Fenrir



We first found him as a pup, lost and starving in a ditch by our house. He was tiny, fitting perfectly in the palm of my hand, this little black and white ball of fluff. His eyes met mine when I first picked him up, full of depth and sorrow. I had to take him home.

Our 5-year-old daughter Ava took him in her arms and refused to let him go. She named him Fenrir, after a wolf she read about in a book on Scandinavian folktales. Apt, since we had lived in Scandinavia all her life.

For most of his puppyhood, Fenrir slept beside Ava. When he grew larger, he slept by her feet, and later, on the ground next to her bed when he could no longer fit on it. She always dropped her hand over the side to touch his fur. She told me it comforted her.

Fenrir grew fast. By year's end, he was fully grown, handsome and dignified with a coat sleek and black as onyx. All his baby white fur was gone, but for a small patch on his chest.

The vet declared that he must be part-wolf for his size and wolven face. But Fenrir had the good nature of a golden retriever and was gentler than a kitten, especially with Ava whom he now towered over. He loved her with all his heart and followed her everywhere.

He never did stop growing, however. Soon, he was the size of a horse. The vet could not explain that.

We built him his own barn in the backyard and took him to the forest for long walks.

In another year, he was the size of a bus and could no longer comfortably fit in our small yard. We moved him to a grassy clearing next to the forest. There was a pond which housed a family of ducks and an old grumpy snapping turtle he surprisingly befriended for company.

Ava visited him daily. Often, I would find them in the open plain near the heart of the forest, a tiny little girl lying peacefully against a bus-sized black wolf, singing him her favorite songs.

He was the size of our house when the accident happened: a drunk driver lost control of his car and smashed into Ava, standing on the curb.

My little girl, sweeter than the Sun, gone in an instant. I held her till they pried her from me, promising they would bring her home after their investigations were done. But too late, she was already gone.

Fenrir was frantic when she hadn't visited in days, howling every night with a roar that shook the ground, until the day we carried her and placed her beside him.

Between our tear-drenched faces and her unmoving form, he understood, very gently nuzzling her and bowing his head before we placed her in the ground.

We buried her in their favorite place by the forest and marked her grave with a young bamboo sapling.

She once told me that the bamboo was a miracle plant. It provided food, water, shelter, and weaponry. Everything one needed to survive a disaster.

So we chose it for her. A final gesture to our beloved girl. We could not imagine how we would carry on without her.

Fenrir watched helplessly, his window-sized eyes damp with tears, creating large pools as they fell into the grass. He brought the rain with his grief.

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He stayed with her for a year. The vegetation around him disappeared as he grazed. He grew to the size of a football field.

The bamboo around her grave sprung new saplings and grew so tall, the branches seemed to graze the sky.

We would find him lying listlessly beside her grave, staring into space. He would nuzzle us gently then return to his tearful gazing. Ava's death created a hole in his heart he could never mend. He loved her as much as we did. Perhaps even more.

One day, he consumed the forest bare, and vanished without a trace. No track marks. No evidence he was ever there. Where trees once stood, now lay an expanse of barren land.

I should have suspected when we last visited. He nuzzled us for a long time and bowed before settling down for the night. It was his way of saying farewell.

For in the morning, the world was gone, except for our cottage and the plot of grass where Ava was buried.

We trekked out as far as we could, searching for anything at all that remained, but found nothing but sand. Finally, we returned home, weak and starving, and resigned.

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Often, we peered out into the sandy wastelands just beyond our garden to see if we could find him. But we never saw him again nor did he ever visit Ava's grave just half a mile north from our backyard. That small patch of grass thick with bamboo amidst the pale dead desert. Perhaps he too was gone now, as she was, as was the world.

We spent evenings on the porch, watching the sun set, wondering if there was anyone out there and if we should go and look again. But we had everything we needed here, and each other. And soon, another child. And another.

When Tyr was 5 and Freya was 2, I picked up a book from Ava's shelf to read to them. It was simply titled, "Scandinavian Folktales".

A picture of Fenrir was on the inside cover, along with the inscription, "Monstrous Wolf Destined To Devour The World."