Girl was rudely awakened by a massive BLAM and an incredibly bright flash of light. She jerked upright, hand to her mouth, quivering and afraid. She was confused as to where she was, having been ripped from a sound sleep. Her head whipped around, quartering the room, looking for something familiar and not finding it, her heart beating furiously.
Another blinding flash and crash of thunder shook the cabin, and she shrieked, completely disoriented now, and frightened.
Then a dark shape loomed in the door to her room, huge and moving quickly towards her. She screamed and crawled up the wall.
“GIRL! It’s me… It’s Bear! It’s okay, it’s just a thunderstorm!”
The shape backed off, then settled, seated in the doorway. Another flash and crash illuminated the white form of a huge animal, regarding her with large, liquid eyes.
As soon as she remembered and recognized the Bear, she leaped across the room and fastened herself around his neck. “Oh, God, Bear! I was so frightened. I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know…”
“It’s okay Girl, I’m here. You’re safe, no one will harm you.”
He felt tears on his neck. “And that’s what happened, isn’t it? Someone…hurt you…didn’t they?”
She didn’t answer but nodded her head into his neck.
“That’s not going to happen anymore. You’re safe here. I promise.”
She clung to him even more tightly, then said in a muffled voice, “Why?”
Bear drew back, “I’m sorry – why what?”
She slowly drew back from him, keeping a hold of his neck. “Why would you do that for me? I’m…nothing.”
Now the Bear drew back farther so he could focus on her. “Girl? There is no way on God’s green Earth that you are nothing. And anyone who would tell you that is…well, less than human.”
She shook her head no.
“Girl, please, look at me. Please.”
Slowly, she eased back and looked down, not meeting his eyes.
“You are not nothing. Someone has been telling you that for, I’m guessing, a very long time, trying to beat you down, grind you into submission. But it’s not true.” He shook her gently.
“In the short time that we’ve known each other, it is clear to me that you are bright, even brilliant, really. You are educated, articulate, feisty, funny…and fun. You are someone I have come to respect very quickly – and that doesn’t…I mean didn’t happen – very often.”
Bear heaved a deep sigh, “And Girl? You have already made an incredible difference in my life. You have no idea how…lonely…I was. I told you that you might have saved my life. I was not exaggerating. I was truly getting desperate.
“You saved me, Girl. Thank you.”
She looked up at Bear in wonder.
Bear hugged her close. “You are a wonder, Girl. A marvel, and no joke.”
She leaned back and looked at him, tears in her eyes. “Bear…that’s…that’s the kindest thing anyone has said to me in…in…I don’t know how long. I just wish it were true.” And she looked down at the floor again.
Bear thought about repeating himself but decided it would take time and patience to clear up some of the damage that had been done to his friend. “Grab your blanket and pillow, and come out into the great room with me, okay?”
Still looking at the floor, Girl nodded, turned and grabbed the bedclothes, and pulled them out onto the rag rug before the fire.
“There’s probably not much point trying to get back to sleep until this storm front passes. Would you like to watch the fireworks?”
Girl looked at him, “What do you mean?”
Bear padded over to the door and swung it wide. The view outside, where lightning still crackled, although farther away now, was quite remarkable.
“Aren’t you afraid of letting the rain in?” Girl asked.
“Nope. Nothing comes in without my approval…especially rain! That’s part of the Charm I told you about.”
Girl nodded, then stopped. “But…then those…men couldn’t have come in anyway, could they?”
Bear shook his head. “No. But then what, after they’d seen a cabin but found they couldn’t enter it?”
“Ohhhh…right. They would have kept trying, and eventually brought other people up here to try…yes, I see. It can protect you from immediate harm, but, long-term?” She shook her head.
“Right. The best way to deal with some problems is not to let them arise in the first place. Anyway, come close and enjoy the show.”
Girl wrapped the blanket around her, and sat next to Bear, in the doorway. The breeze blew in – air, after all, was something Bear wanted to allow in the cabin – and it caused her blanket to flap, but the rain stayed out.
Girl leaned against the Bear and watched Nature’s pyrotechnic display, the two of them watching well into the night until the storm front finally moved away.
By that time, Girl was more than drowsy but made a cranky fuss when Bear tried to move her back to her bedroom. Sighing, he curled up on the rug in front of the dying fire, then had her curl up, leaning against him.
They slept, both of them in separate dreams, but both with a strange, but wondrous, feeling of coziness that neither had felt in a very long time.
Girl woke in her bed the next morning. Looking at the window, she saw a beautiful day outside, and so carefully swung her legs around, and stood. Feeling better, although still achy, she started to walk out of the room, then stopped and looked at the chest of drawers.
She pulled the wooden nobs on the top drawer and saw inside a number of pairs of women’s panties. She checked the other drawers and found other women’s clothing. She held some of the items up to herself, and found that they were close enough to her size that she could probably use them – at least as a stop-gap. The bras, unfortunately, were too small to be helpful.
She carefully returned everything to the drawers from which she had found them, then walked into the great room.
She was unsurprised to find it empty and walked out to the porch. Now she was surprised because Bear was not in his usual place. She sat on the rocking chair, and let the magic of the mountains soothe her, as she remembered the dramatic scenes from the night before.
After a while – she couldn’t really tell how long – Bear came walking back into the meadow, with what seemed like a jaunty swing to his gait. Finally seeing her, he sped up somewhat, then said, when he was close, “Well, good morning!”
She smiled back at him. “Good morning to you, too, Mr. Bear. You are well?”
“Yup, fine as rain, full of breakfast, and looking forward to spending time with my current favorite human!”
She giggled. “Are there a lot of competitors for the role?”
Bear’s face split into a grin, “Well…now that you mention it…no. You won by acclamation! Congratulations, Girl!”
She giggled again, “It’s nice to win something! I never win contests, not even the ones that offer ‘10% off your next purchase!’ as a consolation prize!”
She shifted slightly, then said, “Bear, there are women’s clothes in the chest of drawers in the room where I’m sleeping. Would it be okay if I borrowed some? My underwear in particular could use a change of scenery!”
Bear’s good mood suddenly seemed to vanish, and he looked down. He walked past her into the cabin, and said, on the way past, “Sure. Go ahead.”
Girl realized that something was wrong, so followed him in. “Bear? I…I’m sorry if I said something wrong, or poked into something I shouldn’t have. Forgive me?”
Bear looked off to the far end of the room for a time, then swung his head back to face her. “You did nothing wrong. Of course, you should use those clothes if you can. I didn’t even stop to think about clothes for you. My apologies.”
Girl walked slowly towards him. “She…she was important to you, wasn’t she…”
Bear abruptly got up and left the cabin, brushing past her, then loping off back into the woods until he vanished from sight.