There was a subtle threat in her way of walking, swinging her hips, thumbs hooked at the waistline, shoulders hunched, head down, long neck parallel to the ground. She would often sniff the air, as if she was still walking through Birch groves and across sunlit glades splashed white with Lilies of the Valley, through the lush sticky green of Alder leaves, through the Pine woods, trampling new-born Spruces and acorns, though her sense of smell has been dulled by the many years of smoking, and snorting, despite all that she would, once in a while, catch the sweet odor of a King Bolete at a busy city intersection, and one time she even found one growing on her own lawn, picked it carefully, breaking the meaty cream sponge of the cap in half and touching it to her tongue. That was her way.
When she was four, she was still a cub, wagging her tail, licking her mother’s hand, leaping from the bed onto the recliner and back to the bed. Back then her fur was still soft and her large brown eyes bright and full of joy. She preferred crawling to walking. But growing up she learned, in leaps and bounds, that such oddity wasn’t acceptable, and so she eliminated all such oddities in herself, as an adolescent blended in, a cunning bitch, swinging her hips, dangerous and secretive. She smelled her first blood on a clover leaf, in a sunlit grove, during a class trip to an old abandoned church, after they all were finally let off the bus, and the boys were directed to the left, the girls to the right, something she never shared and barely remembered now. She did remember sharing a clove cigarette with her soft blond girlfriend, out on the front steps of her mother’s house, when the cool sparkly shawl of the sky fell, purple blue, after she already lost him, the wealth of his black hair and his bright eyes, lost his scent in the grass. They shared this uncanny ability to pick out the sour scent of iron, and the solitude that now encompassed her completely, without him. Somehow she stood out in the crowd, though she fit in in every other way, perhaps it was her habit of stopping sharply in the middle of a sidewalk and smelling the air, there was that oddity about her.
She thought her anxiety to be too subtle for others to see, she searched for something, a trace of the overgrown path, lush green in the city, in her daily life, normal as anyone else’s, amidst the many worries and concerns. The instinct prevailed, the winter prevailed, though the ice would burn the delicate pads on her feet, she liked it better, the traces were clear, no new growths in the supple snow. In the ice her eyes remained dull, cheeks sunken, there was only one other time in her life when her eyes shone, with him and eager to please, barking too loudly trying to remember how to produce the sounds, wagging her tail, snuggling into the pillow under his hand, and not even wondering, until it happened, if she could be replaced.