A strange love story between a deer and a bear.
| The forest was whispering. Trees were alive; it was possible to hear them speaking clearly within each other while the shadows danced in harmony with the morning breeze. The floor was quiet, undisturbed. A bear appeared, he was looking for his first meal of the day, he had seen something moving in the bushes, although he could not make what it was since the animal still had his head down in the bushes, but he could smell the delicious scent of fresh food. He was getting closer when all of a sudden the animal raised his head. The bear stopped. A beautiful deer was standing in front of him, facing him. The bear felt compelled to abandon his hunt and leave after looking at the creature. He tried to shake the feeling and stepped forward. Although when he looked at the deer again, he felt an unusual sensation of comfort pass through him. The deer did not show any signs of fear or threat. She stood there looking back at the bear as if wondering what thoughts were crossing the hunter’s mind. Nothing happened for a few moments. Unexpectedly the bear turned his back and moved away.
“Wait...” The deer said. The bear stopped moving, did not turned his head straight away. “Why don’t you kill me?” The deer asked, puzzled.
The bear turned his head and gasped.
"Now the big hunter besides being a vegan is also picky? There ‘s enough green stuff here for both of us, Why don‘ t you join me?" The deer asked smiling.
“I believe you should take advantage of what just happened and leave.” The bear finally said.
The forest tensed. The bear was now facing the deer with a rigid expression and yet the deer did not show any signs of awe. She knew that death eventually comes to us all: So she waited for the bear to strike the deadly blow, - after his abrupt change – but nothing happened. The bear did not seem determined to kill her regardless of his hunger; he also ignored his animal instinct. Instead he smiled and said; “You know... I will look for food somewhere else, feel free to stay." he turned his back and disappeared into the woods.
Time passed, the bear never went back to where he had found the deer, and day after day, he would live his life pretending that he had never seen her. He hunted, rested and wandered around as if nothing had happened. At least he tried to. He knew deep inside that something within him had changed. He tried, unsuccessfully, to fight that comfort he kept feeling.
The rainy days of spring finally came. The skies were crying incessantly, the trees panted loudly with their branches and leaves while the wind blew with grandiosity. From the bear's cave, he could feel the coldness of an empty life pass savagely through him. He tried desperately, vainly, to keep himself warm. He was sitting close to the entrance looking to the endless rain falling over the trees and, forest and its creatures when he had the strange feeling that something was observing him. He ignored the feeling and kept contemplating the life outside. Suddenly he saw the deer running, running quickly. At that moment, he felt the comfort he had found in the deer expel the cold feeling from his body. The deer stopped. The bear raised his head expectantly, ceased to breathe and felt his heart beating faster than ever, racing uncontrollably even after all his years of fighting and hunting; it was strange to the him, unusual “What’s this thing, this sensation that insists on revealing itself?” The bear thought to himself. Blinded by his thoughts, the bear did not notice the deer approaching. She was now standing, silently, in front of him. They remained in front of each other for what seemed – to the bear – like an eternity. All of a sudden, the bear broke the silence. “Why are you here? You know that I am dangerous, right?” The bear asked. The deer smiled. The bear spoke again, “You must be a silly deer if you don’t feel the fear spread through all your body.” He said. This time the deer smiled even more and replied, “I am no silly deer, yes my body is yelling urgently to my brain, yet my heart refuses to acknowledge it. That’s why I do not fear you.”
“You know how silly that sounds?” Asked the bear.
“Do you know how silly you sound trying to act all tough?” The deer asked, amused.
The bear got up, growled to the deer with his eyes and mouth wide open.
“Really, that’s how you plan on getting rid of me? The deer smiled.
“No, that’s how I make sure that your words are sincere. The bear said.
“You could have just asked,” responded the deer.
“I could, but words are just words and sometimes, behaviour speaks louder, clearly than words.” The bear said with severity.
“You sound like a soul that has suffered a lot. No wonder why you are the way you are.” The deer muttered.
The rain stopped, the clouds dispersed and cleared the sky, life returned to its calm. The bear felt calmer, in peace with himself.
“Thank you, you’ve no idea how better I feel now.” The bear confessed.
