On, and on, and on, and on, and …

Until we’re both so knackered we don’t want to look at another thing that even looks like the words of story.

What this means is that the stage of collaboration is creating the waves we wanted, the extra work we didn’t want, and that time was wasted on injuries and other unimportant stuff – but now we are near to the end. A bit late, but that’s life.

This is the first time we (Shannon Hunter & Cage Dunn) have collaborated on a project together, and it has been both exhilarating and frustrating. The ideas burn bright, the extra oomph and presence is obvious, but the meshing of two to make it look like one – that’s tough.

Even tougher is the fact that one of us [moi, in fact] managed to do an injury that kept the seat off the bum – and that’s slowed things down a bit. But the deadline we set is our own deadline, so we have now adapted it. And we have reached the stage of initial editing – of which we disagree about the process. So, what to do?

Negotiate, that’s what. Shan will do the first edit for the big picture things – the story arc, the plot arc, the character arc (including the baddy), and I will do the middle picture things – the paras and how they flow, the sentences and what they play like (think music and rhythm), the set up, response and resolution/lead in for each section, para and sentence.

But do I start at the same time as Shan? or do I wait? If I wait, will I re-read what she’s done, or will I simply trust and go ahead with my role?

It’s difficult, but this is when all that training in workplace teams and management come in handy. Allocate, trust, continue. Check before the next stage.

Yes, we’re doing it in stages because that allows the person who didn’t do a section to be able to see the possible conflicts better than the person who is too close to the work.

Trust. The big issue – whose story is it anyway? We know the answer to this one, because we did the idea through to concept/premise, all the beat-sheets (for protag and antag) and chain of events scenarios, we did the character profiles and arc strategies – we did them all together, both heads over the hot stove of creation. So neither of us ‘owns’ the right to say ‘mine’ and we both own the right to say ‘ours’.

No arguments there. And we both know that to do the job to the best of our abilities, we have to allow the issue of the other person advising of potential issues. We have to think of it like a small business, which involves not only trust, but an open mind, acceptance of criticism (when it works to the good of the business) and schedules [ooooohhhhh, that timeline thing again].

Then on to the final stage: the small picture things, the use of words, the spelling and grammar and line-by-line edits.

Next time will be easier for both of us [where is that bit of wood?].

Anyway, long story short: Equine Neophyte of the Blood Desert is undergoing a more protracted editing phase than anticipated, and due to some silly person doing speccies over the lounge while watching women’s football of telly, we’re late.

C’est la vie!


Now, back to work.

02redexpress

 

Something

Wind blew a scatter of leaves across my path. The rattle matched the jangle of my reactions. Each sound caused a hitch in my step, caused my fists to clench, my head to turn – this way and that, check everything for movement, for shadows within shadows. For any black darker than the grey of Autumn. There’s something there, and close.

What does it want? What do I have? How can I get out away?

A dog barks, the hack of it bounds from the shape of the wind. I couldn’t tell which direction it came from. If I could, I’d go that way. A dog would be better company than …

A noisy gust lifts a dancer’s swirl of colour – leaves in browns and yellows and reds  and oranges combine and swing and eddy and twirl into a shape of a tall and elegant woman with auburn hair. It was in my way, and I wanted to reach out and brush it away, or burst through it, but I looked again – It had eyes!

My backside hit the cold, wet grass. The path was to my right. My left arm burned with pain and I lifted it, felt the pain that surged through a living body. Pain meant life. If I was alive, I could get out of here.

The useless left arm I tucked into the gap between two buttons on the long blue coat I’d taken from my mother’s cupboard. The arm held there, but it didn’t ease the agony. Life. Agony. Same.

I tucked my legs under my torso, pushed with my right hand on the ground. It was cold and wet. Where were my gloves? Wasn’t I wearing gloves? Who would be silly enough to go out into this sort of day without gloves? Not me. I always worse gloves, summer or winter, to hide it.

Now it was clear and visible and as bright as snow on the mountain. The red gash. The inch-wide scar of livid and proud flesh, one of the many that defined my life. The reason I was out here.

Push. Lift the body.

It was harder than I thought. One arm held in tight to the body, the other weakened by the lack of solidity. Push. Push. Use the legs, use the thighs. Push. Lean into it. There. Up. Looked around.

I saw the gloves on the gravel path. White gloves with the blue pattern of skeletonised leaves. I’d made them for my mother, but she was gone now, and I needed them.

