Colorblinds

Colorblinds

A Chapter by Nusquam Esse

On the barren tundra of the north, there lived a wolf.  Amarok was his name, and despite the loneliness that comes with hunting alone, he preferred the solitary hunt.  Few wolves survive on their own, hunting through these desolate wastes; but Amarok was cunning and resourceful, but most of all, he was resilient.  He did have vague memories of other wolves, but their scents had long since left him.  No longer did the scent of a pack linger upon his hide, nor his mind.  Part of him longed for the companionship, but again, he was alone, and he was proud; proud that he survived alone in this brumal land.

 

His hide was of the darkest of blacks, fiercely defiant to the white which surrounded him.  But perhaps the most surprising thing about Amarok was his milky blue eyes.  He was blind, yes... he was blind, yet still he hunted alone.  Most would say that a blind wolf that couldn’t even blend into the snow would never be able to survive.  The weak are always the first to die, yet still Amarok survived.

 

Amarok remembered what it was like to see, to look up and see the dancing aurora above.  He couldn’t remember what the colors had looked like, only that entranced sensation; a beauty he had now forgotten.  How he used to love watching the colors flow and flash across the sky.  What were those lights?  In his youth he had resolutely decided that he would reach that which was always just out of reach.  It was this desire to find the lights which had led him here.  He had left the pack, trying to find the light; but in the end, it had been impossible.  One day he looked up, and saw nothing; no lights, just... nothing.  Chasing the aurora had left him alone on the tundra; blind, unable to even see the light, much less find it. 

 

Melancholy had settled over his heart, but he tried to push it aside; the light did not matter, it was just a foolish dream of a foolish pup; and Amarok was clever.  So Amarok spent many years, wandering the tundra, seeking out each new hunt by scent alone; trying to forget the colors and lights he had long since forgotten.

 

During an unnaturally warm night, one of the few in which the cold did not pierce him deep beneath his hide, he sensed something odd--out of place.  Raising his nose into the air, Amarok breathed deeply, trying to understand what it was.  It was difficult to smell the scents of the air in such a frigid land, but on a warm night such as this, he could smell whatever it was clearly.  It seemed similar to himself, yet... it was not.  He stalked towards the source of the scent cautiously. 

 

As he drew near he heard a voice longingly mutter, “Is it not beautiful?”  Amarok had not heard another speak for many years, not since he was a pup.  Yet this did not quite smell like another wolf.  He didn’t know how to respond, both because he was not accustomed to conversation, and because he couldn’t even remember what beautiful was. 

 

The source of the voice drew close, and brushing up against Amarok, she introduced herself, “I am called Sarama, I lived farther to the south, but these lights...”  her voice trailed off as she no doubt stared up into the night sky like Amarok once had.  A brief silence, then Sarama asked quietly, almost reverently, “You look different than any dog I have seen?”

 

Amarok scoffed at the idea; him, a dog?  He didn’t even know what that was.  This Sarama would have known he wasn’t one by simply smelling him, but she was apparently too caught up in how he looked.  He felt scorn and resentment for the eyesight he lacked, which she took for granted.  Which was weaker?  Those who looked, or those who had learned to not?  So Amarok stood in silence, determined not to respond to this Sarama; he had no interest in discussing the beauty of something which had cost him everything, pack and sight, much less with a fool.

 

After the long silence, Amarok sensed Sarama quivering, much like he did on the coldest nights.  She pressed herself against him, shivering, “It is so cold here, how can anything live here?”

 

Cold?  This was not cold; this was one of the rare warm nights.  She would never last a cold night, where the cold pierced even Amarok to his core.  Despite his disdain for this dog, he felt something he’d not felt for so long that he was not quite sure what it was--pity?  Amarok growled harshly, “You should return to your land in the south.  You cannot survive here.”

 

Yet despite his gruff warning, Sarama seemed unconcerned.  She pushed her cold body in closer to his, curling up beside him.  She groggily murmured, “You’re so warm”, and as her shivering subsided, Amarok realized that she had fallen asleep.  It was foolish, who would curl up beside a stranger and sleep so blissfully unaware?  Amarok looked towards the sky that he could no longer see before resting his head on Sarama’s hide and falling asleep.  Maybe it was the abnormally warm night, or perhaps it was due to their shared warmth, but Amarok could not recall a night where he had slept so sound.

 

The next morning, Sarama was still curled up beside him; he nudged her with his nose, rousing her.   The warm air from her breath brushed his face.   Realizing that she was awake, Amarok repeated his previous warning of the night prior, “You should return to your land.”  Yet again, she seemed oblivious to his warning.  “Only the strong can survive here alone!” barked Amarok.

 

Sarama pushed her head up against his neck and with a light-hearted yip responded, “But I’m not alone.”

