The brisk winter air pelted my face as I walked to the next town. Specks on ice pierced my face lik elittle knifes as I trudged through the racing wind. A snow storm was coming but I had a job to do.
It's been a little longer than a year.
Canada is easy, the towns I pass through are mostly empty, some are bigger but most of them don't have a population bigger than forty people. Several of them are extremely poor and don't have much to trade me for a downed elk.
About two months after the incident I was dragging a moose into a small town along the border. The woman I have it to only had a meek little wolf pup that her daughter insisted I take. They treated me to dinner that night because they felt as if the dog wasn't enough.
Nobody knew who I was and what I could do.
I visited that little border town whenever possible. More often then not, they were starving or freezing to death. I hunted food for them and expected do reward.
Aspen was enough.
When I first got her, I was extremely sad because she reminded me of Eclipse. It didn't take me long to adjust to my new hunting buddy. The little meek pup quickly grew into a huge she-wolf. She was extremely muscular and strong. I would occasionally play with her and she'd easily start dragging me.
Aspen helped me with a lot. She helped me shift focus, stop overthinking, and she had my back the same way I had hers.
She was like a sister. A bestfriend. Family. Someone to talk to.
She was something I desperately needed.
"Carla?" Henry said over my earpiece.
I winced at him saying my name. I hadn't spoken to him in three or four months and wasnt used to my real name.
All the memories rushed back in a flood. Bodies flying. I shut my eyes. The cracks of spines breaking.
"Who are you hunting for now?" Henry asked curiously. I think he just missed me.
"You still staying with Grannie Angeline?"
"Yeah, Aspen and I have been taking turns sleeping on the floor. I have one more elk to get before I can leave."
"Where are you going after that?"
"You should stop by and say hi"
"Henry, you know I can't go back down there."
"It was just an idea," Henry answered.
"Are you talking to mom?" I heard Charlotte's voice squeal in the background.
"Mom!" Charlotte happily exclaimed into the radio.
"I miss you, you should come visit."
"I can't Charlotte," I answered, "I've gotta go honey, I need to hunt."
"Okay mom, stay safe."
I clicked the radio off and took my bow off my back. The wind had died down a lot.
I turned to Aspen. Her human form was my height. He had short, dark brown hair and golden eyes. She was wearing a thick green jacket that matched mine and black pants.
"Can we go home, I don't smell any deer," Aspen pleaded. I could tell she was cold.
I nodded lightly, "Yeah, the sun is going down so we should probably head back."
"Sweetie pie?" Grannie Angeline called from the kitchen as Aspen and I walked through the door. Aspen was in her wolf form to avoid scaring them.
"Any luck on your hunt?" She asked as she walked from the kitchen into the livingroom where I was standing. Her apron was covered in flour.
I shook my head defeatedly.
"Ahh it's okay darling, that means you get to stay for another day," Grannie happily said.
She walked over to Aspen and started petting her, Aspen seemed to enjoy it.
I smiled at the two of them and then proceeded to walk into the kitchen. Apparently Grannie was trying to cook a chicken, she was failing miserably.
I grabbed the chicken off the counter and examined the extremely burnt poultry.
"I swear sometimes honey, I can't cook for the life of me." Grannie Angeline howled from behind me with a laugh.
I smiled at her.
"Well it's not that bad, you can still eat it," I explained.
"I'll just give it to Aspen and go get another from the market."
"Grannie, its winter, chicken will cost you an arm and a leg."
She patted the flour off of her hands, "Well we need dinner."
"Grannie, I'll go get dinner okay? I'll give the chicken to Aspen on my way out."
"No no honey-"
"Its alright Grannie, just stay here."
"You've done enough Blaire."
"Seriously, it's okay Grannie."
I grabbed the chicken and walked out the door, Aspen followed.
"You're not gonna make me eat that are you?" Aspen complained from behind me.
"If you complain about that sweet old women's cooking one more time then I'll make you eat it."
"Sorry Blaire, it's just, I want to go for one of our runs. I want to see the beach again, I want to meet the people who you keep talking to through the ear thing. I want to know why you can't go back."
I dramatically turned towards her, "You wanna know why I can't go back?"
"Yeah," she demanded, "Why won't you go visit the people who miss you?"
"Because I killed their friends," I snapped. Aspen's whole body language changed.
"I killed all their friends and they dont blame me for it," I frustratedly added, "Its my fault they all died, that's why I can't go back, that's why I cant see them, that's why we don't see the ocean anymore!"
"Did you know them?" Aspen asked.
"Yeah, yeah I knew them." I answered with a sigh, "They weren't just their friends."
"You killed your own friends?" Aspen asked confusedly.
"Aspen," I ended, "I don't want to talk about it."
"I'm sorry I brought it up," Aspen sighed.
"It's fine Aspen."
I bought a chicken from the market and carried it to the house. It had taken me and Aspen an hour to get back home from the snow.
We walked into the house and I was instantly hit with an all too familiar iron smell.
I sprinted to the kitchen to see Grannie laying in an awkward position on the floor with a note laying on the back of her head.
Meet me at the Searentown trading post, we need to talk.
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