Thursday, August 31, 2017

Words from Wednesday

I'm joining again with fellow creative bloggers down under, up here and over there. Words this month have been provided by River at Drifting Through Life.  Next month's words will be found at Granny Annie's spot

"I wasn't ready for another dog!" she whispered as tears rolled down the sides of her face and into her ears. Pulling her t-shirt up over her face, she tried to dry out her ears and sat up on the sofa.  It had been seven months (2 weeks, 4 days, and 10 hours, but she really wasn't counting) since her soul-dog had died unexpectedly in her arms, and there still wasn't a night that went by that she didn't catch her breath and cry under the covers, her pillow muffling her sobs.

But there he was, at the other end of the sofa, looking as if he understood he wasn't wanted.  It was something he was familiar with, although he didn't understand it completely.  He really was a complaisant dog, there were sometimes just extenuating circumstances.

His first home had too many small children that wanted to pull on his fur. After one such torturous afternoon of bedevilment, he had reacted with a snap at some clutching little fingers.  The child jumped and fell backward with a "splat" sound from their very full diaper.  He went to a shelter that very day.

The shelter had been frightening and loud, with each dog barking in competition to get the attention of the people that would sometimes walk by.  He hadn't known what to do at first, he was so traumatized by the noise and sudden change in his environment.  He huddled in the far back of his kennel, where he could hear the rain dripping from the eaves outside at night.  It was cold in the small building where he stayed in a narrow run between two larger, and meaner, dogs.  At night he shivered, whining and sometimes howling in fear and loneliness.

One afternoon, two nuns came into the shelter. They were seeking a companionship dog for an elderly nun who had recently been ill and was now living at an institute for retired and disabled clergy men and women.  As all the dogs barked and howled, jumping at the gates to get their attention, he instead had stood in the center of the kennel, unsure of whether or not he wanted to approach the women.  One of them knelt down and tried to get him to come to the gate, but she smelled of illness, so he backed away from her and curled up in the corner with his back to the gate.

The next day a man came to the shelter. He was looking for a small dog that didn't shed much.  He had researched breeds on his computer and had heard that there was a Shih Tzu at the shelter.  

The man picked him up and looked at him.  "He'll do," he said, before paying the fee and carrying him out the door.  He didn't care what it cost, or whether or not it was friendly.  He just wanted something low maintenance so that his children would stop whining about wanting a dog since his wife had walked out on all of them.

They called him Charlie. The shelter said it had been his name before, and they thought he was about a year and a half old. As time passed, Charlie began to wonder if he wouldn't have been better off staying at the shelter.  The man would go out of town on business for several days at a time, leaving the children to take care of him. But they would all go their separate ways, to friends' houses or older siblings.  He sometimes went several days without seeing anyone, or without getting any food, water or walks.  He learned to limit how much water he drank because it became too uncomfortable to hold it, and when the man came home and found places where he had been forced to go to the bathroom, he would yell and punish Charlie.  He would howl at all hours of the day from loneliness and fear that he would be left alone forever.  

Sometimes when the man was home, the children would bring friends over and Charlie was never sure who was going to treat him nicely, or push him away.  He became afraid of strangers, and one time he even snapped at one of the children when they roughly pushed him away. He was punished by the man but wasn't taken back to the shelter.  Charlie almost wished he had been.

One day some people moved into the basement. After a while, the man went away on business again and all the children went to their friends' houses.  Charlie got hungry and lonely and started howling. Unexpectedly, he heard a voice in the back door hallway talking to him. He growled and barked, but didn't go close enough for the voice to see him.  Suddenly, a little piece of hot dog rolled across the floor, then another, and another.  He waited until the voice went away and he heard the door to the basement close before he went out to eat them.

Every night that the man was gone and the children didn't come home to feed or walk him, the voice would talk to him when he started to howl. There would be treats, or hot dogs, or some other concoction of food tossed over the pet gate that divided them.  He would wait until he heard the voice leave before he ate.

One week there was a great deal of turmoil in the house. The man was putting things in boxes, and the children were crying. Charlie didn't understand what was going on except that he heard his name mentioned a few times when the man talked on the phone or to the children's friends.  Finally, the man carried him to the basement door and knocked.  He heard the voice ask who it was, and the man said it was him and he had a favor to ask.  Could they watch Charlie for a few weeks until things got sorted out?  The man was moving far away, and the children were either staying with older siblings or their mother and couldn't take Charlie.  He would pay them.

The door opened, and for the first time, Charlie saw who the voice belonged to.  It was a woman who looked sad and lonely just like Charlie.  She reached out her arms and took him, and said that as long as it was temporary, they could watch him.  Charlie growled a little as she held him, and she whispered in his ear, "Shhh. It's okay. You won't get hurt here, you won't be left alone, and you won't ever be hungry."

