They are nearly upon me. There isn’t much time. Please, come quickly.
It started about a quarter of an hour ago. I heard them, their high-pitched voices rising over the sounds of the crickets singing praise to the sweet smell of early evening.
They were talking about me. About what they would do.
And when I heard the clattering of their tools coming from the room with the closed door, I knew for certain. So now, I run. As fast as I know how. As fast as you taught me, Mama. I barely notice the branches lining the pathway as I hurl my body through the twilight, my vision just a blur of green and gray as my feet negotiate first the soft, damp grass, then the rougher stones that lie beyond. Were it not for the small scratches on my face, it might even be an enjoyable dash. On a different day.
But, you see, I must hide, or it will happen. Carefully, I negotiate the narrow spot where a tall iron gate meets the damp flower garden, spreading a colorful carpet outward to touch a forest that I will likely never see. Safe for the moment, nestled under the branches of lush ferns mingled with sunflowers and rosemary, I pause, listening, watching, for any sound that might signal hope. Is it possible? Have they changed their mind?
Then, I hear their voices. They are coming for me again. Belly to the ground, I wriggle under the low branches and the nettles, and search the fence, inch by inch, for any sign of a breach in the barricade. Even the slightest opening would suffice..... I am clever still, Mama, just as you taught me to be. And if I can find an escape route, then I know just what to do. “When you are in danger,” you told me, “climb away from them; they cannot reach you, for they cannot clamber up these hills as you can.” Yes, I remember, Mama. But I find no exit. Not today. So I dive through the brambles, heedless of the slight stings needling my skin, and risk being spotted as I emerge, my nostrils opening gratefully to receive the fresh air.
They are waiting for me, shouting. I whisk deftly around their grasping hands, and run inside.
It is cooler here, and dark now in the hallway, for the sun has gone down. Grateful for the relative peace of the interior, I walk past His room and hear the deep voice that, on another day, I might find tender, even soothing. He is speaking, perhaps to a friend, for He is laughing. “Why, yes,” he says, “she has turned the whole household upside down. The boys are taking good care of her.”
And She is here, too. Even though I have been with them only a short time, I know nearly everything about Her. Well, everything important, anyway. The smell of Her skin, smooth and sweet and soft. The gentle touch of Her hands on my back and neck. The way that She lifts me and holds me close at night, when I am frightened and miss you and my brothers and sisters. The intoxicating scent of what She is cooking for supper now. Even though my breath is coming in ragged gasps and my heart is racing, for I have run so far and so long, if I close my eyes I can feel it, the comfort of just being near Her and breathing in Her calm presence.
And I think that maybe – just maybe, Mama – I am safer than I knew.
But then, She speaks.
“Boys, I don’t care what’s on TV,” She says firmly. “Your puppy smells awful, and she needs a bath. NOW!”
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