Before words

It was at this time, with the dark nearly upon them, that the wolves became active. He could here them circling at a distance.

Around the fires the young ones were causing mischief. They’d be bustled inside soon before the light faded and the moon rose.

A few old men lingered near the main cooking fire. Old women gathered bones that had been scattered during the evening, tossing them into the flames.

The girl came again to the mouth of his cave as she had every night since the last moon. They would soon share this place. There would be no more moments remembering her face in the middle of a hunt. Forgetting where he was. The elders allowed her to visit now. Even the grey one had stopped protesting.

He waved her to join him by his own small fire, putting new branches onto the flames. They flicked higher. Brighter. She sat beside me—showed him a new scar on her leg. She took his hand and had him feel the warm redness. He found water for it.

The sun slipped out of sight. He gathered the coals with a stick then built the fire high. Then he lay a skin on the ground for her. And another to cover them both.

The first howl echoed in the darkness.