A short story
The brown bear looks at me and I ask myself: is that me? It has a tiny cub next to it. They are standing twenty feet in front of me, the cub holding on to the big bear's left foot, eyeing me curiously. The forest around us is silent. Small wafts of fog drift among the trees. The forest floor is soaking wet. Thoughts nag for my attention. How does a bear get into a German forest? I was on a short walk, the edge of the wood and my village three minutes away. The Förster, the forest official, rules every square inch here. But there is no time to think. The bears and I stand perfectly still and look at each other. Except for a bit of wind, there is no sound.
We remain this way for a very long time. I do not dare move, but I am not afraid. There is no sense of threat from the giant creature; it just is there, occasionally making a sound like it's snorting. Suddenly, the bear drops back on its four feet; it turns around and begins to move away from me, towards the underbrush. The cub is knocked over in the process and clumsily starts following its parent. Before they disappear in the shadows, they stop and take a last look back at me. Then they're gone. It is perfectly silent. The fog absorbs all sound. Eventually I walk on, like in a dream.
In the following weeks, I try to find them again in every spare minute I have. I go on long walks through the woods, looking for any kind of sign. I look at maps, and read long texts about bears' habits, trying to figure out where they might be hiding. I do not dare talk to the authorities, for I fear they might start a hunt. I scan newspapers far and wide for any reports of bear sightings, dead chickens, anything unusual. But I find nothing.