Mumma Bear had no energy left. There was no more fight in her, not like there had been the week before, the month before, the year before that. She was tired and she would fight no more.
“It is not my battle,” she said, her face hard like flint.
“It used to be,” they murmured.
“Mayhap. But no longer.” Before her lay the ruins of her hands - and her heart. There was nothing left but a cold wind that whistled through the brokenness and was gone. “I cannot carry on.”
They left her then, alone in the emptiness of her soul. All she could see was what could have been, but was not. The cubs she had been fighting for - were they ever hers? No, but she had taken them in anyway, because her heart had been big enough then, large enough, strong enough, for her dreams had sustained her.
No more. She was empty now, and she had to look elsewhere for filling.
“Why did I trust you?” she asked the wind. “You were warm then, kind. It seemed like you would lead us somewhere, somewhere safe. You danced before us, offering us hope, as if you could bring us through. And then you left. Not remembering your promise.” She sighed, looking up at the sky. “But you did not promise. You never did. I just thought you had.”
She stood to her feet, great lumbering useless feet, stared at her clumsy claws. She sheathed them, her great Mumma claws, knowing for certain now that they were blunt - had always been blunt. Mumma Bear adjusted her skirts and then she was just a girl again; a young, tired girl with lightless eyes.
She picked up the pack she’d prepared, something to tide her over until her next stop. “Well, that’s it then. It’s time to move on.”
Still, she couldn’t help but linger a little while, trying to hold on to her passion a little longer. “You and I, we would have changed the world,” she said a trifle bitterly to no one in particular. “Except that you would not lead so I could not follow.”
The ruins were silent except for the occasional rattling of a stone from under her feet or the snapping of a twig as she stumbled along the path. Once in a while, she thought she heard the bleating of a sheep, and her heart quickened, but just as swiftly, the cold wind blew, and her face stiffened again.
When she reached the end of the valley, she turned back to face it. “It is just as well, you see. I was never meant to be Mumma Bear. You will have to find someone else to be that for you. Someone you can’t con.... or maybe I mean someone that you can.” She shook her head. “But now this means I am free - free to look ahead to where my dreams take me. Where my heart can be one again.”