Time was you could walk the whole twenty miles into town without seeing another person.
You and the wolves, whistling through the dark.
Time was you might catch a glimpse through underbrush, just a flash of tapetum, gold tease or red, and know you weren’t alone. Jingle of coin in your pocket warmth against the night, more company than company.
Time was you’d shiver your teeth loose when winter fought its hard way through the cracks in the walls, cough yourself bloody from the drip drip drip of nine months of rain. Mold on every solid surface, green fuzz and grey, bloomed up where your hand fell.
Time was you’d be high in the hills, alone and free. Time was you could swallow your tongue in peace, hoard dreams of gold and riches, miser your way into some kind of heaven. Time was you could stalk in peace unknown feet ranging through your woods. Your woods.
Time was you called yourself real.