A roar of wind as my foot lifted to move me forward. My left arm came loose of the coat as I leaned into the wind. Hair blew across my face, blocking my sight of the path. But I hadn’t turned, I hadn’t changed direction, so it was directly in front of me. Keep going.

One step. Another. Lean down and into the wind. Hold that left hand steady. Ignore the pain of the left, ignore the bite of cold on the right. Move to the path. Safety lies on the path. With the gloves. See them, see the glow of something there, on that brown path?

I stepped onto the brown, but it wasn’t a path.

I wasn’t walking in the park.

The parapet on the rooftop of my building looked like this. The ledge. One step would take me … away.leaf dancer


Copyright Cage Dunn 2017 (an idea for a Part 2 scene).

 

Lest We Forget …

It was a promise made, one man to another, who wrote it down and spoke it again and again.

“Do not forget. Do not allow others to forget. Say it often: Lest we forget.”

ANZAC Day means something. It’s not a celebration.

It’s about friends, and how they watched each other die in the stink of ditches, in the rain of another country, in the cold and dust of a military action most of them didn’t truly understand. The men who took up the banner of their country and represented it as best they could. Alongside their friends.

Friends who died. And for the ones who returned to a home they no longer felt comfortable in, to people who hadn’t seen the last gasp, or felt the stare of death so close the breath clogged because they weren’t there – this is for you, too, to say those words: Lest We Forget.

The only people who understood the emptiness and bitterness, and sometimes the shame that they couldn’t have done it better, or faster, or been in the place of someone else … The only people who understood were the ones who came back. And now they had to speak for the ones who didn’t. And they said it: Lest we forget.

The woman who was so broken when her husband didn’t come back and decided to lay a flower for him in a public place, who then met up with the man who couldn’t find a way to let go of his friends who were no longer living – they began to meet up on one day each year. Others joined them. Today, I join them to remember my father, my uncles, their friends. Their lives. Lest we forget.

Now it is up to us to say: We remember. And for those who died, and those who came home, and those who lived with a pain in the centre of the family – this is for you. The memory of those who did what was asked of them, who died and suffered and those who relived it all every day of their lives until …

Lest we forget … the price the ordinary people paid for the freedom they believed in.


ANZAC Day is a memorial, a reminder of the cost in blood of those who fought, and continue to fight, for our right to be. There’s no more to it than that – the words are important, the feeling is important, the continuation of our understanding of the sense of loss and deprivation are important.

Lest We Forget.


25 April 2017.

 

That Itch

It was a curse. A gypsy thing – to keep looking beyond the next moment, around the curve, over the next hill. To always be looking beyond where she was now.

Binini had two things: the backpack with all the hooks and catches; and the roll-up doona, otherwise known as a mountain-grade sleeping bag. Oh, and a third thing, the pillow. A bit mangy now, but still the best pillow she’d ever slept on.

They were laid out on the desk, ready to pack. There were very few possessions. Clothes were the easy part – and easily replaced if necessary. And the essential things like water bags and the multi-purpose cooking utensils, the fold-up knife-fork-spoon. A cup that fitted inside the food bowl with a clamp down lid. A place for all these things so she could walk all day and feel balanced and alive. And moving. Going somewhere.

The pictures, though, were like rocks. If she took them, she’d always remember, always feel the tug to come back. Just to see, not to return. Just to look. At what could have been. Just to be sure they were safe.

One hand reached out to pick up the top painting. Stammered to stillness over the bright colours that almost resembled something that might have been an animal with four legs – or maybe it was two people. Her eyes blurred.

What Binini saw was his bright upturned face, the golden eyes glistening with joy as the paints were splattered over more surfaces than paper and wall and floor. His face a multi-hued striation of attempts to dip the end in pots that flipped up every time he got too close with his clumsy appendages.

She saw his tiny little body as the legs tried to keep up with the speed of his need to be here and there and everywhere – all at the same time. A breath hooked in her chest. The fingers clamped shut as the arm pulled the hand back to her body, held it there.

The young girl, older than him, who tried to slow him down, be the mature one. His sister was the one who understood what it was to be left. Alone. Who recognised the signs.

The sadness in her eyes over the last few days were mirrored by the look given by the overlord. No, she shouldn’t call him that. He was their carer. Their foster father. He was trying to be an example. Of stability. Of security. Of … normal. He was trying to not hold Binini back, not force her to do anything she didn’t want to. All he wanted was for Binini to talk. He thought she’d stay if she spoke.