“Actually, I do know how you feel. Until that day in the bushes, I feared the idea of seeing a bear so close to me. I feared you, bears in general, not because you are bad beings, but because I grew up listening that I should always stay away from creatures such as yourself. That idea had been imprinted in my mind.” - The deer said, absorbed in her memories - “«Bears feed on us. » The elders always say to the younger deer.”
“If you were told to avoid us and knew it was dangerous, why did you come to my territory anyway? The bear asked with curiosity.
“I decided it would do me good to look for food somewhere else, different, to explore the unknown by myself. I moved away from my herd. It felt right, I felt comfortable, secure with the idea, so I escaped to this side of the forest. That is why you saw me that day. The deer said.
“That’s also why I came here today.” - She said shyly stepping forward, now with half her body inside the cave. - “We haven’t been introduced yet. My name is Serendipity. What’s yours?”
The bear remained silent as if considering the question.
“My name is Nefelibata.” the bear responded.
“What kind of name is Nefelibata?” The deer asked, curious.
“That was the name given by my people...,” the bear said, not looking very proud.
He turned his head to the side, exhaled.
“You should leave now.” That was all he said.
The bear pointed the exit with his head and turned around.
“Nefelibata?”, - A female voice called. - “Nefelibata?” The voice would not cease. The bear stepped outside. Everything around him was burning. Death was the new face of the forest. It was possible to ear cries of pain everywhere “Nefelibata?” He kept hearing this voice. It sounded familiar, but impossibly real: His mother had died long ago. Despite all the fire, he did not feel affected by the pain or extreme heat. Suddenly, he saw his sister and father together, his father was just standing there next to his sister, with burned and dead trees surrounding them. “Nefelibata?” He heard one last time. Before him, on the ground, were the lifeless bodies of his father and sister. He woke up.
The bear woke up; the sun was high in the sky, another beautiful day in the forest. He got up, stretched his body and went outside to greet the sun. On his way to the river, he heard the footsteps of an animal closing in, he recognised the lingering smell, it was exactly the same smell this animal had left in the air moments before. The trail was fresh. The bear walked calmly towards the river, and there he waited.
“You need to stop following me.” The bear said while he tried to catch something with his paws.
“I would not need to be so persistent if you were not so resilient.”
“You don’t know what you are getting yourself into. You do not want to be around me; I assure you that.” The bear spoke as he kept trying to catch what seemed to be a fish.
“Maybe I do. Otherwise I would I be here, right?” The deer asked.
“Like I said before, maybe it is because you are a silly deer. Now leave me alone.”
“No. Let me stay with you today.”
“OK, whatever you do, don’t bother me.”
“Deal.” the deer smiled.
The bear ate his fish, drank some water and left. The deer followed him. They headed to the highest side of the woods, close to the edge. From there it was possible see almost everything. The bear sat on the ground, closed his eyes and there he stayed until the last beam of light disappeared behind the horizon. When he opened his eyes, it was night and he noticed that the deer was sleeping soundly on the ground, right next to him. For the first time the bear relaxed, closed his eyes and while waited for the deer to wake from her peaceful sleep, he fell asleep too.
The next day, both woke up at dawn. A mist covered the trees; the sky was cloudy and greyish.
“You should go Serendipity…your people his looking for you.”
Hearing her name filled her heart with such happiness that she thought for a moment that she was dreaming, that they were not there, “Serendipity?” This time she forced herself up, smiling and darted into the woods.
“Serendipity, do not go looking for food beyond our land, OK? It’s dangerous.” Her sister said.
“Why is it so dangerous Callowea? Serendipity asked.
“It’s dangerous because there we are the food.” The sister responded
“Tell me, do you fear the things you know that exist out there or the things you were told that exist out there, maybe both?”
“I don’t fear anything. I just don’t like to ignore the teachings of the elders.” Callowea admitted with uncertainty.
“So basically, you accept everything you hear as fact, is that it?”
“No. I believe in what they say because they were here before we were even born.”
“So Callowea, what you are saying is that whatever the elders say is immutable, irrefutable?
