams. She knew nothing about him beyond what he presented in the facade that he prepared for the world, just like everyone else, to hide everything that was real. But yet, she imagined one day he might see her too. Her daydream was broken by his voice.
“Do you want me to stay up a little longer, just to be safe?”
He was worried about the night creatures. There were stories of them finding humans, unprotected, and stealing their souls. To the human eye, the person appears to die in their sleep. But it’s really that their energy is violently taken by an unrequited, vengeful soul. Most of the city houses were stocked with protective beds, or enclosures that were scientifically designed to keep out the bad energy. But out here? They were entirely in the open. Their only defense was being hidden enough to not be found.
“No, we need our rest for tomorrow. If we are well hidden, they won’t find us here.”
Her thought came from a place of reason. She knew that the night creatures were attracted to human energy, but it needed to be at a high enough volume to be noticed. A smaller amount would likely be an animal, which they aren’t interested in. He also knew this, and nodded in agreement. “We should sleep at opposite corners of the room just to be extra careful.”
She acquiesced, picking up her bedding to move to the opposite corner of the room. She twisted a little bit inside - unhappy to be further away from him. She felt pathetic. She was a builder, and known for her skill and agility. Amongst her kind she was untouchable, demonstrating gifts that no one could understand or surpass. As a person, underneath her strength was a soft elegance enveloped in intensity. She had felt alone and like an outcast - accepting that she was different for most of her life. That meant being laughed at in the lunch line as a youngster for her darker looks. It meant walking alone in her training school, and living alone for a decade after that. It meant often being surrounded by people but feeling entirely alone. Her spirit was passionate, fiery, like a black stallion running to the top of a mountain to bite the wind. But she had learned to hide this side of herself, and present it alongside humor and self-deprecation. It was a strategy that made her less scary, and deploying it, she found it easier to interact with others. It was her closest friend that had coined it perfectly, “If they saw the real you, it would be far too threatening.” And that reflected her experience. That thought ruminated with her that night, because it pained her to do that, but her friend was right. But even the wildest of our souls have a deep desire to be loved.
Her drifting into sleep thoughts were abruptly interrupted - they had come. As if smelling a human about to get rest, the night creatures presence was all around them. While you cannot see them, you can feel their energy - like a heavy, slowed down reality where the air is suddenly thick and your body turns to stone. There is no escaping them by movement - your only chance is hold your breath and wait, and pray that they are not interested. And so she turned to stone. She slowed down her breathing and tried to control and stop the up and down motion of her chest. She shoved her energy deeper, hoping it would hide in her body as a hidden soul in a vacant shell. She squeezed her eyes to the tiniest of slits, allowing them to be closed enough to stay wet and avoid extra blinking, but still allowing her to see into the darkness of the room. What was she even looking for? It wasn’t the visual system that would be reliable, as it was the noise that she heard first - a small cry that came from the other side of the room. The creatures had found him, and were starting their process. There was nothing she could do.
At that point, the box that she used to contain her heart burst open. A flood of intensity filled her body - it was every powerful emotion and all at once - anger, adrenaline, passion, fear, hope, and love. She would live the rest of her life in the deepest of pain, if she survived this night, to see the person that she loved taken away from her. She threw caution to the wind, feeling her neck and fists tense up, and then a sudden burst of power overtook her. She was on her feet in seconds, screaming. It was a guttural stream of anguish, and fire. She felt the air thicken around her, but then suddenly, it was cool and quiet. The speed of reality had turned back to normal. For some reason, the night creatures had decided to leave. Did she really scare them away? Was her energy powerful enough to do that? There were no stories of anyone ever surviving an encounter like this before.
With her senses returning, she remembered the context of her situation, and looked to the corner to see him shaking, pale. He didn’t look conscious. She rushed over and reached for his wrist, looking for a pulse. He was still alive. His breathing was faint, but present. That’s all she needed to know. She gathered up all the blankets and wrapped him up further, with small pockets of air that would retain warmth. She stayed next to him. The night creatures would not be returning.