 

The response startled Amarok, she wasn’t intending on following him was she?  Gone was his sympathy of the night prior; he had no intentions of letting this dog follow him.  One did not survive by hunting with the weak.  He would ignore her, and move ahead without her; she wouldn’t be able to keep up.  Perhaps realizing this, she might take his warning to heart.  In the north, they were all alone.  Stiffly raising himself from the ground and stretching, he inhaled the thin air, trying to absorb his surroundings.  Sarama’s scent was overpowering, but he tried to ignore it, seeking out his next meal.  Scampering playfully, Sarama began following him.  Amarok silently scorned her wanton waste of energy.  

 

For weeks this continued, with Sarama following Amarok everywhere he went, and sleeping beside him each chilly night.

 

In time, Sarama’s presence became natural to Amarok.  At first she was a continual hindrance; interrupting his hunt, or distracting him from scents.  But soon he paid it no mind; while he would never admit it, Amarok had grown attached to the company.  As much as there was pride in being alone in the north, he had always felt lonely.  The minor inconveniences of being accompanied on his journey to nowhere seemed a small price to pay for banishing the pangs of loneliness.  The nights were warmer with another, and the hours not so long; and although Amarok had lived for many seasons alone, he could no longer imagine solitude on the tundra--unable to even conceive such a thing--until one particularly cold night.

 

The chilled air had settled upon the ground, like fog which settles in a valley, sucking away any trace of warmth which the land may have held--even to its core.  Amarok remembered curling up beside Sarama, trying to keep what warmth might last between them.  Sarama had become accustomed to the cold: her pelt thicker, her once delicate form now more rugged--although not as durable as Amarok’s.  Yet in the middle of this piercing night, Amarok stirred from his sleep, strangely cold.  He had not awoken from the cold for many seasons now, and he felt unsettled with the change.  With a sickening twist of his gut, Amarok realized that the warmth of his companion was not beside him.  Raising his nose to the air, Amarok sniffed the air.  The frigid air burned his nose, but despite the cold, he still picked up Sarama’s scent.  Stiffly raising his shivering body, Amarok made his way towards the scent; worry and uncertainty eating at his groggy mind.

 

Amarok walked a short way, over an ice-encrusted ridge, before finding Sarama.  She seemed unaware of his presence, and even as he rubbed his head up against her side, an intimate greeting, he never once felt her muscles, which ran from her head to back, twist towards him.   She never bothered to look down at him, never bothered to return the gesture.  If she had not quietly greeted him, he would have thought that she had not even noticed him.  Amarok felt uneasy; usually Sarama was the one who pushed for intimacy, he couldn’t understand why he was being ignored.  Finally, as Amarok was torn between surrendering to lonely slumber and forcing Sarama to acknowledge him, he heard the words he dreaded most, “Is it not beautiful?  They had left for a while, and I did not know if they would ever return.”

 

As Sarama spoke these words, Amarok realized that she was gazing at those sparkling lights; a sense of dread came over him.  With company he had all but forgotten the lights which had led him astray in his youth.  Yet Sarama’s awe-filled words reminded Amarok of his prior scorn and love for those lights.  But now, he felt something new, a feeling which dwarfed all those which he had felt before--fear.  He had lost so much to those lights; beyond his pack and sight, what more could be lost to these lights?  But now, with Sarama’s words, words which she had spoken when they first met, he realized that he feared the aurora.

 

Amarok initially tried to ignore his fear, tried to suppress his paranoia, but as the winter grew longer, Sarama left him more and more frequently, until he began to sleep alone.   Sarama had lost weight, Amarok could tell, and there was something unhealthy about her.  In time, Amarok became convinced that the lights were killing Sarama even if he didn’t understand how.  And with each passing night, he felt her travel further and further from him.  In his youth he had left his pack to chase the lights which hovered to the north, how long would it be until Sarama left him as well?  The lights were going to take the last thing that mattered to him.  It was only a matter of time until Sarama wandered away from him

 

Throughout the cold nights alone, Amarok thought of how… how he could stop that which had already taken so much.   Amarok himself began to waste away, before he realized what had to be done.  If she left him, chasing the aurora, she would suffer the same fate as him.  The thought of Sarama wandering the tundra alone, and blind as he, it filled him with a deep sorrow.  Perhaps his sorrow was greater than his fear, his love than his loneliness?

 

Waking one night, Amarok followed the scent to Sarama.  Pushing up against her, he asked, “What is so beautiful about the sky?”

 

Twisting towards him Sarama, with a voice happier than he had heard for many seasons, yipped, “Who would think the sky could be so beautiful?”

 

Amarok blinked twice in surprise; he was blind, yet still, he blinked with surprise.  Her happy voice, he knew he could never make her speak with such joy in her voice.  Yet he also felt threatened by that joy, if she could never feel such joy with him, why would she stay?  After a moment of hesitation, Amarok looked up at the black sky he couldn’t see, “Of course it is beautiful.  But what makes it so beautiful?  Why is it more special than the snow around you?”