Now the two of them watched TV together, went for walks, and snuggled at night.  The man never called or came back for Charlie, and Charlie didn't miss him or the children at all.  She might not have thought she was ready for another dog when they met, but she was, and Charlie knew that they were meant to be together.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday's Words ...

The original Words for Wednesday was begun by Delores and eventually taken over by a moveable feast of participants when Delores had computer troubles.  The aim of the words is to encourage us to write, a story, a poem, whatever comes to mind.
If you are posting an entry on your own blog, please let us know so we can come along and read it.  This month the words are supplied by River and can be found here.

Image Source:

Dusk is beginning to come early these days, the sun turning northern clouds an exquisite shade of amethyst.  The morning dew turns spiders' knitting into jeweled silk gossamer.  Apples on the trees are beginning to turn red, and I've been searching for recipes for homemade applesauce.

As I glance out the window, the turbulent winds toss the branches in the trees as the cold moves south. The sweater I've been forced to put on this evening is itching my skin as my brain tries to wrap around the thought that summer might just be too short. There is no security in the date on the calendar. The truth is in the wind.
An unexpected death today ~ a nephew gone too soon, and under unnecessary difficulties.  My heart breaks for his mother, brother, and sister.  Life is too short. Always. Too short. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Words on a Friday ...

I'm sneaking in late to join the amazingly creative bloggers at Drifting Through Life for this week's words.

He sat in the dark, listening closely to every sound. He knew she must be sitting just on the other side of the door as well, waiting to see if he made any noise.

He had seen the open trap door to what must have once been a root cellar and as he turned to tell her to be careful, she had tripped on a chair and fell against him. Thrown off balance, he had almost fallen down the stairs but had been able to grab the edge of the floor to keep from going all the way down.  When the trap door had fallen shut on his hand, he had cursed at her as he jerked his smashed hand away and landed heavily on his back.

The fall had knocked the wind out of him at first, and for a moment he wasn't sure if he was even still alive. As he lay on the dirt floor, huffing and puffing to try to get into a normal breathing rhythm, he was confused about what had actually happened.  Had she really tripped, or had she deliberately pushed him into the cellar?

As breathing became easier, he slowly moved up the stairs until he was just under the door.  He couldn't see any light in the room above through the cracks in the door.  He felt a panic rising in him and started counting backwards from one hundred as he had done as a child when his anxiety made him a target for bullies.  As he mouthed the number eight, he heard her move in the room above and suddenly threw himself at the door, screaming and shouting her name.

He heard her laughing at him, then suddenly stifle herself and run from the cabin.  His anger reached such a supreme intensity at that moment, he could scarcely contain himself.  Screaming obscenities at her, pounding on the door, he continued until he could feel the blood pouring from his splintered and shattered fists, and his throat was so sore he could only manage a whisper.  How long had he been at it? He didn't know.  All he knew now was that he desperately wanted something to drink and to wrap his hands around her throat to watch her slowly die.

He sat back on the floor and felt something underneath him.  Shifting his weight, he realized that his cell phone had fallen out of his pocket somehow and quickly turned it on.  Zero bars. No signal at all.  But there was still enough battery for him to use it to see what was in the cellar that he could use to his advantage.

In a corner, he found a candle and a handmade fishing pole.  There weren't any hooks, and the line was just a piece of twine that crumbled under his touch.  Frowning, he turned to look at the rest of the cellar as the cell phone began to dim.  Swiping his finger across the screen, he noticed for the first time along the bottom of the phone which read "emergency calls only." Quickly tapping out 911 on the keypad, he listened to see if the call would be answered. Static, then a voice that was broken and indecipherable.

"Hello?!? Hello?!?! Can you hear me? I need help! I'm trapped!!"

The phone suddenly went black as the battery finally died. Angrily he threw it against the wall, hearing it smash and fall into pieces on the floor. He felt his way back to the stairs and trap door, beating and screaming until he slumped exhausted to the ground.


She had gotten into the shower as soon as she got home, turning the water as hot as she could stand it as if she could wash the despicable names he had called her off her skin. Seeing his brand new razor on the edge of the sink, she had used it to shave her legs and underarms, the second act of defiance she'd done in the last ten years.

Later, she had stood in front of the bathroom mirror, and wiped a circle in the steam to look at herself. He had always made her keep her hair long, even when the summer temperatures exceeded 100°.  It gave him something to grab and pull when he wanted to punish her.  Now she cut it off until it was just at her chin. She took his razor again and shaved uneven layers in her hair to give it texture.  It was her third act of defiance.

A week later, when no one had knocked on her door, she had filed a missing person report on him.  No, she didn't know where he could have gone.  He didn't have many friends. She thought he had gone on a business trip, but didn't know for sure since he seldom told her his plans.  Interviews with his clients confirmed that none had even known he was married.

