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The Picture In My Head

Alone with the great sky of water

I write to pictures. Sometimes I browse Flickr for ideas. Sometimes it’s a picture I see with my eyes shut. This is what I see right now:

A perfect blend of shadow and light rendered the snow leopard invisible as he crept sleek and silent through frosted woods. Where woods broke away to a ball field, he broke into a run, sending powdery snow up in plumes, his lean belly skimming just a feather’s breadth above the ground. Wind ruffled his fur, sang in his ears.

The forest thickened on the other side, but it was like welcoming arms closing around him, inviting a companion. He craved the comfort of a mate’s body, feminine heat and a welcoming purr. He had to settle for the feathery fingers of a fir tree sliding over his back, the cold kiss of snow on his nose and lashes.

There could never be a mate for him, no female to race under the stars at his side. He ran from his solitude, from the unique combination of gifts that set him above and apart from his own kind. Even among the males, ritual protocols of respect kept him isolated, friendless.

Closer to the water he burst through the skeletons of blackberry vines weaving themselves like an impenetrable fence. Thorns raked his fur and pricked his skin—sent the thought of a female’s claws and teeth, the feral abandon of mating, skimming through his mind. He ran faster, as if he could outrun fate.

Solitude was a life sentence no one could change.

He splashed into the ice fringed creek and ran downstream, letting nature’s version of a cold shower numb his hunger. As the stream bed curved sharply and opened on a woodland pool, he slowed. Something faint, desperate, nudged his attention away from himself and opened his mind to the soft stirrings and secretive rustles of life around him.

At the edge of the pool he paused, drawing cold air deep into his lungs, savoring the rush of energy that came with anticipation, using it like a drug to shove cravings that threatened to shred him into the background. His keen hearing tuned to the sound of thousands of tiny flakes touching the earth, the combined voices amplified, shifting pitch to impart a whispered warning–loud enough to prick his awareness, too soft to interpret.

From my WIP, sequel to the Tiger’s Tale by Nara Malone

I’m deep in this shapeshifter project getting it ready for submission and I can’t get my mind to go anywhere else. I’m even dreaming in revisions. This post was written in response to this week’s Carry On Tuesday prompt. Click here to see what others have written or to join the fun yourself.


  • gsb3

    This is a great story that really pulls one in from the start. I enjoyed running along with the snow leapord, wondering what he'd do next. The feelings portrayed were wonderful, a allowed for another layer that one might not expect in a story about an animal. Your words helped him to truly come alive for me, and I loved every minute. Great writing!

  • Mike Patrick

    This is very well done, kind of Jack Londonish using a snow leopard instead of a dog. The descriptive phrases are wonderful. Few have the talent to transport one into a scene. You do.

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