But Binini couldn’t do it. Her dreams drew her further and further each night. The cries that woke her called to her soul. She had to go, had to find out … had to leave.

One picture. She’d take one picture. Her hand leaned in again.

The door banged behind her. She looked around. The young girl with dark brown eyes, the golden edges of pain and loss that glowed in a direct echo of the pain in her heart, closed to evade the answer she saw. She turned away from Binini, closed the door again.

The back pack slid under the bottom bunk. The sleeping bag went on the top bunk to make a smooth cover. The pillow got plumped up and laid against the wall. The picture got blue-tac on the back before she hung it on the wall.

Tonight. Binini would stay tonight. Tomorrow was another day. She’d stay and see what it brought. If the pack stayed out of sight.


Copyright Cage Dunn 2017

Consequences

The bloody thing blew up! Fried like a pea in a vat of boiling oil! And it ponged. The remnants began to make sounds like kids blowing wet raspberries as they unstuck from the ceiling and descended to splatter on the floor with wet plops. Thousands of bits of black and purple and blacker clumps and bits of white ash – how was it even possible?

The wreck of the pressure cooker – where was the lid? – lay scattered throughout the smoke-filled room. Two pieces, the base maybe, and part of one side, lay smoking and sinking into the lino – flame!

Candy tiptoed gingerly over the steaming goo and gunk to the sink, filled a cup with water and splashed it onto the small flames.

Whoosh! Flames now shot to the roof, took in all the floaties and gooies and exploded them, too. She dropped down with her hands wrapped over her head. She had to get out. Now. Flames rippled like curtains up the walls, spread black smoke and choking gas in swirls and lashes that burned her throat and stung her eyes.

Don’t stand up – she remembered that, at least, as she bellied out over the remnants of what was once going to be her first attempt at Greg’s favourite soup. If she got out, if she survived, she’d never try it again. Never cook again. If she got out of here, it’d be take-away. Maybe forever.

First she had to get out. The front door was blocked by the horizontal wind of red and yellow and white and blue flame that roared towards the small gap between the door and the main wall. The one window she always left open to get a cross-breeze, to blow out the kitchen smells. Now it fed the fire.

The back door was locked. It was always locked when she was home on her own. The news was always advising people to lock their doors, even while they were at home. Her hand reached up – skin blistered and fizzed and flames before it got halfway to the small catch. The security frame of the upper part of the door melted and fell, part of it on her hair.

The acrid smell, the choking sensation in her throat, a searing panic that told her to get up, to run, to hide, to get out, out, out – Candy rolled into a ball, tucked the burned hand inside the curl, and rolled all her weight into the door.

Nothing happened. She peeked out. The door was still melting – only one of the three hinges remained. She had one option. One. The only one. The belly crawl was slow, too slow, but she moved away, curled up again, and aimed herself. Burled and hurled and threw her whole weight against the door.

The crash was horrendous. The cold air burned more than the flames. The noise of screeching and screaming – it was her. The roar of the flames deadened all other sound until the roof collapsed.

Candy realised she was still on her belly, still crawling, trying to get away. The house caved in with a whoosh and crash that blew dust and ash and flames into the surrounding trees, into the pool – the pool! – she dragged and slid and pulled her body into the pool. Looked up. At the black smoke against the blue sky. Opened her mouth to breath. Chlorine stung her throat worse than the smoke. Tears poured down her face like acid.

The hand she raised from the water wasn’t red, wasn’t blistered. It was a stump of black that looked just like the ham-hock that blew the lid off the pressure cooker. Her stomach coiled as she recognised it as part of herself. Looked further down her body. The clothes she’d been wearing were gone. Only black soot, raw skin, goo and bloody trickles in the water.

Vomit burst from her throat as the burly arms reached for her, but she couldn’t lift her own, couldn’t lift herself to move towards him. His face was drawn, his eyes puckered, his pity clear and loud. It must be bad if a fire-y can’t stand to look at it.

Her mother always said cooking was a dangerous pastime.


Copyright Cage Dunn 2017

 

The Shocking Toilet

A jolt from the black sky, a zag of lightning that hit the metal tip of the broken weather-vane on the toilet door. Gem’s hand wasn’t quite on the handle. Almost, but not quite. Risa squealed when Gem looked up and tried to move away, as she took her hand off the door. Stepped back.

