I saw the wolf again last night, just before dark. He sat on a mound of blown snow buttressing the old fence in the back yard. His fur, stippled with purple like the sky and the snow. I looked out my study window and there he was, looking right at me.
My husband says, must be a fox. There are no wolves here.
But I hear him howl at night.
Dogs howl, he says. Lots of animals howl. There are mountain lions around here.
I don’t think mountain lions howl.
The best photo I get is like those pictures of Bigfoot. Blurry and out of focus like maybe it’s a man in a Bigfoot costume or someone in a puffy snowsuit just minding his own business until he finds himself on the cover of the Weekly World News.
I don’t want anyone to think I’m hallucinating. I don’t want my wolf to be a symptom. I don’t want anyone to say, you should have your head examined.
They had to give Jake a sedative before rolling him into the MRI machine when he was three. When I brought him home and got him out of his carseat his legs buckled and he fell hard onto the driveway and a woman walking her dog came running and the dog licked his face.
My husband tells happier stories about him.
Remember? he asks.
I do not remember. I do not.
Maybe my wolf is a fiction or a metaphor or my spirit animal. Once I listened to a guided meditation on You Tube where you were promised an encounter with your spirit animal, but I only saw my own fluff ball, Rory, standing on a cliff for some reason.
Dogs are descended from wolves, I told myself.
I want to be a wolf so I can howl.
I stop telling my husband about the wolf and he stops telling me stories about Jake. When I dream of Jake he is a toddler dressed as a monster. A wild thing. He is not the nineteen-year-old with the blinding smile who is already going bald. The brain is sometimes merciful. If I dream about my boy as a nineteen-year-old I will know, even in the dream, that we are near the end of this story.