A short story based on real history:
A long time ago lived a big and powerful wolf. He was the leader of a great pack that lived in the mountains. For many years, the pack hunted in those mountains, eat together, slept together and defended each other, guided by their strong leader. In all this time, a very beautiful she-wolf stood by his side, always keeping him company, always lifting his spirit and always licking his battle wounds. But one day, things changed.
A younger wolf decided that he was more fit to lead the pack, so he challenged the alpha. The young wolf managed to beat the leader in fair combat, leaving him severely injured. The pack realized that the young wolf was fit to lead them from that day. They all looked at the defeated leader as he was bleeding to death on the ground. And then, one by one, they turned their heads and walked away, following the younger wolf. The injured wolf looked at them, eyes half opened and his heart broken. The last wolf that continued to stare at him was the she-wolf. She gave him a long stare, then she too turned her head and walked away, leaving him to the cold embrace of death.
Devastated and knowing that there were no more reasons for him to live, the wolf went to sleep, thinking that he will never wake up. But he did, the next morning. He gathered his strengths, or at least whatever he had left, and stood up. He had nowhere to go, nothing to do. He could not even hunt. So he decided to walk. For hours he wondered the mountain. His wounds still hurt, he was hungry and thirsty, but more than anything, he felt lost.
Eventually, when the dark was setting in, he saw a light through the trees. Getting closer, he saw that the light came from a bonfire and next to it, there was a human. A sole human, young and vulnerable. The wolf stood still behind the trees, watching the man as he was sitting in front of the fire. Even though he was weak, he knew that the human was an easy prey. He could easily take him down and fist himself in that night. Anyway, it was not like he had anything to lose.
The wolf began to move forward towards his pray. He was just a few feet away. One quick dash to the neck and dinner was ready. And besides, he would get a bonus. His nose sensed a very good smell. Looking closer, he saw that the human was cooking some meat on the bonfire. Lucky him.
But in that moment, the wolf changed his mind. He realized that he and that human had something in common: they were all alone. And the one thing he desired more in that moment than the food was the company.
The wolf started to circle the bonfire until he got opposite of the human. He didn’t even notice him. He was keeping his head between his knees and it looked like he was sobbing. The wolf got closer to the human, just a hand-reach away. Then, the man noticed him. He raised his head and stared at the wolf in the eyes. Even though it was like staring at death’s face, he had no reaction. He just stood there and watched the wolf, waiting.
The wolf was somehow impressed with the man’s reaction. He laid down in front of him and continued to watch the man. He was so close to the fire that his nose was filled with the delicious smell of burning meat. He turned his head towards the fire, asking himself if the man’s company was truly more important than the meat.
Then the man reached for the meat on the fire and took it off. He ripped half of it and threw it at the wolf’s feet. He was shocked that the human decided to share his food with him, just like that. He was starving so he ate the piece of meat as fast as it could and damn, it tasted better than anything he ever tried in his life. The man sat in front of the wolf and finished eating his food. After that, with the bellies full, they went to sleep.
The next day when they woke up, the man packed his bags and decided to leave. He gave the wolf one last glance, he smiled and then he walked away. The wolf, realizing that both of them had better chances of surviving together, stood up and followed the human, which turned out to be actually happy to see the wolf coming along.
They walked through the forest for many hours, until they reached a human settlement. They both stopped and glared at the settlement for a few minutes, not knowing what to do. The human was afraid to bring the wolf to his home, thinking that not only his people would not allow it, but he might actually attack their animals. The wolf was also hesitating, knowing that entering a human pack was pure suicide. The man eventually took a few steps forward, but the wolf stood still. He turned to the wolf and calmly talked with him. Delighted by the soft voice of the human, the wolf came along.
Reaching the settlement’s entry, they were greeted by a few other humans with sticks in their hands. They acted very aggressively towards the human and the wolf. Sensing the danger, the wolf decided to act, so he ran in front of his friend, took a defensive stance and started to growl at the aggressors. They all backed away, fearing the wolf, but also shocked that the wild animal was protecting his friend.
Eventually, they laid down their sticks and left, leaving the man and the wolf alone. He turned to his buddy and saw that the human had a huge smile on his face. He bowed down on his knee and looked the wolf in the eye. And then he did something totally unexpected: he hugged the wolf.
The wolf was shocked, not knowing how to react. At first, he got scared, but that gesture, that hug, gave him to most pleasant feeling in the world. The human lets go of the wolf, then looked at him and with his hand scratched his head. In that moment, he said something to the wolf, a long line, but out of which the wolf memorized one word, a word that was so filled with positive energy, with kindness and love, that he never ever forgot it. And since that day, every time he heard the word, he knew that he was home. The word was Elias. His name.
The wolf quickly adapted to his new home. He learned how the human packed worked and in time he made other friends among them. He learned that he should not eat the animals they were heading, but protect them from other predators. And in exchange for his work, he would get food, lots of good, fried food. Sometimes even five times a day! But above all, for his work he got something far better. He was again a member of a pack. He had friends, he felt love and he had his human. They had each other, always together. Life was good again.