It didn’t stop the bolt of lightning as it pounded through the ironwork that held the old door together – and blasted out to meet the skin of her rapidly withdrawing hand.

The flash of energetic light from metal to skin felt like … like … Risa didn’t know a word for it, but the sense of power in the air, the smell of singed flesh and ozone, the scream of agony that cut off into the silence of the raging black thunderstorm as Gem disappeared into the darkness in a tumble of chaotic movement.

It was Risa’s fault of course, because she always needed to go to the toilet after dark. The toilet was outside and had monsters and she held on and held on and held on – until she was ready to burst. Like tonight.

Sharing a bed with Gem was better than sharing with the others. At least Gem would wake up when the wriggles started. She’d wait a while to see if the wriggles stopped.

“You’re like a wild mouse,” she’d say when she grabbed the hand and escorted the cross-legged wriggler to the outback, long-drop dunny. And then she’d check to make sure no monsters were hiding, and hang onto the door to keep it open so nothing could sneak up from any direction. Gem kept Risa safe outside, not like the others, the tormentors.

Another flash, followed by the boom. The ground shook. Risa shook on the timber seat, trembling so hard her teeth clattered louder than the hail on the tin roof. She should get up to help Gem, but her hands wouldn’t work; her feet were up around her waist as she sat like a toad on the hard seat.

Lightning didn’t touch wood, did it? She thought she remember someone said it didn’t, but the trees she’d seen blasted to splinters gave the lie to it being safe. She wasn’t safe, and Gem was lying on the ground. Dead.

Was that a groan? Yes! She leapt off the seat, pulled up her pants, leaned her head out into the roar of wind and rain and hail. Looked left and right-

Another crack. Risa ducked back inside. The pound in her chest was so loud she couldn’t tell if the boom came straight after or …

Her left hand reached for the door to pull it closed, to be safe, but she stopped herself just in time. Huddled into the corner behind the door.

Boom. The toilet seat crashed down. Risa jumped forward, stared at the blackness behind the seat – monsters! – and leapt outside. She leaned down and grabbed Gem by the arms and dragged, grunted and dragged and dropped. Wiped her face and hands, gripped the arms – don’t touch the burned one! – gripped harder, pulled backwards – get to the veranda – pulled and dragged and felt the stones as they dug into her feet and Gem’s pyjama bottoms.

They were gonna come off – didn’t matter. Pull, drag, grunt. Again. Dropped the arms to get a breath. Crack. Boom. Crunch. Lift, pull, drag, grunt. One step, one lunge, don’t look, just pull. Pull. Groan. Grunt.

Wait! That wasn’t Risa who groaned. That was Gem. She was alive! Get her out of the rain. Out of the lightning. Get help.

Risa tried to scream, tried to yell, but she didn’t have the breath for it. Nothing could stop her if she wanted to keep Gem alive. She had to, had to, had to get her to the safe place.

Pull, drag, grunt.


Fiction, based on a childhood memory.  Copyright Cage Dunn 2017

Yeeeee-haaaaaa

Finally, a word that is truly mine from the Daily Post! Cranky! That’s me, you see. C-R-A-N-K-Y Critter.

Me. In a nutshell. A cranky critter.

The why is a thing that’s an excuse. The truth is more along the lines that I developed my character by fighting my way through insurmountable odds and surviving (my childhood). How? By showing the side that was tough, unbreakable, vengeful. And then I learned to use that outer visage to good effect. That mask became useful as a tool.

My name to most of my fosters over fifteen or so years? Sarge. Yep. As in the ‘Do Not Mess With Sarge’ adage. It’s not that I was tough, or a bully, or unreasonable. It was about the rules with the fosters. Follow the rules; do not break the unbreakable rules; negotiate changes to the other rules or suffer the consequences (this is where they learn to get what they want by gaining support from others – communication skills, social skills, etc.). But I had to run the show, and if you’ve ever had to deal with a dozen or so highly flammable teenagers in full dram mode, who have low self-esteem and problems with authority, you may understand how I used my ‘cranky’ to get them into a place where they had a sense of ownership. Yep. Personal Power.

And I learned it all through the ‘look’ and the ‘feel’ and the ‘act’ of cranky. The look does it first – that tilted head with the eyebrows slanted in towards the centre of the eyes, the single-line frown of slight disapproval that grows when the look is ignored. That moves onto the body language of hands on hips and one leg spread out for balance (the fighter stance, they learned later in martial arts training), and the lean in to show a slight measure of overbearing of the elder v. younger. The final piece, the enactment of the consequences of failing to respond to the first two – the act, which puts out the possible cost of ignoring the rule, the potential for loss of something they wanted more than to win this particular round of belligerence.

