Alone. That's where I am; existing more in the galaxy of Alone-ness than on this moist grass, dangling my legs over a bazillion-foot cliff, which is also, more literally speaking, where I am.

There's something frightening—and peaceful at the same time—about watching the rain forever in combat with the angry silken wind, the endlessness of open sky, all living above my head, the smeared cotton clouds below my precariously dangling feet. There's something that speaks to me in the shock of silence. Maybe it's the fissures of bright white lightening, exploding wherever it finds release.

Alone. Silence is not an absence of sound, as I have previously supposed; it is a release of hidden thoughts into the mind, voices that remind me this is who I am, stripped of the people who created my identity. I laugh at the irony of when I escape their voices, I hear new ones; the whispers in the wind, the murmur of another presence near. It forces me to realize I could not live completely alone. A living hell is what it would be, a hell full of questions never answered.

Yet, even as I realize how much my existence depends on that of others, I face the inevitable recognition: I am still alive. And alone. With only the company of a hand, a great hand that wrings a soaked cottony white towel over the city.

Somewhere beyond the windings of my inner discourse, I hear a squelching of grass a few feet behind me. Momentary alertness makes me stiffen in recognition of the sound a shoe makes when it encounters the supple crunch of vegetation. Why would someone else be on the mountain? I know for a fact that it's been closed for a week in lieu of the incoming hurricane. I flatten instantly, hating that I don't know if the person can see me.

After a few painfully humiliating seconds, I force myself to shift into a position more becoming of a human, less of a reptile. Turning around to survey the intruder, I catch a bare glimpse of what I initially assume to be a large black and white rabbit. Then, of course logic prevails over my asinine assumptions when it becomes apparent that the ears are shorter than that of any self-respecting rabbit, and, despite the odd hopping pattern that this animal has adopted, it is still the motion of a puppy dog—to my defense, a very small one. One easily mistaken for a rabbit.

I am immediately noticed by the puppy, a tiny Border collie who looks up at me with huge brown eyes. Its movements are clumsy and vulnerable, filled with a blissfully ignorant courage, so new to life. I reach out my hand for possible sniffing, an invitation for it to come to me, to trust me. It looks back to the long grass surrounding it, disinterested in my hand.

Suddenly I register that there is a falcon in the sky directly above me, turning and turning in the widening gyre. I laugh inside as the William Butler Yeats poem drops into my thoughts, as if out of nowhere. The falcon cannot hear the falconer; /Things fall apart; the center cannot hold/Mere anarchy is loosed—

My thoughts are cut short by the recognition that the falcon—or is it a hawk? maybe an eagle?—in the sky now turns in a narrowing gyre. I look at the puppy, then back at the large predatory bird, and finally back at the puppy, wondering if it is in danger. Would the bird eat a defenseless, adorable little puppy? Even as I mentally ask the question, the answer it drags on its heels is scornfully obvious, and I quickly reach out to scoop the tiny, fragile animal in my arms. Exactly when it is secured in my grasp, my peripheral vision catches sight of the falcon beginning a swift descent, wings clasped tight as it dives toward me.

And the dive continues.

Uh oh. This is not so good. Why is he still going at it? Does he not realize that I am the larger animal? That hitting me would be the equivalent of hitting something like unto an immovable stone wall?

His dive continues, and I clench the puppy closer to my chest, beginning to doubt my immobility. In all my years putting up with my little sister's Animal Planet fascination, I've never heard of a falcon snatching its prey out of the arms of a live human being, but here, in this moment, I am beginning to see the possibility of it. Cringing, I duck my head away from the free-falling bird, not liking what seems to be the only probable sequential event. Just then, thankfully, fickle Fate changes direction and the bird swoops into a graceful glide, narrowly avoiding the grassy cliff edge which my legs were dangling off not a moment ago.

Wow. Close shave. For me, that is. I don't give a hoot about the bird. Ha! Get it? I don't give a "hoot" about the bird? As in, birds hoot? Heehee. . . okay yeah I guess you get it.