“Tell me sister; how can we grow and with growth I mean evolve and learn what truth is if we are too scared to go out of our comfort zone, to explore the unknown by ourselves, to explore ourselves?
“Serendipity, stop with your crazy ideas. It’s dangerous for you…”
“Again, It’s dangerous to have a mind of my own, is that it Callowea? - Serendipity could not help but to challenge her sister’s beliefs and way of thinking – let us return, it has been enough for today, she said.
“One day you’ll get yourself in trouble if you don’t stop thinking and saying the things you say…”
“I will only be in trouble the day I close my eyes and mind to the world. Do you understand me?
“To be honest I don’t and I don’t want to. Let‘ s go.”
The night was falling when they returned to their family and friends. Callowea waited for Serendipity to leave her so that she could share what her sister had said that afternoon, but she never did, instead she insisted in accompanying her to their parents. And there she remained there until everyone was sleeping.
“One day I will see the starts from a different place.” Serendipity said before closing her eyes to the night.
A fish was swimming up the icy river, dodging the rocks here and there while trying to reach its destination. The presence of the fish did not disturb the river’s surface; you could not hear him either. Yet, nothing could hide or camouflage the body of the fish. The bear had seen him and was waiting patiently for his prey. “Meraki, Meraki” The voices of the other bears suppressed the voices and sounds of the forest. “Meraki!” All the bears were there, watching. The great Meraki was about to fight. The big arena was waiting; in the middle was one of the bears that came from the north hoping to challenge and win against the southern bears. It was a Mating ritual. I had no reason to fight him; I did not want a mate. “Meraki” He went to the centre, faced the northern bear and bowed. Silence was all he heard at first, then came the sound of our breathing, then…peace: A new silence. He looked at the other bear and waited. Both waited. The ambiance tensed. I drew a line in front of me with my left paw and growled. When I looked around, I could only make dark and blurred shapes surrounding us. My opponent seemed to hesitate, for an instant, before moving one-step forward. The ground was vibrating and at each breathe that we drew the tension increased. He darted towards me with blind fury. I counted the seconds. One, two, three… I stepped to the left and raised my right paw to strike him straight in his head. The northern beast got up as fast as he could and with savage blindness, he came, carelessly, at me, again, with everything he had. I dodged here and there and waited for him to run out of stamina it only took me a precise moment. The Northern bear was big, but not much of a warrior. In the end, I just had to wait and deal the last blow. Tap. One tap in his head was all it took to me to win the fight. Suddenly, my hearing returned and the sounds of the other bears with it. The crowd dispersed, the northern bear stayed lying on the floor. I left without speaking to anyone especially the other bears from the north. The fish was only inches away now. The bear counted one, two, and three…splash. The fish flew to the wet and grassy floor. I have one fish. The bear waited in position and stroke again… and two. He had his meal ready.
While he ate he recalled the previous night, the company of Serendipity and the pleasure of opening his eyes in the morning and being able to see her there right next to him. What happened to her? He finished eating and went for a walk. The afternoon was inviting.
Serendipity was darting through the forest as fast as she could. The voices of the other deer were becoming clear and clear. Suddenly “Serendipity?” She heard calling not far from where she was. She slowed down, slowed the pace to a walking pace and answered the call “Here, I am here.” Callowea appeared from the bushes. “There you are!” We were worried sick about you, you know?” It was possible to notice the worry in her voice. “Let’s go.” Serendipity said. Together they went back to the others. The other deer received Serendipity with happiness. “We thought he had lost you” she heard from a couple of deer while others just said “Welcome back!” That would be the last time any of the deer’s would see or hear Serendipity again. She said goodbye to her parents and sister and explained she could not stay there any more. She spoke about the bear Nefelibata. Despite all the efforts, her family failed to persuade her to abandon the idea of having a bear for a friend.
“Since I was little that I hear that bears eat deer, bears are dangerous, and bears kill deer.” Serendipity said with sadness “Since I was kid I was forced to live within our land and avoid the world outside. I had to accept, against my will all the teachings as fact. However, that will not happen again. From now on, I will live my life as I see fit and if something feels right, I will do it.”
