I wake after the sun has set. Crawl from my bed. Gentle darkness all around. I pull on soft, clean clothes, my muddy forest clothes crumpled on the bedroom floor in a heap.
I begin to walk away. Hesitate. Turn back and pick up Coyote from my pillow. Hold his skull against my heart as I walk through the hallway, past the fireplace, through the living room, into the orchid room: nothing but glass around and above me. The orchid room: where long ago someone lovingly grew mysterious flowers, watered and cared for them and built this room just for their health.
I use the orchid room as a drafting studio now. During the day, sun pours in and I draw pictures in the white hot light. On rainy days this room has the most light in the house. At night I can look out and see faroff twinkling lights through the Douglas Firs and the Atlas Cedar in my front yard.
This is home.
But something is not right. I feel the missingness of my memory, and it makes me feel unbalanced. Like I've removed some crucial part of my brain that creates rightness and normalness. My SELF keeps reaching for the lost memory, and it makes my senses feel sharper but makes my mind feel overtaxed, folding in on itself. My heartbeats feel too strong. Although I'm no longer in the woods, I smell the forest floor and the dirt of the memory grave. I smell the leftover flesh on Coyote's skull and the smells of some other beast, and of violence. I smell Coyote's last living breath as it lingers around his bones. I hear minuscule sounds of detritivores nibbling at Coyote's remnants. I feel that I can predict the weather.
I also feel a howl rising in my throat. It is bitter as bile.
Coyote, against my heart. My heartbeats amplified by the cavern of his skull. Muddled by his ceaseless fuzzy whispers.