I went to the Wellspring and couldn’t hold my shape at all. I lifted my hands in supplication and they melted away.
“Why have you stayed away?” she asked.
I didn’t know. Sometimes I lose the way. Sometimes it seems impossible. I didn’t know. I had been away a long long time.
Bear came but wasn’t interested in going anywhere. He lumbered onto his side and rested himself on the ground. “Too late to begin anything now,” he said.
I didn’t know what I meant to do, but knew I must do something.
I took up my coil of black braid rope, attached one end to a tree, the other to me, and I lowered myself down into a fissure in the ground. Down down down into the dark. And there I found Night Hawk, wounded and alone. I took his body onto mine. I cradled him, wrapped myself around him. I rested my hands on the place where the blood was running out. I didn’t know what else to do. I gave him water. A slice of apple. A bit of cookie. I held him and rocked. I set small balls of luminance above us in the dark.
After a time I heard a calling and carried him down and again further down to a lake within the stone. I set him adrift on a small disk of a craft. I had to let him go. He drifted out into the darkness and dissolved.
Frantic at the loss, I collected a skin of water from the lake and carried it up to the surface. I poured it out onto the ground and Night Hawk bloomed from that spot. All of his beauty lived in his skin again. He grinned at me and touched my cheek and wrapped me up close to the beauty heart of himself.
“Don’t leave me,” I cried into his chest. “Don’t leave me.”
He crooned my name and rocked me as if it wasn’t me who’d done all the leaving.