The morning came innocently, dancing across the horizon without shame. She hadn’t slept much that night, so she watched the sunrise in silence through a slit in the plastic curtain, surprised at how their tiny planet could continue to spin, unaware of the destruction, despite it all. His color had returned during the night, and she was comforted to see him sleeping peacefully. They would need to reach the outer limits of the city that day, because she didn’t have it in her for another night like that. As he awoke, he looked around, remembering where he was, and the situation from the night before. He looked up at her, down at his hands, and realized in a moment of epiphany that he was still alive. His formal guard dropped down, and tears started to well up around the corners of his eyes. He sat up, pushing the heavy bedding away, and catching her attention. He leaned forward and hugged her, probably a little too tightly, and allowed himself to feel. It was an uncommon moment, as the men of the city were not supposed to express emotion. It was a sign of weakness. She reached up and touched his hand near her neck, a gesture to indicate that it was OK. She allowed herself to sink into his embrace, and feel the joy in her heart start to creep up again. “I’ll always protect you,” she spoke in her head, as if maybe he could somehow read her mind.
They collected their things, and ventured out of the Victorian hotel that had failed to keep them safe the night before. The morning light was bright in contrast to the inside of their place of slumber, and they winced after opening the door. The first item of action for that morning would be food. Indeed, they could forgo it and endure hunger, but not eating would also diminish their strength. They thankfully both had currency tokens, and more than enough for quick sustenance. They decided to walk for a few miles first to reach the middle limits of the city, an area called San Aldo that housed what used to be a hispanic district. That was a term used in the old days, and was eventually hated as it grouped many different kinds of people into one. Very ironically, as the world had become better connected, everyone was almost everything, all at once. There was barely a concept of race, let alone ethnicity. Thus, previously branded areas were more indications of a kind of food or culture. Yes, despite the homogeneous gene pool, culture was alive and well. In this area, they immediately were met with the smells of fresh meats cooking and bread baking, and practically floated behind their noses to the closest food station.
“I’ll have… one of those.” she indicated as she pulled out a currency token.
She looked to her companion.
“Yes, me as well. Actually, I’ll have two.”
In the old days, the combination of meat on a thin piece of bread was called a taco. And if she remembered from her reading, there were many derivations of meats on breads. It was lucky to come across a cultural center that still provisioned them as such, as most food these days was delivered in compact forms such as squares or thick drinks, often prioritizing nutrition over any kind of enjoyment. For this cultural center, they obviously didn’t have access to the ingredients you might read about, namely green and red vegetable pieces. However, they had plenty of animals and grain, and so the combination of the meat with a bit of cheese and seasoning was absolutely excellent. They sat side by side on a small bench in the shade, and for another moment, it could have been the case that they were living a normal life, and just enjoying lunch. Both appreciated the silence of the other’s company.
“Should we continue through San Aldo, toward the North Gate?”
It was a fair question, and he paused to think about it. He had never told her what happened in the meeting, or why he had to flee. She had no guidance about what direction to take.
“No, the North Gate will be protected by the Anvil guards, we should go slightly east to the North East gate.”
Ah, a hint of the story was coming through. The Anvil guards were a police force in the city that held very strong beliefs about power. They often were dismissive of the strongest evidence from science to further their inner agenda, and achieve more control. From food stations to housing groups, many of them were now owned by the Anvil. She had a creeping feeling about what had happened in the meeting.
“It’s OK if you don’t want to talk about it.”
He paused. He knew the question was coming, and it wouldn’t be fair to keep her in the dark given that she was risking it all.
“They didn’t believe my research to show that our new processing unit was more efficient, and wouldn’t need the power of elidurium. They not only didn’t believe it, they said they would destroy my work, and me along with it.”
It was now clear why he was so afraid, and why he had left the meeting the previous day tattered and torn. They had threatened him, likely had hurt and humiliated him, and gave him no other choice.
“I didn’t want to drag you into this, but I’m so grateful you are here. I’m so grateful I’m not alone.”
