The White Wolf
Pete kneeled down in front of the tombstone of his late wife Helena. He stared at the markings carved into the thick stone.
“Helena, I miss you so much,” he said with tears running down his cheeks.
Helena had died ten years ago from cancer. He had been with her at Rush Hospital in Chicago holding her hand until the very end. Every day since her funeral, he was at her grave sitting and talking to her tombstone for several hours. He would then go to all the places that his wife and he frequented on a daily basis and talked to all the employees that had been working there back when she was still alive. She would grocery shop every day, never buying food to stock up in the house — a tradition he still followed to this day. He felt a few raindrops land on his balding brown hair. The sun was no longer visible in the sky, blanketed by the thick storm clouds.
“Helena, I will see you again tomorrow. I love you,” he said and stood up.
The rain was pouring and his clothes were getting soaked. He stared at the tombstone for a couple more minutes and walked toward his white 2013 Dodge Ram pickup truck. He heard a loud howling from behind. He turned around and a large, white wolf was standing not more than fifty feet away from him. It stared at him. It was the most beautiful animal he had ever seen. He stood frozen in fear. He had never seen a wolf up close before. Wolves were not an animal someone would expect to see in Valparaiso, Indiana. There were plenty of deer everywhere, but not wolves. He stood still hoping the wolf would lose interest in him and walk away. It kept staring at him for several minutes while the rain poured. Finally, the wolf turned around and walked away toward the other side of the cemetery. He felt a sigh of relief as he watched it disappear behind the bushes behind a large grouping of tombstones. He reached his truck and drove away toward Walmart across the street from the cemetery.
That night he dreamed about the day he had first met Helena. He had stopped at a coffee shop in downtown Valparaiso. She had been the waitress, never letting his cup of coffee run low. She had curly, sandy blonde hair back in those days. She was so beautiful that he had no choice but to spark a conversation with her. He had stopped by the coffee shop every day for the next week before he had built up enough courage to ask her out. She had said yes. On their first date they had seen The Empire Strikes Back at the General Cinema. The theater was long gone, torn down several years back.
The image of Helena disappeared, and he was back at the cemetery looking at her tombstone. He heard the howling from the white wolf. He turned around and it was standing next to him. It bit his left pants leg and dragged him away from the tombstone.
Pete snapped awake. He looked at his clock, and it was only three in the morning. He was covered in sweat. He slowly climbed out of bed and walked into the kitchen for a glass of water. He sat down at the kitchen table and grabbed the photo album of his honeymoon vacation in Paris. Helena had worn a red dress that she had found at a boutique in Paris. She had looked so beautiful in that dress. He grabbed the French bread that he had purchased at the grocery store the night before and cut himself a small slice. He sat there for the next couple of hours going through all of his photo albums while finishing off the rest of the French bread.
Later on after taking a small nap, he drove downtown to the local bakery and bought himself a couple of donuts. He sat at one of the tables all alone drinking a cup of coffee. He didn’t really have anybody in his life since his wife died. His son lived in Tennessee, and they rarely spoke to one another. He read the Post Tribune while finishing off the donuts. From there he drove to the cemetery where he would spend the next several hours visiting Helena’s grave.
The day was pleasant. There was no storms in the forecast. He kept a watchful eye out for the white wolf. He hoped that he had just imagined the whole encounter the night before. He wasn’t going to let a wild animal get in the way of visiting his wife. He placed a red rose on her grave and sat down and talked to her grave for a couple of hours. As he was standing up to head to his truck, he spotted the white wolf sitting across from him watching him. It looked up at him and then laid its head down on the ground. Deep down, he had a gut feeling that the white wolf wasn’t a threat to him.
“Hello,” he said and waived at the wolf. It lifted its head up for a few seconds. It stood up and walked away toward the back of the cemetery. He walked to his truck and drove to Walmart.
“Hey, Pete,” the door greeter at Walmart said.
“Can’t complain. I’m glad it didn’t rain today. I got soaked yesterday.”
“According to the Weather Channel, it’s going to be a sunny weekend.”
“The perfect weather for me,” Pete said. “Enjoy your night.”
He walked away from Ralph and headed for the magazines at the back of the store. He glanced through all of the latest ones. As he was about to walk away from the magazine section, he spotted one with a white wolf on the cover. Out of curiosity, he grabbed it. It was filled with information about wolves, and how they were popular with the Native American culture. After reading through several pages, he decided to purchase it. He headed for the bakery. He needed another loaf of French bread to replace the one he finished off that morning.
That night he dreamed he was in the cemetery. His wife was standing before him with the white wolf standing by her side. She didn’t speak. She just smiled at him. She extended her right arm and pointed to the other side of the cemetery where the white wolf kept disappearing to.
“What is in that direction?” He asked.
She didn’t speak and then she disappeared. The white wolf walked to the back of the cemetery and disappeared as well. He walked in that direction. Before he walked the path leading to the back of the cemetery, he was awoken by the sounds of his alarm clock. He stared at the clock in disbelief. It was six a.m. He shut the alarm off and headed for the kitchen to brew himself a cup of coffee. After reading the morning paper, he walked into the garage and stared at all of the boxes of his wife’s belongings. He grabbed the box marked jewelry and opened it. Inside was his wife’s favorite charm bracelet that she had bought when they were vacationing in Florida. He lifted it up and the large charm on the bottom was of a white wolf. He grabbed the bracelet. He was going to take it to the cemetery today and bury it in the grass near the tombstone. It was her favorite, and it belonged with her.
After stopping by the bakery to eat a couple of donuts, he headed for the cemetery. He walked over to Helena’s grave carrying a small shovel. He kneeled down next to the grave and dug a small hole. He pulled the bracelet out of his pocket and looked at it one last time. As he let go of the bracelet, sending it to its new resting place, the white wolf slid by him and grabbed it before it landed in the hole.
“No, that is not yours! That is Helena’s!” he screamed at the white wolf. He grabbed the bracelet and tried to jerk it out of its mouth. It jerked its head causing Pete to lose his grip on it. It turned around and ran toward the back of the cemetery. Pete angrily chased after it.
It continued to run with Pete in pursuit. It ran to a cross-shaped tombstone and vanished. The bracelet landed on the ground. Pete stopped and stared at the cross-shaped tombstone.
“Excuse me sir. Is this your bracelet?” a short women with reddish hair asked.
“Yes, it was my wife’s. I was visiting her grave when an animal ran off with it.”
“Yes, I’ve seen you here every day for the past year when I’d come to visit my late husband’s grave. My name’s Laureen.”
“My name’s Pete. Nice to make your acquaintance.”
“I can use some company. It’s very lonely here by myself,” Laureen said.
Pete sat next to her and they talked for hours. Behind them, in the distance, Helena stood next to the white wolf smiling. Her husband had finally met the one he was going to spend the rest of his life with — his new soul mate.