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A Different Disaster

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You didn't expect it so soon.

Being what you are, it would have made so much more sense if you had anticipated this, known of it. Warned him somehow. You've done it before, whether it was for a single person or an entire village. Seventy summers ago, it had been all you had known. The warnings, the constant moving about. The whispers in the wind that told you what no other could sense.

Why didn't you know? Did you ignore the warnings, or simply block them out in your vain attempt to escape the inevitable? If you did, you shouldn't have. Perhaps you could have let him know, and then maybe he could have--

No. You shake your head, ruffling your mane as you pace outside of the house. When you began to mourn, the others put you out in the warm summer air, but to you it feels almost icy. They don't understand. It is your job to tell them what they cannot hear, but you failed. You failed him.

At the back of your mind, you know you're wrong. Even your kind can't prevent death-- no one can. Still, the feelings of guilt and grief drag you down until your head rests on your dark claws, your entire white body pressed into the grass as if at any moment you can sink through and be one with the earth.

One with him.

All those summers ago, he found you; a scared and injured pup lying on the side of the forest path. You had been desperately running from what you sensed, what you hadn't been able to alert the nearby town to before it was too late. In the earthquake, a branch from a tree had fallen on you as you raced along, and had he not come along, you would likely have died from your injuries.

He had been gentle, shoving the branch off of you and examining your hind leg, despite your frightened growls. When he picked you up, he was careful not to jostle you, carrying you back to the town and to the medical center there. The Chancey had bound your broken leg and the nurse had asked him if you were his. He had shaken his head and explained that he had found you, and would release you once you recovered.

But you didn't let him.

It was something about his gentleness, something that drew you in and made you want to stay with him on his travels. Still, sometimes the pull had been greater than you could ignore, and you would leave on an adventure of your own, to find whatever settlement the wind told you was in danger. From what you observed, you've saved many lives.

You couldn't save him.

Another shake of the head, and you dig your black claws into the grass and dirt, digging great furrows in your sorrow. You should have known. Even if you couldn't warn him, you should have known that when you curled up beside him on the bed the previous night, you would be the only one to wake. You should have known.

So why didn't you?! Why couldn't you know? What sick joke did the world decide to play when it chose to make you lose the only friend you had ever had in your long life, a life that you knew wouldn't end for many years yet? How could you lose the one human who--

You shoot to your feet as the front door opens. The hands that reach out to you aren't his-- they're pale and smell strongly of flowers. The scent burns your nose in the most unpleasant way, entirely unlike his natural scent. The female coos at you and you resist the urge to growl, pacing towards the house rather than her.

"Oh, sweetie," she croons, and you flick your blade-like tail. "He's not going to come out."

You know that. You knew that from the moment you awoke to a cold, lifeless companion that you would never see him again. You will never run beside him as he jogs in the forest. You will never stay up late to watch the full moon rise above the trees, bathing everything in silver light.

When she prevents you from scratching at the door, refusing to open it for you, you decide. You won't be staying here any longer. For seventy summers it has been your home, but without him... you no longer feel compelled to stay.

Now you see why the others of your kind never attach themselves to a human. Their lives are shorter than yours, and while as a pup you thought you would spend your every waking moment with him, you realize now you will spend much of the rest of your life alone. You stare at the house for a long time, taking in every feature you memorized long ago. The fading blue paint on everything but the door, which is still natural, if weathered. The chimes hanging over the porch, silent now, for even the wind seems to be mourning. The closed windows, with their deep green curtains pulled shut to hide the inside of the house from prying eyes.

As you turn around to leave, the woman coos again. "Absol, sweetie, where are you going?"

If you had their speech, you would tell her you were leaving. You would tell her that this is no longer your home, not without him. You would tell her that word he said to you every time you left, even though you always came back.

You would tell her goodbye.