It's time again!
This weekend's got a new story from Taylor - or the first part of a story, at least.
That's right, she's back on schedule - every two weeks, and I'm so happy for it!
Of course, she's teasing all of us with this partial story stuff, but...maybe, just maybe, she'll give us a microfiction one of these days.
Hey, a girl can hope!
"Paul, get down here!"
Paul jumped at the bellowed summons. Moon jumped too, lifting her head from her front paws. Paul looked over at her, setting his mother's book on the bed.
"What do you think he wants?"
Moon shrugged, her thick white fur rising and falling with her shoulders.
"I hope it's about me and not you." Her words were soft, intended for Paul’s ears only.
Paul took off his father's reading glasses and placed them and the book into a little black box that sat opened in front of him. After closing the box and locking it shut, he ran his hand over the silver lettering that read, "Mom & Dad: Memories"
Moon rose to her feet, shook herself off, and walked to Paul, laying her massive head in his lap. Paul sniffed and stroked her head at the same time the voice from downstairs called,
Together the boy and his dog padded down the hall.
Paul liked the house. He liked the way the smell of cooking food lingered in the hallways, the way the sunrays streamed through the peach colored curtains, the way the soft carpet and furniture were all warm colors. The house would be perfect if it weren't for Amos and his wife. Actually, Rosa treated Paul fairly well when she wasn't siding with her husband. She was, however cruel to Moon, throwing her outside in the blistering heat and scolding her for things she often didn't do, things Amos blamed on her.
Moon's claws clicked softly against the warm chestnut floor. Paul's bare feet made no sound. The stairs creaked under their weight. They found Amos, sitting in the living room. He was drunk. Pual could see that in the empty beer cans scattered on the coffee table. Moon could smell the alcohol on Amos' breath despite the distance. The fur on the back of her neck stood at attention. Paul stood uneasy in the doorway, wringing his hands, his eyes locked on his fingers.
A swig of beer, a quiet burp, a creak in the rocker.
"Take a look at what your damn dog did to my slippers!"
He pointed to a pair of bedroom slippers, chewed and ruined, near the leg of the coffee table. Moon hadn't done that. Paul knew she hadn't. Not only was she a well-behaved dog, but an honest dog.
"Raccoons," she whispered, her icy eyes not leaving Amos. "I can smell them."
The boy believed her. He'd seen the creatures scavenge the neighbor's trash bins and had no doubt that the animals discovered the doggy door in the laundry room of the house.
"What did you say, boy?" Amos growled.
Paul flinched. Moon's eyes fixed on Amos now, her hackles rigid, a low growl escaping her throat. Paul swallowed, rested his fingers on Moon's ear, and spoke up so no harm would come to his dog.
"I said she didn't do it, sir. Moon is a good girl."
He glanced down at her, saw her rigid frame, and stroked her ear with his thumb and middle fingers. She didn't calm. Her boy's growing anxiety only made her focus on Amos stronger. She was frozen in place, ready to lunge if Paul needed her protection. Amos took another gulp, finishing off the cans. He threw It to the floor and stood unsteady. His words were slurred now.
"What about that?"
He pointed to something behind Paul. Paul looked over his shoulder, his eyes immediately glimpsing the knocked over trash bin, his nose finally registering the scent of sour milk and old food instead of his own fear. His eyes found Rosa as well. She stood cooking in the kitchen, completely oblivious to Paul's fear, to Amos' anger, to Moon's rising tension. She hadn't even bothered to clean up the mess.
Paul turned back to Amos, coming to the conclusion that both he and Rosa had been expecting him to clean up the garbage on the floor, the mess they accused Moon of making. And it only made him angry.
"She didn't do that either." Paul said, raising his voice a little. "Moon doesn't dig through trash!"
Amos stiffened. Moon could sense his anger building. She let out a growl of warning, stepping between him and her boy. Amos stepped forward, stumbling and raising his hand as if to strike Paul.
Moon didn't hesitate. She lunged. She knocked Amos to the floor, snarling and snapping, her muzzle just inches away from his nose. Rosa ran in from her spot at the sink, yelling.
"Get that mutt off of him!"
Paul stood frozen in fear as Rosa grabbed Moon by the collar, pulling her back. Moon resisted, barking viciously and forcing herself forward. Rosa strained. She was sweating. By the time she was able to pull Moon away, Paul could finally move again. He grabbed Rosa by the arm, neglecting all manners his parents instilled in him, and tugged with all his might.
"Let her go!"
Moon was panting now, gasping for air though she continued to snarl.
"You're hurting her!" snapped Paul.
Rosa pushed him to the floor and dragged Moon to the front door, her claws scraping the hardwood floor. With a grunt, Rosa threw the dog out, slamming it shut. Crying, Paul staggered to his feet.
"What are you doing?" he shouted.
The light outside was dying. Paul could see it through the thin white curtains.The snow had been falling all day, and though Moon had a thicker coat than most dogs, she'd never spent a frigid night outdoors. When he rushed to the door to open it again, Rosa grabbed him by the arm.
"He stays outside!" she yelled.
Outside, Moon barked. She clawed at the windows, desperate to protect her boy as Rosa pulled him to the tiny laundry room at the back of the house.
"Moon is a girl!" Paul said, struggling to pry Rosa's fingers from his forearm. "And she didn't do anything!"
Disoriented, Amos stood up, holding his head.
"She attacked him!" Rosa yelled back. "She stays outside until she learns to behave!"
"She didn't bite him!" Paul snapped.
He was thrown into the small room, the door slammed and locked behind him. He pulled on the doorknob. He banged on the wood until his fist burned. He slumped to the floor against the dryer when his efforts were exhausted, and cried into his folded arms. He missed his mother. He missed his father. Most painfully, he missed his dog.
Moon entered through the dog door. She whimpered, her fur shiny with delicate ice crystals. Paul looked up, saw his girl, his best friend, his loyal companion, standing in front of him.
Paul didn't say anything. He wrapped his arms around her and sobbed into her neck.