A month later, when the police were still without any clues or anyone who had confessed to even missing him, she stood in front of his closet and took all of his tailor made white silk shirts off the hangers.  He spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on each shirt, yet couldn't spend $4 on a bar of soap or bottle of shampoo to wash his body or hair on a daily basis. He bathed or shaved only when it would financially benefit him ~ when he had a business meeting with one of his investors.  For them, he would look and smell his best, but for her, he wouldn't even brush his teeth.

She carefully slid a piece of cardboard covered in plastic wrap inside the first shirt and began to work.  Taking a lit candle, she dripped wax across the silk making flowers that would impress even Monet. Next, she took an eyedropper and carefully colored in her flowers using fabric dyes. As the silk dried, she began working on another shirt until there were thirty completed shirts, one for every season of flowers she could imagine. In the corner of each collar, she had carefully dipped a toothpick into the wax and signed them "DBH."

It was her fourth act of defiance.

After she had carefully ironed the wax out of the fabric, she had tried each of them on, some worn as dresses with a solid colored silk tie as a belt, others as shirts.  A few she had made with her sisters and old girlfriends in mind, and so she sat down to write them each a long overdue letter before wrapping their shirt in tissue paper and addressing the labels for the shipping envelopes. He had cut her off from everyone he knew within the first two years of their marriage.  Now it was time to reconnect.

It was her fifth act of defiance.

A year later, when she had forgotten what his voice sounded like, what he looked and smelled like; when the police had misplaced their few slips of paper notes about the man no one missed, she had stood in front of the small gallery with the "DBH Gallery Grand Opening" banner and smiled.  In the window, she saw her latest silk shirt creations, along with artwork some of her new friends had made for the occasion.

Defiance Becomes Her.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Words for Wednesday ...

Let the word games continue ... I'm joining the wonderfully creative bloggers at Drifting Through Life and Elephant's Child for this week's words. 

When you live in an abusive relationship, it can sometimes seem like having multiple dynamic personalities.  Who you are alone in public, or your demeanor at work can be dramatically different from who you are at home. What may seem like an easy solution to the problem ~ leaving ~ isn't always that simple. The longer you stay, the harder it can be to leave because you often don't have many ~ or any ~ friends or family that know your situation. It is not something that is easy to talk about or explain why you have stayed.

To someone who has never lived that life of fear and uncertainty, they don't understand that you didn't choose that life, or that person because of how they would treat you. Abusers lure you in with all the right words and actions.  Even when you start to suspect that something isn't quite right in your relationship, they know exactly what to say to make you question yourself and not them. By the time you realize that you are in trouble, usually, after the ring is on your finger, it is often too difficult to easily walk away.

Choosing to leave requires thought and planning.  Oh, you can certainly drop everything and run. But chances are that your abuser has so completely controlled you, so completely manipulated you, that you may have little or no financial resources to fall back on if you choose to run. So when you make that decision, you need to make sure you can stick to it because going back shouldn't be an option.  Going back may not mean smoothly going back to a familiar situation. It could mean going back to something much worse because now there is retaliation for having the audacity to leave.

She knew all these things when she made the decision that enough was enough and that she wouldn't be able to pull off any Jennifer Lopez moves. She also knew that she never wanted him to be able to treat another woman the way he had treated her. She wanted out and she wanted to be able to sleep at night.

The cabin was deep in the woods.  So deep that when the real estate agent took her out to show her the property, they had to walk a mile off the dirt road that required four-wheelers to get even that close.  There was no mobile phone service, and without electricity, there were also no lights in the cabin. For a hunter, it was the perfect property.  For the hunted, it was the perfect property.

It had taken her ten years of putting aside loose change and spare dollars. She'd had to save them at the office where she worked, hidden in a locked box, in the back of a locked desk drawer.  As soon as she'd saved enough she would exchange her smaller coins and bills for a larger denomination bill to save space in the box.  Eventually, she'd been forced to buy three other lock boxes.  But she finally had saved and hidden enough. Buying the cabin for $6000 had made a dent in her savings, but she knew it was perfect for what she had in mind. 

The real estate agent was surprised that she wanted to pay cash, but he didn't complain.  The cabin had been on the market for ten years, and there weren't even any living heirs anymore to transfer the deed.  In fact, there wouldn't be any transfer.  The terms of the sale were that the cabin would need to be moved or burned within the next year when the land lease with the national forest was up. The cabin would be hers, but there would be no way to prove it if anyone ever asked.  The cash she paid for the property already filled his pockets, and the deed to the property would line the bottom of his bird's cage in the morning.  He didn't dare risk depositing any of the cash.  No reason for the IRS to be alerted. It wasn't as if it was a huge sum anyway. If he was careful, he could probably not need another commission for three months.