 

Sarama seemed taken aback, startled by an obvious question which she had never asked herself; hesitantly she replied, “Because of all the colors?”  And then, with confidence rising in her voice she regained her happy tone, “The way the sky seems to dance, it prances about.  How could it not be beautiful?  Nothing else seems to dance with such color in this whole world.”

 

Amarok smiled without realizing it; the uncertainty in her voice, it meant that this could work--he did not smile often.  With a calm, deliberate voice, Amarok asked, “What color is my hide?  Does not my fur run with many colors?”  And with a chuckling snort, he added, “And can I not dance as well?”

 

The question startled Sarama, Amarok could feel her body stiffen, she had no idea how to answer.  Amarok suspected that at this very moment, Sarama was wondering if Amarok had never seen his own hide.  Of course Amarok was blind, he may not remember color anymore, but even he could remember the dark black of his own hide, which now filled his eyes.  Eventually Sarama uncertainly replied, “Amarok, your fur is so black, I don’t think there are any colors.”

 

Her lack of certainty confirmed to Amarok that he had succeeded already, he had only to lead her a little further, and they would never have to be apart again.  This knowledge filled him with a hopeful giddiness which he could not suppress from his voice as he looked to the sky and suggested, “Is not the sky black as well, as dark as my fur?  Did you not say the night sky was beautiful?”

 

Sarama seemed to mistaken Amarok’s giddiness with a sense of awe at the beauty of the sky, as she wholeheartedly conceded, “Aye, the sky is every bit as black.”  With a twist of her voice she barked out, “But it is the colors, the way they dance to and fro.”

 

Amarok chortled, “So does my fur.  Look closer, you cannot see it as well because you have never looked.  After all, the sky fills the horizon, my hide would be easier to miss.”

 

And look closer Sarama did, she stared closely at Amarok’s pelt, so close that Amarok could feel her warm breath even through his thick hide.  She stared for a long while, silently studying it.  Amarok didn’t know how well she would fall for his ruse.  But his unease was kept in check by his own conviction that given enough persuading, anyone would see what they wanted to see.

 

Eventually Sarama tentatively conceded, “It’s really hard to see, but I think I can see the colors.”  With a yawn, Sarama moaned, “My eyes are tired.” and she curled up beside Amarok.

 

Amarok lowered himself beside Sarama, satisfied that his plan was working and quietly whispered, “The night sky stays for a few seasons, but I am always beside you...”  And with these words hanging between them, the pair fell asleep; the first long rest either had had in months.

 

Sarama no longer left Amarok to stare off into the sky; the weather was warmer, so perhaps the aurora no longer showed itself.  Sarama seemed content to stare at Amarok’s fur, occasionally asking questions about his pelt.  It seemed so utterly absurd, a blind wolf describing colors he couldn’t remember, so that a dog could see these colors where there were none.  Perhaps it was because of how long Amarok had tried to envision the warmth of color, that he was able to satisfy Sarama’s curiosity.  

 

Many seasons passed, and Amarok never once heard mention of the aurora, or the lights, and eventually the memory of it faded--as before.  Amarok felt content, he was no longer afraid, no longer alone.  Eventually, the pair had pups, young ones which both cared for with devotion.

 

Amarok would have never imagined that he could have felt so happy, so loved.  With the addition of the pups, he now felt that he was part of a pack again.  But he was old when he first met Sarama, and now he could feel his age growing within his bones; he did not have much longer on this tundra.  He wished he had found happiness sooner, because it now felt that his happiness would outlast him, leaving only the pain of a life unfulfilled.  

 

He didn’t want to leave his pups behind, he didn’t want to lose Sarama; he did not want to die.  But he must, he knew this, it is the way of this world.  We are all filled with self-preservation and pain; and as such, we all realize that death looms near and we universally fear it.  Such were the thoughts of Amarok as he would spend hours guarding his pups as Sarama hunted alone; he was too weak to hunt now.  He longed for his sight, longed to at least see his pups, to see anything to distract him from the loneliness of death.

   

His pups seemed to sense something was wrong with their father, because they all nestled close to him.  Or maybe it was just the cold?  Amarok longed for something, what, he didn’t know; he just wished to see something.  With a weary sigh he asked each of his pups, “I love all of you, you are everything to me, yet I cannot see you, and this breaks my heart.  Please, what do you look like?”

 

The pups all shuffled about uncertainly, nipping at each other, but clearly unsettled by the tone in their father--their leader.  Finally one of the pups spoke up, “Father, we are all speckled with the colors of the snow and sky.”

