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  • BeautyfromAshes
    • shortstory

     The air was so humid she could taste the storm coming. There was an unusual darkness to the afternoon. Bizzy lay with her broad head resting on her crossed blue mottled legs. Her nostrils nuzzled the wire mesh of the framed wooden barrier that held her captive. She sucked in the auras of the unknown. Smells much more amusing out there than in here she concluded. Her childlike brown eyes clouded. Miles of dirt to turn over. Yummy tree bones. Constant treats to devour. Cats to chase. People to sniff.

    The sun peaked through the wood framed storm door. It illuminated her long, athletic build and blue speckled dense coat. Bizzy took on the characteristics of her father. She had outgrown her mother by several inches. Momma strolled in the room and flopped her blackish tan thick body down next to Bizzy. She pushed her paws teasingly into Bizzy’s belly.

    “Why won’t UnNi let us go out there?” Bizzy pointed her snout towards the wood framed door.

    “Because love always protects” Momma replied, a meaningful look in her eyes.

    Bizzy cocked her head. What’s love got to do with it? She thought. Grrr… never mind. Momma always sided with UnNi anyway. She dropped her head back down on her crossed legs.

    A clap of thunder pierced through both of their eardrums. Wind unleashed seemingly out of nowhere ripping the door wide open. The doors delicate chain snapped, allowing it to crash forcefully into the house. Momma and Bizzy jumped to their paws, their eyes wide and bulging. Both barked relentlessly.

    “Oh my biscuits! Where is UnNi!?” Momma panicked as the broken door thrashed wildly.

    Gradually the wind weakened and tapered off. Excitement stirred in Bizzy’s stomach. She leaped through the open door eagerly browsing the outlawed expanse with her nose.

    “Get your paws back in here!” Momma fretted. “It’s a ruff life out there on the streets!”

    “Life here isn’t worth a snort!” Bizzy tactlessly responded. She turned her bum towards Momma. Bizzy inhaled deeply, paused, exhaled and forged ahead.

    Momma tucked her tail between her legs. Her eyes fixed on Bizzy. She paced the floor anxiously panting. “She’s never been without me or UnNi.” Momma grunted.

    “You have no idea what it’s like out there!” Momma yelled.

    She licked her mouth nervously, glanced around uneasily searching for UnNi and swallowed hard. Reluctantly, Momma thrust herself outside the safety of UnNi and back into the streets of a world she hoped she’d never return.

    ***

    Momma galloped fiercely until she caught up with her offspring. Breathlessly, she tried to convince Bizzy to turn around. They cantered along until Bizzy stopped abruptly at a schoolyard where children were playing. She clawed adamantly at the dirt under the chain-link fence.

    A whistle sounded. Children scrambled. Bizzy plowed faster and harder into the dirt. Finally, able to get her body onto the schools ground, she romped her way towards the crowd. The high-pitched voices of the youngsters egged her on. She circled clock-wise around them, pushing the children forward. Lowering her head, she bumped one boy on his behind, nipped the heels of several others as she confidently paced back and forth behind them. Some children climbed the stairs of the slide to get away from her. Others hurled rocks in her direction. Children kicked dirt on her. One husky boy kicked Bizzy in her ribs. Bizzy cried out loudly. Sharp throbs of pain clenched her body. She stumbled backwards and crouched down, confused and ashamed. Momma stood at the hole urging her to come back. She ran as fast as she could and dived under the fence. In their frenzy, both mother and daughter unknowingly raced away in the opposite direction of UnNi.

    The clouds darkened. The thunder rolled. A lightning bolt split the sky. Momma and Bizzy found shelter under a billowing tree.

    “The world doesn’t want me, Momma!?” Bizzy questioned sheepishly.

    Momma smiled graciously “There is no illusion greater than fear.” Bizzy rubbed her face with her paw. Here we go again with the riddles. She rolled her eyes.

    ***

    Raindrops fell. Trees moaned and bent with the wind. Leaves cascaded around them. Bizzy’s ears stood erect. She tilted her head, wiggled her nose and sniffed deeply.

    “Smell that?”

    Before Momma could answer, Bizzy darted away. The wind drove the rain faster, harder and stronger. As Bizzy trudged ahead, the rainfall pricked her face like needles. She sloshed through the mud losing her balance often but remained intent on tracing that scent.

    The piercing squeal of a tire, the aroma of burning rubber and several car horns rang out. Bizzy sensed something was wrong. She stopped herself. Before she could catch her breath, BAM! Something hit her. This one stung worse than the rocks. Her body flew forward, landed and tumbled before crashing into the curb. The air knocked out of her lungs. Blackness was all she could see.

    Momma charged towards her. Bizzy’s eyes open but hollow. Muddy pools of water drenched them with each passing car. Momma aimlessly searched, jabbing Bizzy’s limb body with her snout. Bizzy growled threateningly, raised her upper lip and bared her teeth at Momma.

    “Thank goodness, You’re alive!” Momma screeched with joy. “We have got to get you home!”

    ***

    Bizzy’s leg stung horribly with each hop. Raindrops hit her like stones. The wind pushed the dogs around as if they were stuffed animals. A trail of blood followed Bizzy as she limped behind Momma. The two canines searched for shelter from the storm.

    A beat up rusted old Pontiac pulled up next to them. A tall, thin man in a long black rain coat got out of the car. The man leerily approached. Momma got a good whiff. He smelled of liquor.

    “I know that stench” Momma whispered. She raised her hackles and squared her back.

    “A couple hundred maybe” He shouted over his shoulder towards his car.

