ANDREW AND LEVANTER
He was wandering throughout the small mountain village, like he was used to in the afternoon hours of a summer day in July. The green mountains surrounding the small village were his home, the small village that has adopted him. They all knew him and many villagers tried to adopt him trying to bring him to their houses or lands, but he, since he was a puppy, always ran away preferring freedom to human’s company. Every once in a while he allowed himself a walk throughout the small village searching for a safe meal or a caress but he used to disappear in the green of the mountains right after. Thanks to his desire for freedom he was called Levanter by the whole village because just like the wind he travelled free and solitary. He was born from a female German Sheppard who ran from a farm while she was in heat and a male wolf. The German Sheppard female named Zara went back to the farm after three days and after a couple of months of gestation she gave birth to four puppies. Three females and a male. The female looked just like their mother, they had a beautiful brown fur and they behaved just like her, docile and faithful to their owner. The male puppy instead looked totally different from his mother and his sisters. He had a thick and shiny black fur and he had a rebel and introverted personality. He never obeyed to neither his mother nor his owner’s commands. He loved to roam and discover new places and he always tried to escape the fenced area built by the owner. One day, when he was old enough to look after himself without the help of his mother, he ran away at night with the help of darkness pointing the mountains which became his new home. The owner looked for him for two straight days and nights without success, the third day he decided to give him freedom and stopped searching for him. He named him Levanter and gave him freedom, since then Levanter roamed the mountains searching for food and visiting the village every once in a while.
That day in July, Levanter was walking throughout the village roads, among the old houses, the small church and the town hall. No one was around, at that hour almost the entire population, mostly formed by old people, hided away in their homes to rest and to find shelter from the summer heat. Levanter continued his walk in the village undisturbed, he reached the playground, where the local children loved to meet to play together under their mothers supervision who enjoyed the moments chatting between them. At that hour the playground was deserted, the heat was too strong but in about three hours the playground would come to life because the weather would cool down so that it would transform the playground in a place of laughter and games. Levanter loved children and once in a while he hid in the bushes to watch them play, but he didn’t like them to see him, he surely loved them, but they had the bad habit of pulling his fur or mounting him trying to ride him while kicking him in the stomach. While he was crossing the playground, towards the shortcut that leaded him directly to the mountains where his lair was located, he passed close to the carousels when he heard a strange whining, a sound he never heard
before. He thought it was a wounded pray so he turned around right away thinking of an easy meal but as soon as he reached the benches next to the carousels in the rear of the playground his hope was swept away from the image of a crying boy sitting alone on a bench. He thought of leaving the boy alone with his destiny but his heart protested. It is true that humans are evil animals, many of them usually go to the mountains to hunt him out and to pollute the nature but the inhabitants of the village were always nice to him and they always respected the mountains and the nature, trying not to pollute them, cleaning the dirt left from others and defending the animals live in the mountains. He tried to give himself courage, remembering all the good deeds that the village people did to save him. He walked towards the boy, he wasn’t good guessing humans age but thanks to the years spent close to them he learned that human lives go through three steps. Step one, it’s when they’re puppies, living constantly close to their mothers. Step two, it’s when they start to grow up and detach from their mothers. Finally step three, it’s when they are adults and begin to live alone, just like he did. By the looks of his body, that boy, had two be in step two because he was no puppy but not an adult also. When Levanter was close to him, the boy rose his head, he was wearing a sky blue shirt, a pair of blue jeans and a pair of white snickers, a very common outfit among boys of his age. What really struck Levanter were those two strange black objects around the boy’s eyes. He never saw other humans wearing those objects and taking a closer look, he realized that he never saw that boy either. While Levanter was studying him, the boy moved his head around a couple of times and stated a sentence that shocked the black wolf.
“Is someone there? I know you’re in front of me, I can hear you, I hear you breathing and I feel the air moving when you move. If you’d introduce yourself I’ll gladly do it too but if you came here to mock me you can leave right now.”
Levanter remained silent for a couple of minutes, astonished from that strange introduction, it seemed like the boy couldn’t even see him although he was right in front of him. He tried to introduce himself anyway.
“Hi, my name is Levanter, the wolfhound that lives outside the village, you don’t recognize me?”
“Yes, I know Levanter, but you’re just another person who’s trying to fool me, dogs can’t speak.”
“You have to believe me, I’m Levanter, if you take those weird objects from your eyes you can see me.”
“They’re called prescription glasses and even if I take them off nothing would change, I’m blind since I was born, I don’t have a very important part of the eyes, the pupils. I wear these glasses so people can be aware of my sight problem.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know, anyway, if you stretch your arm in front of you can touch me and pet my fur.”
The boy stretched his arm and he gently petted Levanter’s back, hips and face. Levanter stood still and let the boy touch him, he understood that the boy learnt to see through his hands. The boy stopped touching him and put a big smile on his face, Levanter was very happy about it, then he stopped crying and continued talking with the wolfhound.
“It’s true, you’re Levanter, people told me about you! This is the first time we actually meet. Sorry about before but it looks like it has become custom to mock people with problems like mine. Anyway, it’s nice to meet you, my name is Andrew, I was born in a town far from here called Lucca, I’m here because I moved to my grandfather’s house. I used to live with my parents but unfortunately they died and I had to come here to live with grandpa.”