She told her husband that a friend had offered her their cabin for the weekend. She said it in an offhand way as if she really didn't want to go, or even wanted to mention it to him. She knew that if she acted disinterested it would pique his interest and curiosity to the point of obsession. He asked where it was, and she said she wasn't positive, only that it was quite far and difficult to get to. He said they should go that weekend.

From the dirt road where they left the side-by-side four-wheeler, it should have been a straight mile west to the cabin, taking them less than 30 minutes to reach. But she didn't want him to know she had been there several times already to prepare. Instead, she went southeast, then east before turning north and making a gradual southwesterly turn, taking two hours to get to the cabin.

Sunset was in an hour by the time they reached the cabin, but they were deep enough into the forest that it seemed as if the sun had already set. Holding her cell phone as a flashlight, she followed him into the cabin and making sure that the trap door to the tiny root cellar under the cabin was still open. She waited until he was close to the open door, then acted as if she tripped on a chair leg and threw her weight against him.  As he went flying down the stairs, she quickly slammed the door closed and put a lock on it.

There had been an audible thud when he had landed on the bare sand floor, then nothing. She waited in the darkness and silence.  She thought once she heard him curse her name but then realized that it might have just been her conscious making her feel guilty.  Looking at her watch, she suddenly realized that she had been sitting there for almost an hour.  There hadn't been any sound from the root cellar in all that time.

She slowly stood, the floor creaking as she moved. Suddenly it was if he had been waiting at the top of the stairs the entire time, just listening for her to move.  He pounded angrily on the trap door and screamed profanities at her, demanding that she let him out immediately so that he could deal with her face to face.

The irony of his demand and the sudden shock and fear she felt of what he would do to her if the lock or door didn't hold made her burst into hysterical laughter. She quickly put her hand over mouth, shaking so hard she almost fell to the floor.  He screamed at her and began pounding on the trap door again even harder.

Turning quickly, she ran from the cabin and into the darkness.  She had made the hike through the woods several times to learn landmarks that she would have to feel in the darkness when she didn't want to use a flashlight. But she still stumbled and cried out with fear when she thought she had taken a wrong turn.

It took her an hour to get back to the side-by-side, walking with her hands in front of her to feel for the next landmark tree, counting her steps along the way. Every sound, every snap of a branch, or rustle of leaves made her freeze and listen, holding her breath until she couldn't hold it any longer. When she finally got back to the truck and trailer they had rented, she drove the side-by-side up the ranps onto the trailer and quickly drove back to the rental yard.  She dropped the keys in the rental box and drove her car straight home.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Wednesday's Words ...

What?!? Wednesday already?!? Where has this week gone??? I'm picking up where I left off last week and joining the wonderfully creative bloggers at Drifting Through Life and Elephant's Child for this week's words. 

     It had been their anniversary the weekend prior. As he had regularly for the past 11 years, her husband had forgotten about it until he came home from work and saw the candlelit dinner she had prepared for them. He stood in the doorway of the dining room for a moment with a confused look on his face.
     "I guess today is some kind of an occasion or something?"
     She looked up at him and hesitated before answering. She had to carefully process her response. If he was just testing her, a sarcastic response could be dangerous. But if he had truly forgotten, then reminding him could also be dangerous.
     "Every day with you is special, dear."
     He studied her face, moving closer until his height towered over her. She knew instantly that he had been testing her and that her cautious answer had been too close to being sarcasm.  She mentally kicked herself. He leaned down, whispering to her.
     "Perhaps we should celebrate with a matinee movie.  Not this crap you made that they wouldn't even serve in the concessions stand."
     She held her breath, waiting until he stepped back before she inhaled again. Something had obviously died inside of him.  The stench of his breath and the blackness of his teeth had almost made her vomit.
     "That sounds nice.  There is an indie film festival this weekend. Maybe we could see something? I heard there was a movie showing called Suburbia. Or maybe it was called The Safety of Objects? I can't remember which.  But it has Glenn Close in it, and I know you like her work."  

     They had gone to the movie and later had dinner in one of the nicer, more expensive restaurants in town.  She had been surprised at his willingness to see an indie movie, and even more surprised when he had suggested the restaurant.
     The next morning she had woken up early, thinking of something Glenn Close's character had said in the movie.

"How did I get here? Somewhere along the way, things have gotten out of hand. I don't know how. I tried to do things right, but... maybe that's the problem. Maybe there is no right or wrong. We're ruled by chaos. That would make more sense. That there are no rewards, no punishments. Life isn't a series of results of things done right or wrong. It's all just random. Those are the rules. There are no rules."
      The movie had given her the courage to take the next step. She knew that what she had planned for him would almost be considered overkill but she knew she couldn't do another year with him.  It was time to end it.