"Close shave there, eh?" says a voice from the forest behind me. It is a strong British voice. Correction: a strongly male British voice. Or a strongly British male voice, depending on whether it is a strong British accent or just a strong male whose voice is incidentally British. The order of words can change everything, but I think what I mean is this: It is a strongly British male voice. There.

The voice is followed by footsteps, and I turn around to see a man strolling into the clearing where I stand. Wait, did I say a strongly British male voice? Because I'm sure I meant a strongly male British voice.

Yes, you know of what I speak.

I giggle a little, nervousness my initial reaction to the unknown intruder. He steps closer, and I realize that his clothes are very, very wet. Soaked, even. Of course, this is not peculiar, seeing as there is a storm above our heads, but that realization makes me cognizant of my own clothes, the drenched black running shorts, the thin white linen V-neck that is now clingy and transparent, exposing the Nike emblem on my sports bra. Although fortunately he cannot see that, because there is a small puppy in my arms. A small puppy that apparently is his, as he is now reaching out to take him back.

I loosen my grip on the animal, but then pull back. "Oh, so he's yours?" I ask.

Yes, I realize these are two actions that do not make sense when put together. Much of my life doesn't make sense in retrospect. Anyway, what gives this man the right to take back his pet dog without any explanation to the heroine as to why he let this poor doggy amble off into dangerous lands filled with leery poultry? Nothing. Nothing gives anyone that right. So I'm not letting him—her? I check the underside of the animal discreetly: him—go back to his owner until I get that explanation.

The man nods. "Yes, he's mine."

There is a note of impatience in his voice, a note that doesn't ring true in his face. Because, you see, he has a nice face. Wide-set eyes with clarity of color—light green-gray, I would say—contrasted with tan skin, smooth like stretched fabric over chiseled rock of a facial structure. But then the dark—almost black—striking eyebrows framing the windows; yes, perhaps there is impatience in this face.

I pull away further, stroking the baby-soft fur of the puppy. "And how, sir, do I know that for sure?" I make sure my tone is both biting and respectful (note the "sir"). I don't really want to coax out that impatience.

He smiles, a wry, close-mouthed affair that digs lines into the skin on both sides of his mouth. It's a fascinating, irritating smile, one worthy of Da Vinci's close attention; regardless, it will have to be satisfied with mine.

"Well," He says, cocking his head to one side as he surveys me, seeming to size me up, "you could just assume—like any reasonable sort of person—that a two-month-old collie would not be able to make its way to the top of this mountain alone, thus concluding that someone must have carried him up here, and that possibly—no—very probably, I am that someone."

I lift one eyebrow, not deigning to speak yet.

His eyes follow the line of my brow, and he looks me in the eye, a little closer this time, as though he has now gained new respect for me because of my remarkable eyebrow maneuverability.

"Although. . ." he pauses, raising an eyebrow of his own, "I really must thank you for saving my dog from that foul creature."

"Ha. Fowl creature. Fuuuh-neee." I say, grudgingly acknowledging the pun.

His other eyebrow lifts, surprised, and then the lines around his mouth cut deeper, forcing his lips into a full-blown smile. I take a breath and ready myself for the standard British teeth, but to no avail. His teeth are straight and white, only adding to the overall effect of his face. And those eyes. Impatient, curious, appraising, laughing.

"Well, if you really must confirm my honesty, look on the back of the dog's tag. I just had my number stamped there today. If you call and my phone rings, then you should logically conclude that the dog legally belongs to me." The words are commanding, but his mouth still has traces of a laugh.

I pull my phone out and consider. If I pull my phone out and call, he will have my number. And yes, I do know about star 67. But for some reason, it never works on my phone. How I know this: I was unfortunate enough to discover it when a drunken friend borrowed my phone without my knowledge and called her boyfriend at two o'clock in the morning. Said boyfriend didn't recognize her alcohol-soaked voice, and thus, recognizing my name in his phone's address book, began the full frontal flirtation the next time I saw him. Not a good memory. Not going to happen again.

And so I consider.