It was another moment where his composure was shaking, and he was teetering on the border of vulnerability. He had worked so hard to prove the validity of his work, and none of it mattered in the corruption of their society. It was humiliating and devastating that you could find the right answer, and not only be marginalized and ignored, but have your life threatened. This was the reality of their present day, and the realization that he was forced to face. But he would not let himself fall apart, and in this moment, he pulled himself together, finished the last bite of his meal, and stood up to prepare for the rest of their journey.
Most of the day was careful navigation of the city streets, looking out for a badge with orange and red that was indicative of the Anvil. It was interesting to see the change in the city landscape, almost like a gradient, as they moved between cultural centers. One center was painted in blues and purples, and the blues transitioned to blue grays, and the grays to mostly pure gray. She remembered a military academy from her reading, was it called East Point? The environment was described as entirely gray, and a place prone to finding oneself feeling the same as the surrounding buildings. This same thing was happening to her now - she felt her joy being sucked out as if in a vacuum, and into the gray abyss. She stayed close to him, not just for physical protection, but emotional too.
It was close to evening by the time they reached the North East Gate. And even from a quarter of a mile away, their hearts sank. The gate was flanked with military vehicles, an obvious belonging to the Anvil. They likely were waiting for him. He realized this at the same time, and glanced to his left, a flash of fear in his eyes. The Anvil weren’t messing around. When they decided you were a threat, you were simply eliminated. There would be no trace, and no hesitation. They needed a new plan.
“This isn’t going to work,” he said.
He didn’t need to say that, and she didn’t need to respond - they already both knew this. At this point in time, anyone else would have abandoned him. He was a target, on the list for elimination, and his pursuers would have no issue including anyone that supported the continuation of his life. It was considered a crime to go against the wishes of the Anvil. It was much less a police force, and much more a dictatorship, although they couldn’t be certain about the person at the top.
She was running out of ideas, and really tired, but thankfully he wasn’t. He pulled her out of the evening sun in the street, and toward the door of the nearest shop. It was a pretty, dark green, and contrasted nicely against the oranges of the city. This wasn’t a cultural center, but rather a part of the city that had been slowly taken over by the Anvil. They had no idea - it must have been a recent happening. The shop was a bit dusty, and it took a few moments for their eyes to adjust. It was filled with - books? She hadn’t seen paper in quite a long time - paper is hard to come by without trees. These books must be ancient.
“They aren’t for sale! But you can read them.”
The shrill voice of an old man arose from the dust. He was sitting in the back, hunched up in a wooden chair, another artifact of previous times, and with his nose deep in a book. But he looked up upon their entrance, almost surprised to see anyone enter his shop.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
She paused. How could they ask for help without knowing if this shop was owned by the Anvil? Or if it was, was this old man loyal to them? She would need to ask unassuming questions to find out.
“We are from the Southern parts, and are interested in learning about the origins of this part of the city. Does that go as far back as some of these books?”
The old man paused. His eyes filled with emotion, and there was a story behind them.
“The books are much older, but I have lived through the life of this part of the city.”
He continued to tell them that he was born there, before the time of the Anvil guard, and had witnessed a beautiful, thriving region with diverse people and economy shrivel into a place of control and sadness. Those that had not left were primarily hiding, or had disappeared. He feared for his life every day, and only saw it as a matter of time until the Anvil considered him a threat. She looked to her companion. He was someone that carefully put together his thoughts before responding, and the quiet before he spoke was a soft, comforting moment that she enjoyed to be in.
“We need to leave the city, but we are also afraid, and for the same reasons.”
He had decided to be forward with the old man, and provide just enough information to indicate that they wanted help to leave, but without providing details. The old man thought for a moment, but not very long, because he already had an answer.
“There is a way, but it is dangerous, as you might be running out of time.”
He continued to describe a passage that ran under the city. It would be possible to traverse it, albeit carefully, to emerge into the meadow beyond. She paused and held her breath - a meadow? She only remembered such a thing from her childhood. It was rumored that flowers and grasses still grew there, but she wondered if now it would be a barren landscape. But it didn’t matter - they had found a way. They only needed one! She cut him off mid-sentence to thank him, not thinking that he might have more to say.
