Coming home to the alien landscape, she had no idea why the white woman from the Northeast Corridor was called to the Black Hills of South Dakota. A narrative yet unspoken.

Her life, seemingly domesticated,
defined by roles- mother, daughter, wife.

Tears flowed as the sun set across the Badlands, igniting the landscape’s hued history. The enormity and vastness, barren and pregnant with life precipiced.

Like the bleached prairie grass, she soaked in the sun’s imperceptible catalyst. Green, and then, golden.

At fifty, this was her first trip without the crutch of family, and she resented the clichéd crisis. But here, unconstrained by their wants and compromises, the wild demanded to be unleashed and unbound – if only temporarily.

The twilight enveloped them as they returned toward Custer, a town more like a Hollywood movie set, complete with signage declaring itself in the Hills, as if it was afraid that it might forget who it was. And yet, it had already forgotten; only a facsimile of its former, defiant self.

Down the long stretch of interstate past Wall, the Dakota darkness consumed all, until the lights of Rapid City declared a small and fleeting victory over the Milky Way.

They navigated along the Needles’ twisting, unnatural swath of asphalt. Guiding the wayward travelers, brazen with their reflective yellow, proclaiming their dominance; no shoulder to cry upon, disorienting in the darkness; only trees and stars.

That’s where they found him: the beau sabreur bison. Prehistoric and preternatural.

Driving slowly past him so as not to perturb the Behemoth, the rogue beast’s whale-eyed, organic gaze conveyed neither concern for her angst, nor his own invisible boundaries. Indifferent to the passengers, and the evening’s chill which foretold of September’s impending slaughter.

Ahead, the lodge’s light beckoned, as she listened to the wiccan coyote calls summoning her own wild buffalo-heart.