IIt was New Years Eve and we were in an unheated stone cabin. Adam and I hit it off at a silent meditation retreat in Minneapolis, and I invited him to spend Christmas vacation with me in India. At the time, ringing in 2018 in a small village framed by the granite formations and snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas seemed like a fairy tale. But that night the mercury fell so low that my vital organs mumbled “system failure” and shut down. I buried myself under duvets with cotton padding at concrete level.
“It’s seven o’clock,” Adam protested.
I molded my frozen lips into a passable version of “good night” and passed out.
I woke up strangely disoriented, as if I had slept for a hundred years. “Adam?” I said. No answer. I felt myself along the bed. No Adam. For a second, I panicked. Did I really shoot a Sleeping Beauty? How long had I been out? I fumbled for my phone. It was 11:20 p.m.
“Where are you?” I texted. I stuck my head through the door of the hut. “Adam?” I called during the night. Prayer flags flapped in the wind. I rang her phone, feeling desperate. No answer. My red-haired prince charming was seriously MIA. Was he walking? I had warned him about stray dogs here – docile by day, wild by night. A week ago, I saw men wash the blood off the road where the beasts had attacked a tourist. Last year a friend was bitten in the calf. Was Adam somewhere in an alley, rabid dogs feeding on his face? Did I need to go and rescue him?
I really don’t want to do this, I thought as I pulled on my coat, grabbed a stick and opened the door. You better die. I started a slow side slope down the hill, my heart pounding in my ears, my eyes darting side to side for murderous dogs. To my relief, I didn’t see any. Maybe they were celebrating New Years Eve. Or maybe they were busy celebrating… on Adam.
I shook the image of my head, picked up the pace, and kept walking. Just then, a low growl echoed through my back. I turned. Six yellow eyes shone a few feet away. I froze. Stupid, stupid, I thought. Now I also make dog chowder. Tentatively, I waved the stick at them. They growled louder. If they were to throw themselves at me, I thought, I would just spin my staff like a crouching Tiger and send them flying. Uh, who was I kidding? The blood they would clean from the sidewalk would be 100% mine. Wasn’t the prince supposed to save the princess? Why was I alone in front of the hounds of hell?
The phone rang. It was Adam.
“Hey honey,” he wrote. ” I am at the cafe. They are having a New Years party!
“You what?” I screamed. “You are a reckless fool! The dogs backed away. “I thought you were dead!” The dogs turned and fled.
“He’s going to wish he had met the dogs instead,” I muttered as I walked down the road.
I entered the cafe, which shone by candlelight. People were laughing and chatting around a long table, decorated with juniper branches and plates of chocolate cake. The smells of cider and champagne warmed the room.
Adam looked up, his face flushed. “Hey, baby, you came over,” he said.
“Don’t talk to me,” I said, throwing myself into a chair. “I hate you more than life itself.”
“But why?” He laughed, putting molten lava cake in my mouth. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
“Do you know the concept of leaving a note? I stared at him.
Already, however, my anger was diminishing. I was getting hotter. There was chocolate. I was not missing any limbs. And I had been brave enough, all things considered.
The countdown has begun. “Good year!” we shouted. Bongs filled the air as we pulled crackers, and streamers flew everywhere. The dogs outside were howling.
– To Prince Charming, I toasted.
As Adam’s eyes lit up, I decided not to spoil the moment by telling him that I meant me. And, while this fairytale romance didn’t make it past spring, I was eternally grateful to realize that I didn’t need a white knight to kill my dragons.