They left the shop, and skirted along the edge of the building to the next side street. Just as the old man had told them, there was a small building at the end of the street three blocks away. It was vacant, and looked at best unassuming, at most dangerous. The old man had delivered a dire message that they must be careful, quiet, and move swiftly. They assumed this was to not attract attention of the Anvil guard. They looked at one another, walked through the sharp orifice that served as a door, and ventured into the darkness. The air in here had a different feel, not heavy, but something else. She almost felt as if she was floating through the caverns. The path was strangely always clear in front of them despite the darkness, but the feeling didn’t subside. It was the same feeling as when you experience an accident and time slows down, but the exact opposite. She wasn’t sure if he was feeling the same, but she knew she wanted to get out of this passage quickly. She could barely gather her thoughts because they were too dense - there were too many of them in a small temporal unit.
It wasn’t clear to her how long they were walking through those passages, but at some point she had reached out for his hand, just to ensure that they did not lose one another. They emerged from the passage, this time into the moon light. It wasn’t clear how much time had passed, but she was definitely tired.
As they released hands, she looked down at her own, and her stomach dropped. The feeling of temporal confusion was not accidental or imaginary. Her hands were wrinkled and frail, as if she had aged four decades. Her next natural reaction was to reach up to her face, and she found the same. But her hair was not white or gray - it was the same deep, mahogany brown, so dark that it looked black. It shone in the evening light, and reflected it, just as did her tears. Despite the change, the elegance that she carried herself with remained in her careful motions.
He looked at her, also in shock, and looked to his own hands. They were unchanged, and possibly he had become younger. He grabbed her hand again to comfort her. There was a moment of silence between the two, and then he spoke.
“It was a cave of time. I’ve only heard about them in stories. They are unpredictable.”
No one would dare to enter the passages because of that unpredictibility, and the old man likely was going to tell her that. He had started to allude to it with his mention of “running out of time” but she had not let him finish. It was her that was crying now, not tears of fear about death, but rather of the mismatched lifetime that she would never get to live. She looked up at him, and for the first time, saw a deeper emotion in his eyes. Could he see her?
“I’m so tired,” she gasped.
And that was the predominant feeling. It wasn’t clear how old she was, but it could have easily been four or five decades later, making her in her 80s or 90s. The human lifespan had gone through innovation to lengthen it by natural means such as good health and nutrition, and meager attempts at unnatural means that tended to fail. It had also gone through many periods of pandemics and death that would destroy previous centuries of progress. She tried to be grateful that, despite not experiencing those years, her body seemed to be capable of reaching that age. But she didn’t have much left.
It was then that she finally saw the meadow. It was beautiful and vast, and somehow still verdant with small whisps of flowers. The trees were gone, but other plant life had persisted. Indeed there was still some small hope in this world, and that filled her heart with joy again. Even if she would not live to experience it, he would have some semblance of a future. They sat together that evening in a small dirt pit that must have been used for fires. They talked about their lives, tried to approach the recent adversity and sadness with humor, and contemplated what must have happened during their journey through the passage. What they did not understand, and still could not measure, was the influence of energy on the various magical phenomena that still happened in the world. But they could guess that the same energy that gave her intensity and power to fend off energy from the night creatures was the same energy that would feed into the passage of time. Not having energy was not weakness, but rather just a different state of being. But none of it mattered to her. He was outside of the city limits, and safe. That small parcel of the night, and spending time together, was a gift that felt like an immense span of time, where they laughed and talked without a care in the world. But gosh, she was so tired. She looked up at him, with her same, deep brown eyes that shone with hints of green that she carried as a young woman. It was time to go to sleep, and she wanted to gaze on him one more time.