This time her father spoke. “Since you were a child, Serendipity, my daughter, we knew you would mean trouble, yet, you were born exactly when we least expected and were the most desired: You were our first daughter. “He closed his eyes and proceed” If you want to be friends with that bear, you leaves us no choice but to force you to leave, to abandon your life and family and leave forever.”
“You need to make your mind. What is it going to be?
“Serendipity, I can’t and I won’t allow you put your life and the lives of the other deer in danger just because you want to be with that bear. The killer…” The father opened his eyes and said before leaving. “I will feel disappointed with you If I do not see you in the morning. I’ll take that as your definitive choice and that you no longer are part of this family. Good Night Serendipity.” Serendipity’s mother moved away too, following the father.
Callowea looked at her sister with disapproval and left too.
The night was quiet, quieter than usual. The sky was so clear that you could see the tiniest detail on the big black canvas. The moon was shinning with excellence. The nocturne breeze seemed to be the only thing wandering around. Nefelibata stood there, right where he had found Serendipity for the first time. He waited as if expecting something. Suddenly, the sound of faint steps, small steps yet precise became clear. The bushes started to move as if something was moving inside. Nefelibata waited for the sound to cease, but it never did, it persisted. From the bushes, the bear could now make Serendipity’s head. He smiled. Serendipity surprised, stopped. She was not expecting to see him there. “What are you doing here Nefelibata?” She asked surprisingly happy.
“Well, after what happened today, I got worried about you. I kept asking myself if you were OK.” Nefelibata confessed. Happiness was clearly visible in his face.
“Then something happened… I had this weird feeling that I had to wait…here.”
“While I was running in the forest this morning I got the feeling that I would see you again, so I did not worry at all.” Serendipity grinned. Serendipity came close to Nefelibata and leaned her head towards his. Shoulder with shoulder they walked to the bear's cave. That night, both slept peacefully.
The birds were singing by the entrance when they woke up. “Good morning.” they said to each other with a smile. That day, Nefelibata accompanied Serendipity while she was looking for food. While she was looking for food, they talked. They did not discuss what happened the day before. He knew that when the time was right, they would talk. The Bear did not have to wait much to eat. The river was over abundant that day. While he ate, they spoke and laughed together. They wanted to make the most of their time together. After both had finished their meals, they went to the same place where they had spent their first the night together. This time, the deer closed her eyes too and enjoyed the silence and peace of the moment. Many days like these would pass before they talk about what happened.
One noon, during summer, Nefelibata had to stop his hunting because he felt the smell of another deer nearby. Serendipity was standing right next to him.
“There’s one of your friends hiding in the woods. “The bear said.
“A deer? Where is she?” Serendipity asked with alertness.
“He or she is a few meters behind us. Wait until we turn around, don‘ t look now.” Nefelibata said and turned around. “Come.”
They turned around and walked south when Serendipity notice who was spying on them. She told Nefelibata that she would look for plants not far from there and left the bear alone.
Callowea remained silent, hidden. Absorbed by the bear, Callowea did not hear Serendipity approximate.
“What are you doing here?”
“I…I…was just looking for you.” Callowea responded nervously.
“There’s nothing for you here. Leave.” Serendipity said sharply.
Callowea lowered her head and spoke. “I miss you, your absence brought sadness upon our family. Father is sorry.”
“Father’s words still linger in my heart…” Serendipity spoke coldly “Your minds and words are my sorrow. I would rather live here with the danger than there with you… you and your small visions and minds: minds that cannot comprehend small things such as acceptance for other’s differences. ”
Callowea kept her head down while Serendipity spoke.
“Leave, tell father that I am well and that he doesn’t need to worry about me. Leave.”
Callowea did not look to her sister; she was too ashamed to face her. Instead, she turned around and ran. Nefelibata had heard the conversation. When Serendipity returned he noticed how angry she was. He did not speak to her, instead leaned his head to hers. “I am here if you need to talk.” The bear said.
