The surface of the river was still, almost glass like. Looking deep you could see the current running swiftly down stream. Hungry birds circled overhead, looking for a meal. A small fish leapt above the safety of the river narrowly missing becoming lunch. For a moment the world was quiet.
And then chaos. . . .
“John! Help! I can’t . . .” For only a few seconds a woman’s head broke the surface before she was dragged back down into the darkness. The unforgiving depths do not like to give back.
“Oh, my God! I’m coming! Please God don’t let her drown! Anna!”
Mere seconds behind the struggling woman was a man in a canoe. The terror on his face spoke volumes. More time went by as he searched for any sign of this woman that had enchanted his heart, his soul. He had to find her!
“Anna! Anna!” He shouted loudly.
“ Please God, save her.” He whispered to the universe. “Please!”
Two gentle souls had found each other in an out-of-way park and without meaning to, had fallen in love. John could not believe they would be separated so soon after finding each other. He felt the tears at the back of his eyes welling. His shoulders ached from the desperate paddling, his eyes searching for his heart.
“Please, plea . . . Anna!”
He spied her flowing red hair glistening in the morning light. The only movement was with the water’s drift trying to tug it free from a branch.
Another foot and he could see a shoulder. It was deathly pale.
“Please . . .”
When the canoe was within reach John jumped out next to the body of his beloved. Immediately he felt the water dragging at his clothes, determined to pull him down. The canoe, caught by another branch, floated nearby. John’s hands trembled, unsure, desperate to know.
“Anna…” He barely breathed . . .
As he turned her body over an eyelid flickered. She was alive!
With that almost imperceptible movement John reacted. His training took over his actions. He checked her pulse: strong. Breathing: shallow but steady. Pupils: reactive. Small contusion on forehead. She was safe to move. She needed to be warm and monitored. He needed to check for other possible injuries.
The next few minutes became a blur. John was able to disentangle Anna and get her to shore. It may only have been a few feet but it felt like miles. He made sure she was safe and returned for the canoe. Those supplies could make the difference between living and dying.
When John and Anna made the decision to run away they left behind their lives as well as their cell phones. They were on their own now.
It took a little time but John was able to make a fire, make Anna comfortable and put water on to boil. He cleaned her wounds. They were minor and should pose no future problems. Her breathing was stronger but still she slept. John agonized over whether to leave her to find help or to stay. A little tea should help. While he busied himself with the mundane tasks of finding the tea and cups he was able to calm down. They would survive this. She would survive this.
His head was down, diligently measuring tea leaves into a strainer when he heard a sound. He quickly looked to Anna, still she slumbered. He raised his eyes to the forest a few meters away. His heart stopped. There, just beside a very full tree was the largest wolf he had ever seen. John had seen hundreds in his years in the Parks Services but never one this close and this . . .alive. He was afraid to breath! And then it moved.
Wolves have a reputation as true killers, vicious animals that maul the unwary for fun. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wolves are intelligent pack animals who care deeply for their young and avoid people as much as possible. And yet here was a magnificent specimen silently staring at . . .Anna? Normally an adversary keeps his eyes on an opponent but that didn’t seem to be the case here. Why? Before John had finished his thought the wolf took a step forward and then another. Then it did the strangest thing: it sat. With its head cocked to one side and its tongue hanging out it look just like a family pet.
John sat back on his heals. The movement didn’t disturb the wolf at all. It’s gaze never left Anna. It didn’t seem to be aggressive, more . . . supportive? Was John dreaming? After what seemed to be hours the wolf slowly returned to the forest. At that moment the water started boiling furiously. John was reminded of his duties and returned to them.
The hours did pass. John tried to stay awake to tend to the fire and to worry about the wolf but the inevitable did happen. The stress, fear and fatigue took hold and John slept.
He was dreaming. He felt cool water on his face, he was drowning! With a yell he force his way up, clawing for the surface!
With blinking eyes the man in question came awake. He was confused. He quickly looked to where Anna lay and she was gone!
“I’m right here John, I’m fine. Look someone’s dog has come for a visit.”
Someone’s dog? John came awake in a hurry with that comment. He looked towards the sound of his beloved’s voice and saw her with the huge wolf gently accepting her ministrations. She was petting him and tugging at his ears and he seemed to like it!
“Anna, Anna . . that’s a wolf! A wild animal! You have to get away from him!”
Anna didn’t move except to give her newfound friend a hug.
“I had such awful dreams and then I felt this warmth embrace me. I felt such love. Then I felt a wet tongue on my face and it was Samson. He sat by me while you slept. I think he was keeping an eye on us both.”
“You named a wild animal Samson?”
John started to laugh. It was so abrupt that both Anna and Samson were startled. Then they both joined in. Or, at least one did, the other gave the impression he was enjoying the process.
When the laughter died down the release was apparent. Then both John and Anna started to speak at the same time …
“I’m sorry!” “I’m sorry!”
“It was an accident. We’re both ok and we seemed to have gained a companion.”
Anna smiled at their new friend who promptly rolled on his back and presented his stomach for a rub.
John grinned at the two of them. A wild animal and a beautiful writer. What could be more incongruous and more appropriate? Perhaps Anna would write about a tame wolf named Samson in their new life. He would find an out-of-the-way park in which to work and Anna would write stories for children. All would be well. They had each other.