Bear with me

Merle is in his tiny cabin. The cabin far away in the woods. He is holding his guitar. When he realizes where he is, he puts down the guitar, carefully.

He hears crashing outside right away.

He looks. Bear. It rises onto it’s back feet. It is a sow, with cubs! Three!

No, thinks Merle, two cubs. And: “Kurt!” he yells, “Run!”

Kurt just looks at him and turns back to the cubs. The sow is looming outside. This is wrong, why isn’t she attacking Kurt? Kurt is pushing and wrestling the cubs, who are large.

The sow knocks on the cabin wall. “Merle?” says the sow.

Merle doesn’t say a word. This is all wrong.

“Merle?” says the sow bear. She is talking in bear noises but it’s also words in his head. “Well,” says the sow, “you said you could read my mind.”

Merle does not answer. He shakes his head. “Kurt.” he whispers.

The sow bangs on the wall again with a great paw. “You said you’d always be my friend. I miss hiking with you. The rest of it, forget it. Phone, texting, the other stuff. Let’s just hike.”

Merle remains still.

The sow drops to all fours and then sits, her front paws on her back paws. The forest is greening at the tips of the conifers. The grass is electric green from the rain. Kurt and the cubs roll around. Kurt looks ok, really.

“I gave it 50/50 from the start,” says the sow. It’s a meditative growl, if that can be imagined. “I thought you could choose. It was a lie that you could read my mind. You read what you wanted to read. I let you. I thought you’d either keep your promise or break it. I thought you could choose, but maybe I am wrong. Maybe that’s the thing about trying to control other people: if you realize that they are not controlled, you never speak to them again.” The bear rocks forward and back a little. She does not look cute. She looks lethal and smells like bear.

Her mouth opens wide and tongue lolls. “After all, I think people can change and you think they can’t. If you change, then I am right.” She coughs. Merle realizes that it’s laughter.

One of the cubs barrels into her, rolling. She swats it away. Kurt is right behind the cub, but she catches him. She sets him aside, standing up.

“Up to you,” says the bear. She turns towards the woods to the north. Kurt gives a wave and he and the cubs scramble after her.

Merle struggles out of the dream like a diver coming up from the deepest possible dive. “Kurt,” he says, “you said you’d come back and tell me the truth.” He shudders and gets up.

I took the photographs in June 2017.

2 thoughts on “Bear with me

  1. 1gus1 says:

    Merle must learn to tell the truth and be as brave as Kurt.

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