The sleep came peacefully, and deeply, and that was it. For years there was nothing, and then one unexpected day, she opened her eyes. It was an impossible happening - one in a billion. She was in a meadow, still, but this one somehow more beautiful and perfect, as if she had traveled back in time to when the world was still green. It likely was a different world entirely. It was fresh with lines of green and dewy from some previous night. The world was predominantly blues, yellows, and green, and it was different and lovely than how she remembered vision before. She tried to orient herself in her head. Her mind was full, and everything was the same, but it was also all different. Firstly, she was alone. Secondly, she wasn’t sure she was herself. After the temporal change, she couldn’t even be sure of what that felt like anymore. But the tiredness was gone, and replaced with the vigor she felt as a young woman. Her eyelashes felt longer and thicker, and her body longer and stronger. She looked down to see not a human form, but a glossy black coat that reflected the sunlight. It was a deep mahogony brown, not quiet black, but looked black to the untrained eye. It was her, and possibly the truest form she ever felt. No longer was her intensity locked in her heart, but she felt it radiating from her core, from her limbs, head and heart. She suddenty had a strange feeling that she wasn’t alone, and indeed she wasn’t. She looked up and saw a beautiful horse, also black in color, with dark soulful eyes. She looked up at her mother, and she knew instantly she was loved.
As a young mare she was filled with joy and life, and bantered around the fields, running up the hillsides with speed and grace, and dancing across the meadows. The more she grew, the more her previous life faded, and the taste of fresh grass and warmth of the sun on her back was all she knew. As she grew, she started to explore further and further from home, but always coming back to see her mother. This new universe was fresh, untouched, and not cluttered with the greed and artificiality of her previous one, and she thrived. In a world devoid of artificial building, she could no longer be a builder, and so the life she adopted was one of an adventurer. She would run long distances and try to race the horizon. She would travel to far and new lands to taste the fruit of a tree she had never seen before. And in this new life she grew into the beautiful stallion that was always a part of her soul - regardless of the human gendering placed around the term - she found a new love for simply living. She grew into a powerful, muscular adult, and ran up mountains just to bite the wind. In this world, there was no shame in being intense, powerful, and fiery.
Centuries passed, and eventually she had completely forgotten about her previous life, or even lives, as there could have been lives before her human form that she did not remember. She was incredibly lucky to somehow be chosen by the universe to come back again, and this time, in a form that was more matched to her soul. Yet, the universe was also cruel, because even in this new beautiful world, she was still alone. But perhaps this would not last forever. Her species had an immensely long lifespan - thousands of years if no ailment intervened. She saw hundreds of mornings and moons, and many more lands and delicious fruits than she could count.
It was during an early morning that she found herself at the top of a windy hill, there to feel the breeze, and look into the distance at the beauty of her world. It was there that she felt a presence, and realized she was not alone. At first it was fear, but then the fear melted into familarity. Despite not remembering her previous life, she felt his presence before she saw him. She was flooded with a range and combination of emotions that she had not experienced during this lifetime. It was hope, longing, love, and intensity of passion and protection. She whirled around with all four legs to face another horse, just like herself. But no, not really. He was much larger, and a lighter brown that might only look dark when you removed the sun. The two stared at one another in silence, trying to understand the mutual understanding between them. He looked at her from toe up to her long snout, and as his eyes rose, she finally was looking into them. They were blue, a blue gray like a warm sea, and she felt a rush of joy fill up her heart. It was him. It took hundreds of years, and possibly more that she couldn’t remember as being non-existent, but the universe had brought them together again. He looked at her carefully, a smile overtaking his eyes, and he too was overwhelmed with emotion. For a brief moment, he remembered. The woman that he loved had died in her sleep that night, as an old woman, and he was left to endure the rest of his human life alone. He had found purpose and passed the time, but always felt an emptiness in his heart. He was filled with regret that he had not had the courage to at least tell her that he cherished her while he had the chance. But now, he was certain he had found her. He wasn’t sure why or how, but it didn’t matter.
He was not burdened with the same formality that guided him as a human, and easily trotted up to her. This was the closest she had ever been to see his eyes, and she felt her heart melting. He nuzzled into the mane of her neck, and she into his. They were two hearts, one wild and one peaceful like the sea, finally allowed to love. And that is exactly what they did, for many thousands of years after, two forces of energy in a wild world.
Sochat, Vanessa. "Wild World." @vsoch (blog), 16 May 2023, https://vsoch.github.io/2023/wild-world/ (accessed 01 Jun 23).