One day he actually understood something very important about his human. One day, they went for a walk, the human guiding him to a pile of earth that was sitting on the ground. But there was something odd about that place. The smell, although soft and fin, he recognized it. The smell of a dead body, hidden underneath the ground. When the man bowed to his knee next to the pile of earth, with a very sad look on his face, the wolf understood that underneath the earth lied the body of someone that meant a lot to his human. He also found out that his name was given after the other human that was lying underground. Elias. He could not but wonder if in the day they met, when his human was all alone in the forest, was that the day the human died? Just like him, he lost all hope and ran into the forest? If so, they were lucky they found each other. Ever since that day, their bond became even stronger.
One night, the wolf woke up because the animals he was guarding became agitated. He listened to the wind and started sniffing the air. A familiar smell filled his nose. His heart started pumping hard when he realized what that smell was. His old pack came running from the forest, all of them, aiming at the heard. He knew he could not face them alone so he called for backup. He started hauling, waking all the human up, which came to his aid with sticks and stones, driving the pack away.
Watching his old family run away, he realized that without knowing, without thinking, he chose the human above his kin. He was shocked about his gesture and started to question his very own existence. It felt like he was no longer a wolf, no longer a predator. But he was also not a human. He was something in between. But what was he?
For the next days, he was the center of attention in the settlement. Every human was giving him food and patting him on the head for his good service. But the wolf felt no joy, no pride. He had a question that needed an answer. What has he become?
Shortly after that night, in the middle of the day, the wind carried another smell in his nose. A familiar smell, coming from the forest. He stood up and went to investigate. On reaching the forest, he was shocked to see what the smell lead him to. It was the she-wolf, the one he thought he could never live without, standing in front of him, weakened, with no flesh on her skin, barely standing on her feet. He hasn’t seen her in years and thought he would never see her again. He sniffed her and she sniffed him back. He felt her pain, her hunger. He realized, that the pack leader, even if he was stronger than him, he was not a good hunter. That is why they tried to attack the settlement. It was painful for him to see her like that and he knew he had to do something. He could bring her food, help her feed herself. But that would not help in the long run. So he decided to do something riskier. He took her back to his settlement.
Although he did not know how the other human would react, or his human, he had to try. He was confused, he cared both for the human and for her and could not choose between them. But one thing he knew for sure, he had to try to protect them both.
When the human saw him with her, they were shocked and did not know how to react. They kept a distance. Then his human came and looked at them with big eyes. It did not take more than a few seconds for him to understand the situation, so he ran back to his hut and came back with a big piece of meat. When he came close, the she-wolf started to growl, fearing the human, but the wolf calmed her down. The human laid down the meat and the wolf encouraged her to eat it. Trusting the wolf, she went for the food and ate it all in a few seconds. She was so surprised by what has happened, that she started waving her tail.
Days passed and the she-wolf adapted to the settlement. She became friendly with the humans and learned to do all the wolfs chores, to protect the heard and the settlement. And then something amazing happened: other wolves from the pack came to the settlement, asking for food and shelter and the humans took them in. In just a few days, the two packs merged into one, humans and wolves. But in all this time, the wolf had the same question without answer: what has he become?
Time went by and the two packs became very close. The human was always feeding the wolves and in return, they kept the settlement safe from other predators. But most importantly, they kept each other company. They played with each other, smiled together, learned how to love each other.
The wolf and the she-wolf had kids over the years, lots of them. As one pack became bigger, so did the other. Their kids found a home in other people’s arms, sometimes in the same settlement, other times in other settlements, next to other humans that gave them love, affection and of course, food. They even visited each other from time to time.
As death forgets no one, one day the wolf woke up and realized that he could no longer stand up. He realized his time has come to leave the world once and for all. The she-wolf, sensing his pain, came to him and after realizing what was going on, lying next to him, to keep him company one last time. His human came and quickly understood what was happening. He also played down next to the wolf, eyes in tears, petting him on the head. Then something incredible happened: all the settlement came, both humans and wolves. The word quickly spread and other settlements came to his deathbed. In a few hours, he found himself surrounded by all the humans that he ever met, all the wolves and all his children and grandchildren. They all came to say one final “goodbye”.
He stayed there, watching them, awaiting his moment. And then he realized something, something so important that even gave him the strength to lift his head off the ground. He found out the answer to his question. As he stood there and watched all those gathered around him, his heart filled with joy. He found out the answer to the biggest question he ever had and that answer, somehow, went from generation to generation, from wolf to wolf and it is very well known even in this day. Even the humans, somehow, learned his wisdom and passed it from generation and generation.
He laid down his head on the grass. Every breath became heavier. Every heartbeat became more distant than the next one. But he was happy. He waved his tail one last time. He found the answer to his question. What has he become? He became more than a wolf. He became more than a human. He became more than he ever dreamed of. And all his offsprings inherited his legacy.
He became man’s best friend.
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