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THE LONE WOLF

    Once a lone wolf found itself longing for the company of strangers.
    Not that it sought what increasingly passed for “connection.” Internet “friends” who outnumbered the population of the planet or random “hook-ups” in the moonlight that neither party wanted to remember in the morning struck the wolf as the ultimate expression of loneliness. The same for hushed calls to a sibling you hadn’t seen in years to rescue you from a bar before some foxy young thing’s date came to, got up from the floor, and went for your throat.
    No, what the lone wolf longed for was at most a few words in the shade of an afternoon now and then with a kindred spirit who was content to share the quiet of a mutual respect for one another’s secrets. Something not too far removed from the self-imposed silences that for years had served as an uneasy truce with solitude.
    How do you enter the lives of others without losing some of your own, the wolf always wondered? Or let them enter yours without losing even more?  Six degrees of separation hardly seemed enough to guarantee one’s identity remained intact. Anything less was sure to bring on a paralyzing claustrophobia.
    But why? Why did the lone wolf feel unable to relax around others or run in their packs without all the while secretly keeping one eye on the shadow it cast? Almost as if it feared a moment’s lapse in self-awareness might bring on a stumble into shadowless existence altogether, lost in the onrushing gray of the crowd.
    Then suddenly this desire again for another shadow or two crossing its own. In their dark union to find just enough freedom from itself and the tyranny of the restive spirit to escape for a time the dangers of its own wilderness: those wide-open spaces where too little could become too much in an instant and leave you panting with fear at what might lie over the next rise yet still racing towards it.
    Could the presence of another ever protect one from that? From the distant crouch of your own soul there at the edge of endurance?
    As still in its wait as the night, and as hungry.