   

Amarok realized he’d never thought about how Sarama had looked; so she had resembled the snow?  It was an odd revelation; he tried to remember the snow.  He felt its moisture, he felt its cold, and occasionally he felt its warmth.  He could hear it crunch beneath his paws, could sense the way it stifled yet amplified all his other senses.  Yet he could not remember its color, only that it was different than what he could see; the opposite perhaps?  He spent a long while thinking about this before asking, as much to himself as to his pups, “Which is more beautiful?”

 

And while the pups had hesitated earlier, now they as one barked out in unison, “The night sky!”

 

With a longing sense of nostalgia, Amarok thought about the sky, and about the lights which he had all but forgotten.  No longer did he feel animosity or fear for them, just a longing nostalgia for that which he could no longer see.  Yet somehow, somehow he knew it to be beautiful.  How he wished he could see the sky one last time, just once.  With a weak groan he asked his pups, “What does it look like?  What colors dance up in the heavens?”

 

The pups yipped out a laugh as one, “Colors?  Why the sky looks just like you father; such a beautiful black.  If you look close enough you can almost see something, but it is the black which is most beautiful.  I wish the whole world was black.  Even mother agrees; that is what she told us.  Your fur is as beautiful as the night sky’s darkest blacks, and it will be with us always.”

 

These words hit like a hammer to Amarok’s fragile heart.  He weakly got to his feet, and stumbled away from the pups, who looked on curiously.  Amarok knew all too well the emptiness that came with a world of black.  Would his pups in their old age, would they ever wish for the warmth of color?  If he had never deceived Sarama, perhaps he could have seen those colors one last time, if only through another’s words.  And now, his prosperity would never know the melancholy joy that a world of colors brings.  

 

Stumbling up to a ledge, Amarok threw his head up to the black sky and let loose his first, and final, howl before collapsing.  As he lay there in the snow, his vision growing darker than even he could have imagined, his final breath rasping out of failing lungs, he thought he heard howling as his pups gathered around him.   

 

 

A black as beautiful as the night sky which would be with them always.

 

 

 



© 2018 Nusquam Esse


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Featured Review

fascinating story telling! the blind wolf is a lovable character. I like how you made him able to survive in a harsh land, for many seasons though he's blind and it turned out quite believable. the ending is sad but I can't think of a better way to end this story.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I really like this story, in fact it's one of my favorites! You did a really good job with imagery and establishing an almost longing feeling.

Posted 9 Years Ago


fascinating story telling! the blind wolf is a lovable character. I like how you made him able to survive in a harsh land, for many seasons though he's blind and it turned out quite believable. the ending is sad but I can't think of a better way to end this story.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

What a beautiful love story. :)
Enjoyed every word.!


Posted 9 Years Ago


Was entranced by the story from the start; it fuelled so many thoughts. Is it a metaphor for something else? The color/darkness dichotomy made me think so. I wish I were able to describe with words how and what I felt while reading it- I'm a synesthete and colors play an important role in my life. Anyway, amazing work!

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This reads to me as a wonderful children's book with a bit of tweaking here and there! my mother wrote children's books and was moderately successful. For some reason it seems the industry does not hold books for children to the same standards as mainstream...at least it seems to me. I am sure that there are many publishers out there looking for something fresh and new....a whole series of books on this wolf and his adventures. Hell even to take this idea and writ it as a script for submission to companies such as DREAMWORKS and the like. I think you got a tiger...errr... uhhh... a wolf by the tail here my friend!

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

You made me cry...what a wonderful story. So very touching. So easy to read too, I was completely lost in your words and was able to envision it all... It was perfect! :) x

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

You're a good story teller my friend and love the way you create a wolf star of your story. I enjoyed the whole read good job once again

Posted 10 Years Ago


I thought this was excellent. About half way through I got hit with that feeling of dread where I knew it wasn't going to end well for all involved and it kind of made me read more intensely, clinging to what little time I felt was left with the characters. Truly, I thought this was wonderful and I do not think a single part of it should be changed or altered. Well done.

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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Bri
This is a really good idea you have here. I like what you've put together. I remember Amaroq from Julie of the Wolves and how he was on the tundra. lol, that's what popped into my head as I read this.

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Nusquam Esse

10 Years Ago

Amarok is an Inuit name (there are several legends and tribes) for the god of Wolves. Sarama on the.. read more
Bri

10 Years Ago

I like that. I like to name characters after roman stars or Greek names always work nicely.

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Added on January 4, 2014
Last Updated on May 23, 2018
Tags: Surrealism, Existentialism, Allegory, Wolf, Loneliness, Color, Aurora, Legacy


Author

Nusquam Esse
Nusquam Esse

Ogden, UT



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****I have disabled RRs, since I just don't have the time and energy to continue returning every review. I have enough on my plate without nagging feelings of obligation; so please, do NOT review me .. more..

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