    Bizzy didn’t know that smell, but she could tell by the way Momma responded the man was dangerous. Momma’s entire body stiffened. Her tail erect and eyes wide. Momma’s ears flattened as she released a vibrating growl deep within her chest. Bizzy watched, amazed. Go Momma!


    Bizzy lunged towards the man startling him. Momma sprang forward, clamping her jaws on his ankle and yanking him to the ground. The man landed in a giant mud puddle. With each attempt to stand up, he slid back down into the muck.

    “Run to the park and hide!” Momma commanded.

    ***

    Momma and Bizzy found refuge under the parks picnic shelter. Bizzy’s hind leg had swollen to twice its normal size. She curled into a wet lump and lay shivering in the deepest corner of the dwelling. Clouds boiled around them. Momma frantically sniffed in the air. There was no hint of UnNi -- only these obscure aromas that dangled in the humidity.

    Bizzy’s breaths were shallow. Restlessly, she stood up, whirled around, laid down again only to urgently get back up, circle around, lie down and try again. Finally, she exhaustively collapsed. The dogs huddled together and fell asleep.

    Bizzy’s eyes flew open with the cracking sound of the thunder. The picnic shelter rattled. This painful gnawing sensation festered in the pit of her stomach.

    “It’s like an itch that I can’t reach” she explained to Momma.

    “That’s hunger” Momma reckoned.

    “I’d do anything for one of UnNi’s meat sticks.” Bizzy faintly grinned. “You been hungry before, Momma?” She asked naively.

    “Hunger would have killed us both if UnNi had not found me.” Momma responded, slowly releasing her breath.

    “Me too?” questioned Bizzy, aghast.

    “Yes. You were in my belly. I was so hungry. Real skinny. I sniffed out that place where humans dump sacks of really good stuff but I was too weak. I couldn’t jump. So, I laid down next to it. I must have fallen asleep. When I awoke, I was in UnNi’s arms. UnNi was carrying me.” Momma’s eyes clouded.

    “That’s the first time in my life that I ever felt safe”. Momma released a satisfying sigh.

    Bizzy’s eyes burned. Guilt flooded over her. “I’m sorry I took you away from UnNi” She broke their eye contact, looked down and swallowed hard.

    Momma lifted Bizzy’s face with her muzzle. “I would do it all over again for you, my child”. Momma held her face next to Bizzy’s.

    The tree branches groaned. The wind howled beast-like. The thunder rolled like a hungry monster. Bizzy flinched frighteningly. She stood up. Her stance unsteady. Underneath her lay a dark stain. She circled around and dizzily fell back down.

    Bizzy paused to gather her thoughts. “I don’t know why Momma. I just…. I… I just felt this pressure from my insides. It was stronger than me.” Bizzy squished her eyebrows together and shrugged.

    “That’s emotion, baby girl.” Momma rolled her head and pointed her nose towards the barrage of water that encircled them. “Emotion is a lot like this water.” Momma narrowed her eyes.

    “They make excellent servants but horrible masters.”

    “Is this what UnNi was protecting us from?” Bizzy’s angled her eyes towards the storm.

    “Yes.” Gratitude sparkled in Momma’s eyes.

    “How could I be so dumb?!” Bizzy let out a shrieking wail and dropped her chin to her chest.

    “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Momma’s eyes gleamed with hope. “Perhaps none of us know love until we’ve experienced its absence”.

    ***

    “I don’t feel good, Momma” Bizzy hoped that Momma would make her agony stop.

    Momma searched Bizzy’s body with an eager nose. “This isn’t smelling good Biz” Momma’s voice wavered.

    “Don’t touch!” Bizzy snarled. She exposed her teeth. Her once pinkish gums had now turned white and pale. She couldn’t stop shivering even though her body felt like it was burning. Momma kept her eyes steady on Bizzy.

    Momma heard the rhythm of the rain shift from a downpour to a pitter patter. A single ray of sunshine peaked through a crack in the charcoal sky.

    “This is our chance, Bizzy. Get up! We have to go find help.” Momma jumped to her paws. Bizzy did not respond. Her eyes were dull. She did not have the strength to lift her head much less the strength to speak.

    “I can’t sit here” Momma muttered. “I love you, Bizzy, but I got to go.” Momma licked Bizzy’s nose. Bizzy remained unresponsive.

    ***

    Momma leapt into action. She ran savagely bounding over the mud puddles, slowing down only to whip her nostrils back and forth, desperate for the smallest whiff of UnNi.

    Bizzy sensed that the raindrops had lessened. She felt a glimmer of warmth. Is that sunshine? I love sunshine. She wanted to open her eyes but couldn’t. Momma. You there? She wanted to speak but couldn’t open her mouth. Her mind blurry, Why won't you talk to me, Momma? Bizzy lay with her back curved, her head bowed, and her limbs bent and drawn up close to her body. She recognized the buzzing sound of horseflies circling around her. She really enjoyed chasing horseflies but this time she didn’t care. She heard the throaty hisses of turkey vultures perched on a tree near the picnic shelter. This time, she recognized hunger but she didn't care. Her mind drifted. Her body jerked. She fell limp.

    ***


    Bizzy's body lifted carefully from the ground. She recognized the heavenly scent. It’s UnNi!

    “Good job, Momma dog!” UnNi's voice sounded better than even the crackling of a treat bag to Bizzy's ear.

    Momma wagged her tail blissfully, grinning ear to ear.

    “Let’s get our baby to the doctor.” UnNi carried Bizzy as Momma followed eagerly behind them.

    Bizzy relaxed into UnNi's arms. This is the first time in my life I ever felt safe. She released a satisfying sigh. I get it now, Momma.



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