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Three weeks ago they stole my babies and left me to die in this cage.
For three weeks I have laid here in my own filth, aching to run across the yard and breathe fresh air. For three weeks the wounds from the fight have tried to heal, but they grow more painful as the time drags on.
During this confinement, a man would give me food on rare occasions. He was big enough to make me fight again. I so badly wish I could trust him. I'd let him take me outside or rub my belly. I would die from joy if he stroked my dirty fur. But I cannot trust him. I would rather die in my filth than fight again. By raging against this cage, I will never let him close to me. So the man puts food through the top bars of this cage and leaves me again.
And again I am alone.
One day, things changed. A girl came to watch me.
I warned her to stay away, but she did not fear me. She merely pitied me. But she was cautious and much too small to do any evil unto me. I did not fear her at all.
For a while we just watched each other and if she tried to come too close, I'd let her know. But then, she became possessed by a sort of madness, rushing over and unlocking the door on this cage. Even when I lunged viciously at the cage, she didn't flinch once while removing the locks.
The door was open. I was free. Free!
Yet, I did not move. Three weeks in this cage and freedom screams my name. I couldn't move. For a long time I stay put. Then I bolt out of the cage and race 'round the abandoned house like it's the first time I ever learned to walk! I can run!I raced and ran and raced and ran, just overwhelmed with joy. Then I remembered the girl. She was confidenlty waiting to be greeted.
'I don't need to know who you are,' I tell her with my loud bark, 'You are my friend, my savior, and I will always remember you. But I still don't trust you.'
"You poor girl," She speaks in her own language, looking at my wounds. "What did they do to you?"
I don't know what it means but I can tell by the tone that she is pitying me again. 'And you better not fight me, either!' I bark and race around again.
When I return, she gives me little chunks of food. Chicken. Like the little boy used to feed me when his mom wasn't watching. The girl talks to me, too.
"We'll get you cleaned up, sure enough. But you look a bit hungry."
'Darn right!' I give her The Face.
Then we go outside! There is wet, cold stuff all over the grass! I leap off that porch and bound through that yard, praising that wet, cold stuff that numbs my feet. I feel like they aren't there and I am flying. My legs no longer ache and I can finally breathe the frigid air. Fresh air! What joy!
The sun is burning far brighter than I have ever noticed.
We run together back and forth across the yard. Then she finds the oldrope and invites me to play. I certainly didn't decline!
They used to tug the rope with me every day. I remember those times. They used to love me. Why did They leave me? What did I do wrong? I am so focused on my old life that I forget the girl is there and become aggressive.My teeth clamp over the girl's hand and she draws away, dropping the rope.
But she forgives me. No harm done. And we go inside to get some water. She cleans out my disgusting cage and puts in some sheets that They left. The sheets still smell like Them, and it makes me sad again. I dash angrily back outside and run out the aches in my legs and the pain in my wounds and
the frustration in my heart. I just run and run until I feel better. I only feel better when I hear girl call for me.
She tells me in her language that she must leave. With her eyes she tells me that she really doesn't want to leave me.
She orders me back into the cage. I don't want to go, but I do.
She locks me up and looks deep into my icy blue eyes. Her eyes clearly tell me she will be back again. In her language she says, "Athea, I won't let Them hurt you again. I promise. I will be back for you."
I hope she does. I hope she comes back. I am thinking this all through the night. I feel even more alone than the first night They left. I can't sleep a bit.
Early the next morning, I waited anxiously until she opened the door again. There was no preliminary sniffing, no waiting, watching, none of yesterday's greeting ceremonies. Today started much faster.
We played together all morning and went for a long walk by the river. She took me to a place and put some cold stuff on my wounds. Then she wrapped up my foot cause it hasn't stopped bleeding. Three weeks and it's still bleeding.
She told to her family about me. At first they looked at me with pity. Now they looked at me with hatred and disgust. They said things to her that made her
weak and vulnerable. They shunned us both.
At least the girl understands. She gave me a chance.
We got some food, then went "home" to catch snowballs. We enjoyed each others' company until dark, then she had to leave again.
She locked me up and went away. I was only alone in the flesh. In my mind the girl was still there, looking in my eyes. She gave me hope. I believed that she wouldn't leave me for good.
And abandon me she did not! She came back every day for two weeks.
One day, I had been expecting her and she came a little early. My tail wagged and my blood surged through my body with a calm warmth. Then I heard the footsteps. They weren't hers. My blood turned to ice when I saw that it was that mean woman who left me there in that cage to die five weeks ago.
She says, "I expected you to be dead by now."
I tried to be vicious to keep her away, but she was like the girl:
determined. The woman wasn't here to help me, though. She got the cage open and I bolted cross the house. Just my luck that the door was closed. I ran all through the house to keep away from that woman.
She trapped me in one room and I put up a big fight.
When that woman grabs at me I bite a nice chunk from her hand. And I tell her, 'Now, you woman, listen here! I ain't going down without a fight! I love this life and you ain't takin' it away!! I won't give up!'
Not while I got so much hope left. I will give it my all. I can make it out. But how? The girl told me, "Don't give up."
And then I know that the girl will never see me again. I know she'll come back. She wouldn't ever give up on me.
She'll see the blood and know. She'll know I didn't give up. She gave me hope when I needed it the most. She gave me a chance.
I did my best to keep from that woman. I put up an immense struggle.
I gave my all, my entire effort, my strong instincts and my ceaseless will to survive. But in the end she threw the rope around my throat and dragged me out.
Then I was gone.