The feral girl did not know who her parents were. In fact, for quite a while she did not really know what parents were, at least from a human perspective.
She knew that some animals had parents; she watched the wolf cubs at play with their mum and dad, and with aunts and uncles too. She knew the lives of the birds intimately and observed how the parents reared their chicks, tirelessly bringing them food each and every day. And she knew many other young animals in the forest whose parents were present in their lives. But then there were those animals where parents did not feature; they were simply absent. She watched the butterflies in particular and saw how they learned to fly by themselves with no guidance, and how even in their younger days during their caterpillar state they simply got on with munching the leaves with no one to show them how.
She did not spend much time thinking about parents or wondering if she had ever had any; she simply assumed she was of the butterfly variety where parents did not appear in the picture. She was, she thought, perfectly content with her life. It was hers, it was all she knew, she would not even know what to wish for if asked to consider what other life she might want. She was wild and free and alive, that was enough.
The feral girl lived in the forest, although from there she could roam far and wide so that the valley, river, lake, meadows and mountains could also be called her home. She cared for her world deeply. The animals knew her smell and deemed her friend not foe. Even the plants, especially the trees, held in their sap a knowledge of her gentleness. Of course she had to eat, and would do so freely be that plant or animal. But she did so with care, respect and gratitude. Every being in the forest understood the unwritten laws of life; that for the whole to be maintained, individuals must give up their lives for one another. There was no recrimination in this, no sense of injustice; it was simply as life was. Even the plants who could magically turn the sun’s energy into life-giving nourishment, understood the law and their vital role within it.
So she ate, she slept in whichever burrow, cave or tree she found herself at and she roamed the land, learning all she could from it. She knew all the animals; their habits, their characters, their lives from start to finish. She spent many happy days and evenings playing with the wolf cubs, telling stories to the owls and dancing with the moths. She knew all the plants and their slower more subtle life processes. She would move among them feeling their heartbeat-like pulsing of sap and allowing their quiet rhythms to undulate within her own body.
She felt the forest’s ebb and flow of energy, its uniquely dark and quiet presence, its whisperings of secrets. She talked to the river as it flowed and sparkled along its path, exchanging stories of the world upstream and down. She let the lake hold her, soothe her, and give her its silken, cleansing caress. She leapt for joy in the meadows, allowing the energy of the tall grasses to move her body as if she were a reed of grass herself, and opening herself to the sun and the sky just as the flowers taught her. She was one with the mountains, standing on their proud peaks and allowing herself to be as solid and still as they, her awareness slowing down as she felt their memory stretching back a million years to a time when they were laid flat on the ocean floor.
She breathed as the world breathed, flowed as life flowed and existed at peace with everything around her. Every day was new to her and she would study the clouds and patterns of weather with careful attention and interest. The nights did not scare her, but held her within their mysterious and dark gloved hands, leading her into the dream-world, encouraging her body to rest and renew. Every season was a delight, from the freshness and purity of spring, to the bright joyfulness and abundance of summer, the glow and generosity of autumn, and the sleepy mini-death of winter.
She was content. And maybe she would have remained her whole lifetime in this lonesome, feral existence if her wanderings had not one day brought her to the edge of a tiny village and a big new world of humans…