After a period of time in the household, they learned that ‘Sarge’ was a mask, and that they could use their own mask to ‘fake it til you make it’ in situations in their life. They learned to protect themselves through the gaining of skills in self-defence and negotiation. They learned to not judge the person by the mask – the hardest lesson of all.

Most of the world lives and breathes their relationships by understanding what a person’s unspoken language is saying. Usually, it’s all wrong (their understanding, that is) because they look only at the outer, and don’t take the time to discover the ‘why’ of the mask.

Those kids had no choice. They’d survived until they came to my place, sometimes barely and always in a state of emotional damage that would take years or even a lifetime to work through, and now they had to learn that to survive isn’t a singular thing. Only community can offer true survival.

That was the lesson. Be more than one and you have a chance. Be part of the whole and become whole. Look past and beyond the mask to find the path to a heart. That’s where you find home.

Thank you for putting up ‘my’ word!

 

A Word or Two

He couldn’t think of a single thing to say – and now the moment was gone. It would have taken one word, maybe two, to get her to turn around and … and …

Aren turned back to the slush of freshly stamped and addled dirt that surrounded the new grave.

His wife of ten years lay at the bottom of that hole. And his only child lay with her. His wife’s family had stood on the far side of the hole, looking down with tears, and up with rage.

One word; if he could have said one word, would it have made a difference? Her mother’s stiff back and rigid facial muscles said far more than he could’ve broken through.

It was his fault, and they knew it.

Aren took a step closer to the mound. One more, but his feet dragged and his hands lay stubbornly by his side. His mouth hung open, absorbing all the moisture in the air.

One foot slipped in the grimy black mud that lay hidden under the mush of pounded grass.

So many people came. All stood on the one side – this side – and he stood alone on the other. Aren was always alone. Until he met Seza. His life and soul were bound up in her, and he became someone simply because he was loved.

A man who came to be a man through the trials of loneliness. Orphanages and foster homes, streets and gangs, crime sprees and forced holidays. Until Seza. Who turned his life around the moment she looked in his eyes.

The family said he didn’t deserve her. That she deserved better, more, anything other than him. The invites to family gatherings didn’t ever have his name on the card. Seza dragged him along to some, but most he stayed away.

His life taught him that enemies that were also family were the most dangerous. And it had proved true again. It had cost him the only thing of value in his life.

Maybe he should give them what they really wanted; what they’d planned for. His left hand reached down into his pocket, through the gap to the leather strap around his leg. Two fingers and thumb slid the handle up into his palm. It warmed in his hand.

One more step and he stood on the side of the grave where her family and friends had stood. Where all the ground was pitted and filled with ice-rimmed puddles. A hard lump stuck in his throat and he tried to swallow it away, but it wouldn’t go. It stayed.

Aren shook his head. This was not his side. This was not the way he’d finish it. He dragged his heavy body around the mound to stand on the uphill side and look down at the goat-tracks of the people who’d gone, the people who said they loved her and would do anything for her, the people who’d killed her when they’d meant to kill him.

The crash was investigated, of course, because the family had connections. The damage was deliberate; he was a mechanic.

Aren didn’t respond to any of it because he knew. When he looked at their faces, he knew. It had been his day to take the vehicle to the airport to pick up the packages for her business. Aren was supposed to be driving when the vehicle reached the top of the Devil’s Elbow descent.

Seza took their daughter, wanted to show her the beauty of the sunrise over the low-lying plain where the airport lay. Wanted to show her a joy of life: a new day.

The knife rose in the air, almost of its own accord, lifted to horizontal, moved closer to his throat. The slit was right to left – he was a cacky-hander, something they’d forgotten when they’d sliced through the line, which was cut left to right.

But vengeance would not be his. Aren didn’t care enough now. This moment was all he had. It was a timely end to his grief. And this way, he wouldn’t be alone, ever again.

Copyright Cage Dunn 2017

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Caged

from Dogs N Cats N Us

One dog came to the front of the cage as he walked past. He’d walked and scanned each occupant for suitability. Only this one came up. One dog. Tiny. A tiny, little dog with deep dark eyes and pointed ears and an upright tail.

