I was no longer alone. No matter how long it took Phil to return to the cabin, I knew he would be back. In between visits, on days when I had excessive energy, I would explore the forest of my childhood. Stalking through the trees, I’d watch birds flutter as they chirped their songs, the grounded animals skitter away at the sound of my footsteps. It was a game for a long time. How long would it take this animal or that to hear me creep up behind them? Their reactions used to send me into hysterics. The “I’ve been caught!” moment of terror followed immediately by “Run! Run for your life, fool!” Only once did a tiny critter collapse. Waiting a few minutes to see if the creature would wake up and run away, I held my breath. When he didn’t move, I picked him up so he could be buried in an appropriate place. I’d never felt so bad, and I cried as I dug the tiny grave. When the hole was deep enough, I turned just in time to see the damn thing roll over on its legs and trot away from view into the woods.
On days when I felt a little lazy I’d read the latest books Phil had left for me. My favorite author is Charles Dickens. His books take me a long time to read, and are always filled with so much dread. But I must say they are well worth it when you get to the end. Hopefully he is well liked by human kind as well. I save the science fiction and theory magazines for the days when my spirit is low. Phil brings them by the box full. Those magazines are what gave me the idea to coin the name ‘Gorilla-Men’ for my species; purely comical. Not to brag, but Gorilla-men are featured in almost all of them. The stories you humans come up with are hilarious! One man swore he witnessed a Gorilla-man with the head of a horse-ape hybrid. And apparently we smell horrible. I chose to be amused instead of offended. I have never in my existence come in contact with any other human other than Phil, who had warned me greatly against it. And as far as I am concerned, there are no more of my kind left. But it is charming how humans use their imagination. I admire it, truly.
When his children had grown up and his wife was content, Phil dedicated his time to search for more of my kind, which accounted for the longer absences. I never asked him to, he just volunteered. Convinced it was a dead end, I tried to talk him out of it. The idea that I not be alone was important to him, especially later in his life. I suspect he knew about his cancer earlier than when he shared the woeful news with me. Phil searched as many forests as he could, with no results, before the day he told me he couldn’t come back. By this time I was a fully grown gorilla-man at seven feet tall, but that didn’t stop either of us from crying. No more of my own kind, and the memory of a very skinny shadow of the man I knew as Phil. I was about to be alone again.