by Silly Waimin
A subject of abuse is not always what you think.
| Birds were softly twittering in the breeze, making the air around me an elegant musical which I was seldom allowed to hear. The dancing of the trees surrounding the path provided a smooth bass line, and I began to jog, the slight scuff of my strides contributing to the soundtrack of my temporary freedom. The faster I went the more the breeze moved through my strands, weaving in between each other as they rushed into the party, the sound like a slight swishing of skirts a sign of how much they were enjoying the fun. I breathed deeply and felt the fresh air caressing my nose, realizing that I had forgotten the its pure, sweet nature. The sun connected with my heart, a warmth growing from within until it spread to every tip of me. I jogged past songs of flowers and inviting soft green dance floors, and I never wanted to leave. It was bliss.
Soon we were back. The tender yet total enjoyment of walking outside and feeling the sun warm my body, the thrill of the breeze through my hair, the landscape stretching off into the distance challenging me to just go, all locked behind me as usual. The part of my soul that still desired to feel emotion made a halfhearted attempt at sadness and simply died. I wasn’t ready to be back, but the choice was not mine to make. It was foolish to think he would relax his hold on me.
I heard the door lock behind me, the gentle click sending a chill that started in my spine and, as though unsatisfied, slipped through me until I felt ice in my skin, stealing the last of the warmth the sun had blessed me with. I have dreams sometimes, where I’m walking down a dimly lit hallway to a looming door but right before I get there, I hear the soft click of the lock. The hallway then swiftly stretches, the door careening away with it, while others crop up on either side of me until I’m surrounded by leering brown doors on both sides that continue into the distance and as I walk I just start to hear click….click…click..click-click-click-click-click and then I’m running to try to get to a door before it locks on me and I just keep running and running as the click-click-click gets louder and faster and I start whimpering and then I wake up, the cacophony of clicks still compounding in my ears.
He will usually bark at me to stop being so restless at that point, but sometimes the laughter of the clicks is still so loud I can’t understand a word.
We shuffled from the dank, urine colored entryway into the decrepit kitchen, a few stubborn flies buzzing around the mess in the sink while he coughed and banged a few plates around trying to find something for the microwave. My long silenced voice didn’t bother mentioning my bouncing questions about whether we could go out again soon, as the walls never completely stopped echoing his tantrums from every other time I spoke up. I put my head down and waited until he handed me what seemed to always be the same tasteless bowl, his hands smelling of alcohol and dark greasy hair plastered to his head. As always, once I had accepted my fate to be locked away from freedom I began to feel a bit better and even looked at him sometimes, seeing if I could get him to look at me, my brown eyes meeting his blue pupils that could…sometimes…be soft. I still hated him for creating this loneliness and isolation from the world, but the loneliness eventually got so deep that I still tried to love him, at least so I could have companionship. You aren’t truly lonely until you are lonely enough to love those you hate.
After dinner I met him in the living room, as we both settled down and were greeted by the same TV themes we had heard for the past two years. The shows aren’t really that entertaining anymore, but I had forged such a bond with the characters that seeing them was like seeing a cherished relative. I love to watch the shows for the scenery; sometimes I’ll see a sparkling beach or velvet forest and think someday, but then remember that someday will probably never happen and I should stop hoping so I can stop being disappointed. After hours of dreary silence he motioned to the bedroom. There was an attempt at tenderness as he ran his hand over my body a few times before we headed there. I waited while he finished getting ready.
I heard a bird outside the window, its sweet song returning me to the happiness of the other world. The memory of my happiness coupled with the despair of my situation created a tidal wave of grief that washed over my heart and emanated from me in the form of a high pitched whine rising in intensity as it repeated itself, bouncing off walls that mockingly rang back at me. He yelled from the bathroom, soon rushing out in his familiar rage, grabbing me forcefully by the collar and picking me up to shake me like he often did when drunk. My collar digging into my throat cut off the whine, and I soon began to realize how wonderful even this putrid oxygen really was. “You stupid mutt!” he yelled as he shook me, my paws dangling in the air along with my broken will. He tossed me away, and as he settled into bed I quietly hoped to not dream about freedom. He certainly had no patience for my restlessness now.
The sun coaxed me awake the next morning and I laid still, trying to stay out of his way because he woke up late and was cursing as he was getting ready. The house echoed with the sound of his typical rage as drawers slammed shut and he crashed around in his haste to get to work. I shortly opted to quietly wait in the kitchen in case he did take the time to feed me so I wouldn’t have to hear my name yelled. The dry chunks never came. Finally, he gathered his things and ran out of the house. SLAM. Not until his car had fired up and pulled out that I realized there had been no click.
I froze. I could still feel the pressure of my collar digging in, the narrow leather cutting off my supply of the house’s dank oxygen as he threw me around the night before. I heard birds singing merrily outside. A memory of candy sweetness caressed my nose, tempting me, taunting me. I looked into the kitchen, thrust back into the smell of dust and the buzz of flies. I saw the living room beyond it, and the TV where I vicariously enjoyed freedom. There had never been a day without a click.
I bounded to the door and stood, my paws slipping on the smooth doorknob. I was scratching the door, both the excitement over the possibility of leaving and the fear of his coming home and finding the marks causing the scratching to become even more intense, more desperate, a scritch-scritch-scritch that made my ears burn. I fell back to all fours and immediately jumped up again, biting and scratching the doorknob until I heard a different soft click, the catch sliding slightly out of its hold. Never before had a click contributed to the music of freedom. I bit the doorknob and pulled my head back, the giddy glee of watching the world open before me temporarily overwhelming my senses so I heard nothing, smelled nothing, and saw only the bright light of the sun flooding my vision. The sweetness soon wafted in, the birds resumed their song with more enthusiasm than I had ever heard, and the world was vibrant, real, and open to me. I danced.