Lurem is barely breathing. Her breathing is segmented. One quick out-breath, then a long pause, then another quick out-breath. It is as if she isn’t breathing anything in. She’s just releasing whatever darkness is inside her.
I lay down next to her under the stars. Laki Dika said it will help her. “The light from the forefathers will restore her spirit,” he said. And so I brought her here in the middle of the wide Laoac na Ansisit. I carried her here with my own bare shoulders even if she was twice my size, a large young lobo who was once filled with endless vigor.
Now, she barely responds to anything. She only wags her tail whenever I call her name. “Lurem, Lurem, my love. Get better soon. There are lots of usa to hunt!” She wags her tail upon hearing her name and for a moment I feel her spirit jump. But then she goes back to that deep dark abyss that I can’t seem to fathom.
I feel like she knows she’s done and she won’t be able to hunt usa again.
The enemy that did this to her was invisible. Even my father, an albularyo na lobo, can’t identify the evil spirit or whatnot that caused her this sickness. “Just bring her to the waters. Let her drink. She needs to drink a lot. It might save her. There’s nothing more we can do if we don’t know who we’re fighting with,” my father said.
We don’t know who the enemy is. But we do know that something like this was inevitable to happen. Lurem was an entirely different creature, so different from all the other lobos of Caboloan. She jumps higher and runs faster than everyone else. When she was born, she immediately stood up on her toes and walked as if she was already walking inside her mother’s womb. She was strong and always happy. But most fascinating of all, she was so curious—excessively curious.
She would leave the baley sometimes, without me, even for days. At first I was worried that she won’t come back. But she always does. And every time she returns, she would appear with an unusual object, dead animal, or fruit between her large sharp teeth. “She has gone into the Kabilungetan,” my mother would say in her distressed voice. “That lobo is so hard-headed!”
The Kabilungetan is a forbidden place, a place visible from the highest peak of Palandey Pugaro. You can see it on the horizon, surrounded by charcoal black soil, dead trees, and rotten prey under heavy, dark clouds that don’t stop looming above it. Many stories about this place haunted my dreams when I was a boy. Everyone was afraid to venture into this frightful of places. But not Lurem. Lurem was different from everyone, both lobo and tao.
Even Kabilungetan was her playground.
I do not know if there’s anything we could have done to contain such curiosity, such energy, such wildness, such true nature, such life. If it was fate that brought us a lobo who was this spirited to find her demise too soon, what could we have done to oppose fate? No spell could contain Lurem’s energy. She was a free spirit and she followed the fire within her wherever it brought her, no matter the consequences.
As I lay down right next to her, there under the star-filled sky of the forefathers, I continued listening to the segmented breathing of my young friend. I rested on the calm, serene wave of her spirit, which I have often longed for. I never thought that I would pay a high price to have Lurem be as quiet and calm as a lonely feather.
I touched her fur for the last time. Then I raised my hand and placed it over my heart. I resolved that I will not blame myself for not doing enough to prevent what happened to Lurem. I closed my eyes instead and breathed myself, slowly, segmented, so that I may fall asleep, hoping that there, in my sleep, I might see clearly the truth that freedom for each and every creature—tao, lobo, ayep, tanaman—is worth everything, is worth every single pint of life.