“That’s why you were crying?” asked sadly but curiously Levanter
“Yes but not only for that. I was crying because I hear many people saying look how beautiful that or this is but I can’t see anything so I will never know what the word beauty really means. I don’t know what a beautiful object or person looks like. Do you understand? I’ll die without appreciating beautiful things because no one ever thought or showed me how to see them my way. Even my grandpa, who loves me dearly, every time I try to ask him something he always says that he’s busy and that he doesn’t have time for me.” He finished the sentence and he started to cry again. Levanter decided that he had to do something for that boy, he already had an idea on his mind.
“Don’t worry Andrew, I will help you to understand what beauty means. Do you trust me?”
“Yes, I feel I can trust you. But how are you going to show me beauty?” asked Andrew curiously. (He stopped crying and started to smile again.)
“Don’t worry, come with me and we’ll have fun.”
Andrew, confident, put himself at Levanter’s side and with a hand touching his back followed him slowly, a step at the time. They took the path behind the park and walking along the mountain side they left the village. Andrew started to breath new scents, he felt the lighter air, he wanted to ask Levanter where they were headed, curiosity was devouring him but he didn’t ask the wolfhound anything. He loved surprises.
“Andrew, beauty is nothing more than a world full of different shades and flavors. There are many different kinds of beauty, I will show you some of them that you’ll be able to appreciate and that you cannot see. The first one is located not far from here.”
They descended the path, they passed a mountain and advanced towards a small valley full of vegetation and scented flowers. They stopped walking and Andrew, while he sat on the grass to smell the flowers, asked Levanter where they were. The wolfhound curled up next to him and described the valley surrounding them.
“We’re in a small valley close to the village. Around us there are the big mountains with the eternal snow on their tops. Here, where we are sitting, there’s a huge green lawn with many flowers made of thousand different colors and wonderful scents. Many animals come here to graze. Hares, chamois and sheep. Do you hear this strange call?”
Andrew instinctively raised his head towards the direction where the strange call was coming from.
“Yes I hear it! What is it?”
“It’s an eagle flying above us.”
Andrew couldn’t believe his senses, what he was hearing, the scents he was detecting and what his hands were touching. He was starting to know the many faces of beauty.
“I don’t know how to thank you Levanter, thanks to you I’m understanding what beauty is!”
“Don’t thank me, we’re not done yet. Come, I’ll bring you to an even better place.”
They got there, after a few minutes of walking, on the shores of a small stream coming from a mountain and going down the valley through the mountain crest, forming a small waterfall. Andrew heard the sound of the water going down from the crests and curiously asked Levanter what was in front of them and where did he bring him this time.
“There’s a small stream in front of us that coming down from the mountain creates a spectacular waterfall.”
“So what I’m hearing is water that coming down hits the mountain?”
“It’s fantastic! Can I get close to it and touch the water?”
“Of course, I’ll guide you. Lean forward, there’s the stream where you can immerse your hands and drink if you’re thirsty. This water is pure.”
Andrew followed Levanter’s instructions and drank. He tasted the water’s sweet flavor and washed his face. Levanter drank too, then he guided Andrew towards the grass. They sat and rested for a couple of minutes.
“Levanter, are there other beautiful things like these that I can see too?”
“Of course! Come with me.” The stood up and the wolfhound led Andrew towards an apple tree.
“This is a fruit tree, if you raise your arms you’ll find its branches and hanging on them you’ll find its round shaped fruits. Take one and taste it. This is a thing that it’s not only beautiful but also good.”
Andrew took one and tasted it, he immediately recognized its flavor, he already ate it when he was living with his parents.
“I know what these are, they’re called apples, my mom always made me eat them but they weren’t as good as these ones.” They both laughed.
“It’s getting late Andrew, we have to go back to the village or your grandfather will be worried.”
“You’re right, he should be back home from his farmland by now and if he won’t find me he’ll worry.”
They took the path that leads to the village walking side by side. They reached the playground where they met, there were children playing. Andrew was called by a lady he knew, she lived in the house next to his grandfather’s. He recognized her voice and called her by her name heading towards her.
“Barbara, how are you?”
“Andrew, what are you doing here? Your grandfather is very worried, come, I’ll take you home.”
“Wait a moment please, I have to say goodbye to Levanter.”
“Levanter? The wolfhound?”
“That’s right! He took me for a walk and showed me many beautiful things.”
“Andrew, there’s no one there. Levanter died years ago. My husband found his body and buried him under an apple tree in a valley not too far from here.”
“How’s that possible? I petted him and I walked with him all day long!”
“You must have imagined it and wandered alone. How many times we must tell you not to go wandering around on your own? Even if you have your walking stick you still don’t know the surroundings and you could get lost easily. Come, I’ll take you home.”
Andrew, still incredulous, tried to grab Barbara’s hand but found her belly instead. He touched it and felt a small beat coming from inside. Caught off guard he pulled back his hand.
“Barbara, what’s in your tummy?” I felt something!”
“I’m pregnant Andrew. He just moved and kicked.”
“Can I touch it again?” Asked Andrew timidly fascinated from the discovery he just made.
“Of course you can but gently please.”
Andrew stretched his hand towards Barbara’s belly and felt the child moving inside of it.
“It’s a beautiful thing isn’t it?”
“Of course it is Andrew, it’s the most beautiful thing in the world.”
Andrew grabbed Barbara’s hand, he turned towards the bushes where he met Levanter, he couldn’t see him but he knew that the wolfhound was there, he was there to protect all the villagers who were nice to him when he was alive. He waved his hand at him, sure that he would have greet back and that they would see each other again for another excursion.