He’d been gone awhile.

Assuming he was a he, of course.

He usually spent most of the day posted up on a rock bordering the pond. He didn’t pay the horses any mind, but if Emma and I got too close, he’d slide into the water to wait until the coast was clear.

I’d seen a coyote down by that rock just before he went missing, casing the perimeter of the pond.

Circle of life, right?

I’d chased the coyote off, willing to interrupt that particular circle and valiantly protect the vulnerable from the predatory.

We humans think we’re the sun in the middle of a circling ecosystem.

The coyote would be back, though.

Turns out, shortly after my meddling.

This afternoon I stepped outside to see an out-of-place oblong shape by the mares’ loafing shed, moving slowly toward the pond.

Did the coyote not find him delectable? Or not taken him at all? If not, how had he gotten so far away from what protected him, what fed him, the source of his existence and his only hope for survival?

Unless leaving was part of his story.

A story that has been unfolding for millennia. 

He stepped on his reptilian gas when he sensed me hurrying behind him, trying to be the protector he didn’t need.

And slid into the water, to wait until the coast was clear. 

I walked back up to the house, and could’ve sworn I heard a murmur bubbling up from the pond behind me.

Silly humans.

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