Breathe

The taste of smoke ran rancid in the tips of the man’s tongue. His wife continued to speak to him about the rate at which he smoking. He’d quit eventually. He spat on the ground as he passed by a tree. John dug a foot into the ground and destroyed any embers that could have been left. Despite the fact that John was willing to destroy his body, he wasn’t prepared to be responsible for that of a forest’s. There was something in the air that spoke to him.

The wind whistled by what hair he had left on the top of his skull. John’s dad and his father before him had been gifted with the curse of residing hair. His reply to his inevitable fate was completely shaving any source of hair that cropped up. It had been a good look for him.

Gusts continued to build up as John made his way across the pathway. He had left the residence of his small camp to go for a small walk while he smoked. It had been a ritual at home. John walked a good ten minutes away from where he set up. It was a pleasant enough trip. Near the river front, right along the bank where his father had taken him when he a sprout. They went camping and caught fish for days.

Even though his father had become something more, he continued to come here every year. His eyes glared up through the sun’s blasting rays. A few more hours and the time will nearly be sunset. The golden fire in sky will light up, and this entire area will be fixed like a candle’s hot burn.

As his steps lightened in pace upon arrival of the camp his eyes grew wide with his heart nearly being tossed out of his lips. Standing in the middle of his camp, rummaging through his previously stacked packages of foot was a massively sized, muscle covered black bear. The bear growled with the tip of its nose stuck to the ground. The creature’s powerful claws dug into the ground as if it was water, creating an immediate imprint on the forest floor. Leaves crumpled like cereal turning to dust. The monster growled once more as it tipped up its nose against the packages. John’s breath burned up in his throat, his body begging him to give in and take that breath.

Seconds drew on like water falling down the edge of a faucet. John’s will broken, the let out of breath danced out of his nostrils and his thankful frame welcomed the exchange of fresh oxygen inside of him. The creature of nature took notice of him finally. The meal broken, its golden eyes pegged onto the sides of his body and the growls became focused on him. The jowls rippled with edges of saliva trickling down along its lips.

Muscles began to tickle over the back of its legs. The pads of the creature’s paws raced over to where John stood. He had placed his back against his tree and watched the bear’s movement. While it served as a machine of power, there had been a sense of grace each time it took a step down. The paws rippled along the muddy trail. The claws dug into the rocks as if it were sand. As the beast had its way, it sniffed along John’s black jacket.

The taste of whatever the bear had previously killed was caked along the side of its teeth. The aroma was powerful; the waves of wet fur ran over John’s nostrils. The way the bear moved had been that of a show, a mesmerizing spectacular of power that he could barely tear his eyes away from.  The creature batted a paw against the side of John’s calve and he slid down the tree with no effort. The strength backed by the bear’s one claw terrified John, his breath growing in heat each time. The warmth of the beast’s nostrils riddled down the side of his skin, underneath his clothing.

What seemed like hours, the bear sniffed one along the side of his shoulder and pulled away from where John was. The creature pulled away from John’s spot and continued away, crossing the path that John had travelled and into the forest. John’s ears seemed to work again, no longer hypnotized by what had just occurred. The birds had been chirping, the soft echo of bugs layered the environment with a sense of peace. His breath came in raggedly at first before it all became natural again. The moment was over, and his heart had been returned to his chest.

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