Drago flipped up the face of the ticket on the cage. Timid? Not this dog. Not suitable for children. Was she a biter? Breed: Tenterfield Terrier. Terriers were smart, weren’t they? Noisy, yappy, diggers? He didn’t know enough.

Such a tiny little dog. Too small. If he held his hand out flat, it could stand there quite comfortably. It would be – like everyone else – intimidated by him; afraid. He needed a big dog, a man’s dog, a real dog.

Drago continued down each aisle. Dogs of so many different shapes and sizes and colours. They all barked and ran and jumped up at other people, but not for him. None of them came to the front of the cage when he walked up. Not one.

It took a long time, but he walked back down every aisle, looked into every cage on his way through, then turned around and went back. He reached the cage where the tiny dog was. Where he thought she’d been. A young girl was in the cage with a hose and a broom, cleaning. No dog.

He checked the ticket. Right place. The same tag.

The dog was gone. He was too late. Someone else had got it.

Drago fell to his knees. He didn’t realise until the crack of bone on concrete. A big lump stuck in his throat, sank down into to his chest, froze on the way down to his belly to sit like an iceberg.

“You okay, mate?” the young girl stood with the hose in one hand while the other twirled the water off. “Mister?”

Drago looked up. He felt dizzy, drained.

“The dog,” he managed through a mouth that didn’t work properly. “The dog?”

“Yeah, here she is – just scared of hoses and water, so she hides under there.”

The large bundle of blankets at the back of the stall moved, slid down as the pointed nose emerged. Ears erect, bright eyes open as she tilted her head; one second and she ran to the front of the cage and licked at his hand caught in the wire.

“I think she’s yours, mate. She hasn’t come to the front for anyone else. Most people scare the life outta her. She’s had a tough life.”

That meant she was the perfect dog for Drago. Two peas from very different pods, and now pack.

The girl opened the cage gate and Drago leaned over and scooped her up.

“We’ll go home now, shall we, friend?”

pepsi-oct-2010-shed


 

Copyright Shannon Hunter 2017

The Things They Do For Us

All my life has involved one, two, three and sometimes many more animals, either as pets, or working animals, or farm animals, or friends. And one or two (many) were the healers.

The dog who showed a young boy how it was safe to be touched (just a little, and with rules!), the cat who slept by the head of the young girl and purred and comforted until the restless and terrified mind could drift into sleep, the old horse who protected chickens because her friend in the wheelchair wanted it – it goes on and on and on.

The things they do for us, and only because it’s what we want or need.

At the same time I was a foster carer for humans, I was also a foster carer for non-humans: dogs, cats, pups, kittens, rabbits, horses, chickens, goats, sheep, snakes, birds (got the scars to prove the sulphur-crested – and so has the white cat), even some non-approved animals who decided to live in a burrow under our house [as an aside, when I got the builder in to strengthen the foundations without disturbing the wombats – he did it for cost only]. It’s possible I’ve missed some out. There were lots.

And there were times when we couldn’t save them – too much pain and harm and damage – but we did what we could to make their life feel as safe as possible. We didn’t give up on them – the foster humans saw the need in these abused animals and connected. Sometimes, this is what saved the human; sometimes, it was enough to also save the animal (I’m speaking mind here; we didn’t ever put an animal down or get rid of it for the sole reason of being difficult or afraid or unsocial).

Because if an animal has been through that and can learn to love again, learn to trust and hope – we all can, can’t we? And if it takes a long time, that’s what it takes, isn’t it?

And the issue of fostering – well, I didn’t get to give them back, did I? If one of the kids bonded with that animal – well, that’s pack, and pack doesn’t get booted out. Packs stays. Do you think there was ever a foster (animal) that didn’t bond to one of the fosters (there were a LOT of fosters)?

The fosters learned through contact with others who’d been through the same terror. They learned that the life they left behind wasn’t normal, even if it had become normalised while they were in it.

With the love of an animal who’d suffered, they learned how to heal, not only in themselves, but in the giving of healing to others.

They learned about pack, about family; that blood is only blood, and pack (family) is loyalty, protection, safety, and love without obligation. So they made their own pack family, and they made the rules of pack (some safe zone discussion involved in creating those rules).

That’s all it took to heal. Connection.


As an aside [another one] the short stories in dogs n cats n us is NOT from the foster times – I promised to never reveal any of their stories unless they approved, or the owner of the story was [  ], or I did it for myself only. The short stories I put into it are all from other areas, and semi-fictitious.


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