“You misanthrope,” she said when I chased her out the cabin door. Didn’t she already know what I was when she came up the river to where I lived, a hundred miles from any other human being? I always wished to be by myself, but she had wedding plans for me. Why, I didn’t know because I hardly ever showered or shaved, and I loved my dogs more than I’d ever love a woman.
“We’re all connected, you see,” she said, “and get over your mother. All women aren’t like her you know. If you don’t, you’ll always awake to an empty bed.”
How wrong she was. My dogs always slept with me, and will until the day I die. When I go to the other side, maybe my dogs and I will become one, and we’ll never need another. When we get there, we’ll see that we have lived before and can talk about the women and other dogs that filled our lives before this time.
Ice covered the river and she cried, “How will I get home?”
I gave her a pair of ice skates, and as she skated across the ice, I wondered if being alone was a wish some part of me made many years ago. When she fell through a hole in the ice, I knew it isn’t what I wanted at all. I grabbed my rawhide rope and pulled her from the ice. Carried her to my log cabin and set her close to the fire. I gave her mouth-to-mouth to get her to breathe, and I took off her wet clothes.
I watched her naked chest rise and fall as life-giving breath filled her lungs. Feelings of love grabbed hold of me and I never wanted to let her go. I held her in my hairy arms, and my heart skipped a few beats when her eyes fluttered and she awoke.
“I want to wake with my hand resting on the one I love, and that’s you,” I said. “We’ll live together until the end.”
“If you’ll take a shower in the spring, I’ll agree,” she said.
I promised I would, but prayed that spring would never come.