The next day, Nefelibata was the first to break the silence. He waited until they were resting by a big tree to bring the subject up. “I will tell you a story; you don’t need to say anything afterwards. Just listen; my names used to be Meraki, I had a family and was respected by the other bears. I used to live in a land beyond that small mountain over there. One day the Humans came to our lands and started to kill my fellow brothers and sisters. Everyone was afraid, and everyday more and more would perish to the arts of those savage humans. My mother Kintsukuroi always persuaded me to do the right thing, to be patient and never to seek revenge. When our family started to fall one by one, I found it harder and harder to restrain my anger, to control it. I would punch and scratch the trees until they were smashed and I calmer. However, one day, when I was on my way home I heard a sound that was unknown to me at that time. I got scared, so I ran, a second and a third sound came from different sides. I was close to the place where we bears used to live. When I got there I did not see any one at first, then I noticed these brown and black shapes emerging from the grey clouds, clouds of heavy breathing. They were the bodies of my family members, not all but a great number of them. At the time I did not knew that most of them were hiding in the woods. I was burning with hatred and went after the creatures responsible for my grief. I chased the few that were still in the surrounding area and killed them. Their deaths had repercussions. The next day there were more humans looking for us, this time they had things with them, things that could blow a bear to pieces. Even today, I do not know what those things were. More of us died. That day, I lost my mother and sister. When the evil creatures, the humans left, the remaining of my people appeared from the shadows and cursed me for all the deaths and grief I had brought upon them and myself. They changed my name to Nefelibata, the cloud-walker and sent me to exile. Since then I never saw another bear. I still hear, from time to time a bear calling another in the distance… I heard one two days ago.“
“I know that you asked me not to say anything, but my story seems now small, meaningless compared to yours. “Serendipity said.
The night covered the day and the forest‘ s surface. Serendipity and Nefelibata were gazing at the stars. Crickets sang everywhere, the leaves danced smoothly with the wind. It was a warm night. Serendipity felt the need to speak.
“It was in a night very similar to this one that my father made me choose between you and them…It was not fair, how could he?” Serendipity said, sadly.
“I remember that night.”
Serendipity did not open her eyes, but even in the dark, Nefelibata noticed something small shining in her eyes. It rolled down her face.
“My father made me choose between being happy and living a life of mental and physical imprisonment… Therefore, I chose you over them. How could I deprive myself of such happiness? Such freedom.”
“….” Nefelibata felt like saying something, but he was not sad with what he just heard, he was happy.
“Serendipity…I spent too many years alone, empty. Please do not think that I am selfish, no. You asked me why I did not kill you when we first met and I owe you an answer.” Nefelibata was smiling. “Even now I don’t know why I did not kill you that day, although I know why I let you live. That I know with certainty: When I first saw you, I did not see a deer but an answer, an opportunity. The only reason I kept avoiding you, trying to push you way from me was because I was scared: I was scared because I did not want to lose you. Everyday, I would think about you and imagine you, imagine what you were doing, just to feel that comfort I felt when I first looked at you. ”
Serendipity opened her eyes, looked at Nefelibata and cried. The sounds from the forest faded.
“The pain in my heart eases greatly with the sound of your words. Your presence in my life is bliss.” Serendipity was smiling as the tears rolled down her face.
“We’ve been together for a while now. Serendipity, I have to thank you for being part of my life and for accepting me exactly as I am.” Nefelibata said smiling. “I shall stay by your side and love you for as long as you breathe.
“And I shall remain by yours my love. I too need to thank you for seeing beauty in this rebellious being, in me. “
“That’s the most touching thing I ever heard.” A voice said laughing.
Serendipity and Nefelibata did not move.
“Who are you?” Nefelibata asked calmly.
“My name is Antiscians, I have to confess that I had never seen a duo so weird, unusual, unnatural such as yourselves.”
“I am Nefelibata, nice to meet you Antiscians.”
“I know who you are Meraki. Your fellow bears, the ones that sent you to exile told me where to find you.”
Serendipity just listened to Antiscians speaking.
“My name is no longer Meraki, but Nefelibata.”
“Stop punishing yourself Meraki. It won’t change anything, don’t you agree?” Antiscians said with a smile. “Who’s your friend?”
“Serendipity, she isn’t just my friend but my partner.”
“A deer for a partner… Interesting.” Antiscians said with a malicious tone. “See you around Meraki.”
The forest resumed its singing.