They sit around the fire enjoying each other. Laughing, teasing, savoring the warmth and light of the blaze and the communion. They taste the joy of life.
Out in the darkness beyond the glow of the flames, out among the flickering shadows another creature moves. Occasionally the flickering flames illuminate it for fleeting seconds as it drifts like a shadow through the trees.
Out there in the cold, lonely and mysterious dark, walks a solitary creature. Yet it didn't choose it so. Fate has branded it an outcast.
It circles silently through the dark. Unidentifiable, unheard... its longings unspoken... alone.
Infrequently, it hesitantly steps in closer; drawn by the sound of life and those that are not alone. Those echoes from the fire touch something deep inside its soul that pulls it toward that light. But, as always, one of those around the blaze will notice the strangers approach as it moves just inside the fringe of light. They will notice and fire a warning shot.
A pack of yapping dogs will come rushing out to chase...
Sure, the creature could easily put a couple of the yappers on the ground. That would send the others running with their tails tucked... but a fight is not what it was seeking. Its life has been nothing but fight. It longs to be part of that unknown camaraderie around the fire. To be a part of and not always stand defensive, with its back to a wall.
It was an end to that solitary existence it sought, an end to the lonesome... that it approached... not a fight.
But as the vulture was created to soar alone, living on the fringes and on the leavings of the world, the hollow void of loneliness in its heart... so this creature also is destined to remain; out in the dark, solo... wishing for the warmth of the fire yet knowing only the dusky cold light of the fringe. Alone.
It stops for a few seconds gazing back, a look of longing in its eyes, then steps out of the circle of light and vanishes into the surrounding darkness.
Grab Your Handles and Ride