Wolf was there, the one from the canyon. I couldn’t focus my eyes on them. 
Wolf: “Sit. [It may have been a boulder, or the foundation of a building.] What it was supposed to have been or used for does not matter any longer. Now its purpose is to be a seat for you.” 

Wolf perched on the ruins of an old home, or a shop, or a wall. Suddenly I could see them. They were beautiful and full of contradictions. Pitch black, darker than night, grey, silver, charcoal, elegant, smoke, clearly defined, without boundaries – everything and nothing at once. 

Wolf: “You winced.”
“My back.”
Wolf: “You are carrying things that are not yours to bear.”
“Could we walk?”
Wolf: “You are stupid. And brave.”
“I’ve rebuilt myself a few times now. I’d rather not be afraid. It’s not useful.”
Wolf: “Stupid and brave. We can walk.”
“If I am stupid and brave, who are you?”
Wolf: “your shadow.”

Our path stretched forward and back, over and around hills and mountains, beyond the horizons. This land is one of belongings left in a hurry, crumbling foundations, and dead landscapes. It aches of pain and broken promises:

“I promised myself I’d be the person I needed – promise. They say I broke a promise; the trust that promise needed was broken long before. This. This is something that isn’t mine to carry. It’s here, under my right shoulder blade--”

I stopped mid-stride and looked at Wolf, my hands reaching behind my back. If I was made of starlight, and the Alchemist had taught me to weave starlight, then I should be able to separate myself from not-myself. Cradling a mess of silver-blue and multicolored threads in front of me, a silver-blue string attaching the knot to my back, I picked the threads apart and let the colors that didn’t belong drift away into the dirty brown-grey sky. When only silver-blue was left, I realized I could only partially get this piece back into place. Wolf helped put me back together, somehow. They did so without moving. 

“How do I keep things from getting stuck?”
Wolf: [laughing] “You already know how to do that.”
“Can we keep walking?
Wolf: “You are brave and stupid. We can walk.”
“If I am brave and stupid, who are you?”
Wolf: “Like the others, I am you and more than you. Humans would call us gods, though we are far greater than that lesser being you once cursed at under the night sky.”

We passed petrified trees, burnt-out buildings, forests, and fields dead from drought. Foundations razed after plague. famine. land left fallow for lack of humans.
“This is not all my debt coming due–past due. Some of it is so very old, but it feels familiar.”
Wolf: “We are outside of time. Healing yourself will break cycles forward and back.” 
“This feels like what the Ghost Pipe showed, entwined with generations, and harm done to those I – and they – loved.”
Wolf: “Your name is written in the stars. You are the hope your ancestors foretold.”
“If I've been foretold in the stars, and you are part of me, then who - what - are you?”
Wolf: “You should be afraid.”
“I'm not.”
Wolf: “Brave and stupid indeed.”
“Can you teach me? You are powerful and wise, and you understand things. I’m not just asking because of power– you see things that otherwise would be left hidden. Things that many would prefer to stay hidden even within themselves. Things I want to unearth and understand.” 
Wolf: “You should be afraid.”
“I'm not. Can we keep walking?”
Wolf: “You don’t know when to stop. Brave and stupid.”
As we walked, I noticed blue-silver starlight growing stronger, coming from the piece of myself that was woven earlier. The green dappled forest light from our grounding appeared and deepened in intensity. I felt the warmth of the Ghost Pipe’s protection juxtaposed against the landscape sprawled around us. 

“Can you teach me to see what is still hidden?”
Wolf: “You don’t know what you are asking. You should be afraid.”
“Well, those both might be true. But I'm not afraid.”
Wolf: “No one does this. It’s not advised.” 
[this is where I was asking / volunteering for the hospital and burning?]

Words clearly weren’t working. Wolf, the one who saw everything hidden, was going to need this spelled out in a different way. Frustrated, I realized that only a few minutes earlier I had untangled something foreign from my body and sort of put myself back together – and that Wolf had been willing to help with the rest. And now the Ghost Pipe was here as well. I didn’t pause to think. 

Sinking my fingers between my ribs and my sternum, I grabbed each side of my ribcage and ripped my chest apart. No longer made of skin and bones and organs, I was silver-blue light. As I tore, the green light around us grew stronger. The Shadow, the Wolf stared directly into the silver-blue of my chest everything I didn’t/don’t have words for, everything they already knew. Their gaze felt like pouring Peroxide on a wound but also oddly soothing. Wolf saw the most vulnerable, hidden parts it already knew about, but I don’t know how to unearth. 

I showed Wolf what I was attempting to say: I wanted to turn everything inside out, to break cycles and heal in a way Wolf knows how to do. And I needed to learn this skill, not just have the work done on my behalf.  
Bear, Alchemist, and all three of Stag’s eyes focused on us from outside this space. This attention wasn’t disapproving, but rather, seemed to say, “you have no idea what you actually just did.” [cpmcermed]
Wolf: “You are brave. And still stupid. Hurry, we must stitch you back together. This is not a place you can stay.” 
The silver-blue starlight was tucked back inside me as Wolf wove my chest back together. The green dappled light continued to grow stronger. As they lost definition, Wolf breathed out: “go.”
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