by Bruce Myers
A drama-like story featuring mental illnesses and hardships, including a surprise or two!
A series of short stories by Bruce Myers
#1: Snow's Flowers
Hello, my name's Chris. I'm 15, and I'm a dragon-wolf (or wolf-dragon) with red fur and purple eyes. Even though my scales are hidden under fur, I can do everything a dragon can do. I can breathe fire and fly, but I can also be a placid wolf and howl to the moon or even hunt. Today, I went down to an antique flower shop and bought some flowers for me and my mate, Snow, to plant.
Snow is my mate. Yes, we are both males, but we have a good relationship with each other. He is quite simply a wolf with white fur and blue eyes. He is about the same height as me, but his fur is really thick. He also has a long tail and sharp claws. I first met him a year or two ago when Snow and I lived in the same neighborhood. I would go over to his house and hang out in his backyard with him. We would talk all day and occasionally play hide and seek. I continued to meet him in his backyard until one day, he wondered if I could join him in a sleepover. He asked his parents and they said yes! He ran back to me as fast as he could and was moving in place once he stopped, wagging his tail. He was smiling, and said: "You can spend the night, Chris! You can go get your stuff now if you want to!" He was still moving in place and now was slightly exhausted, as I could tell from the sweat droplets on his face. I told him I would go get my stuff, but as I walked away, silence had joined us. Wind was the only sound present here. It felt like he had changed his expression on his face while I was walking away...as if he didn't want me to leave. I look back only to see him watching a dandelion, as the wind blew its petals away.
I return and Snow's already inside, so I just assume I can walk into his house as he did. The house was a small trailer house with a comfy living room. There was a wrap-around couch and a coffee table in the middle of the room, with a flat-screen TV on the wall. It seemed that the TV was never turned on. As I analyzed the couch, I noticed it was leather and that there were marks on it. Claw marks. Did someone scratch it up? If that's the case, why? I dismissed the thought and looked to my right, to see Snow's room.
His room was comfy too! There was a galaxy pattern bed; an old, wooden dresser that served no purpose; and an enormous window that made the room life-like with all the reflections.
The carpet in here was what I expected: musty and smelly. When I walked on it, I could feel moisture everywhere. But, once again, I saw another obscure detail. A hole in the wall. The hole was small, but deep. It had perfect geometry and was creating little cracks around itself. Is all of this damage...Snow's doing? "Pretty nice, right?" Snow asks. I am suddenly ripped back into reality from his question. "Yeah...I guess. I mean, I live in a small trailer house too, but yours is...a little nicer than mine," I said.
"I am just h-hoping you don't notice too much h-h-here."
"Hm...well, what are we waiting for? You want me to join you on your bed?"
Snow's stuttering. Why is he stuttering? I jumped on his bed and immediately sank into it. It was comfortable, but maybe I am somehow too heavy for it? "Don't worry, that only happens because of the bed-frame. It's...a little unstable at times. H-hm," Snow exchanged. "Well, is there anything you want to talk about?" I asked.
"There's a lot I want to talk about," Snow jumps off his bed and starts pacing the room, "I...I...I h-haven't been myself lately. Around you."
"What do you mean, Snow?"
"Well, I haven't been honest to you. I was...a-a-afraid to tell you how I really am. I...I...I lied to you."
"YES! I didn't want you thinking I am a cub or pup! I just..."
Snow was crying at his door, slowly dropping his head down, letting the tears roll. I jumped down from the bed and walked to him, grabbing his left paw. "Snow...I'll give you a chance to tell me everything. I am not upset, nor am I angry. If you have something to say, say it," I whisper. Snow suddenly pounces forward and gives me a tight hug, with his face in my chest. "Thanks," Snow mumbles.
After giving Snow comfort knowing he can tell me what he wants to tell me, we jump on the bed and he begins his story: "So...so...so, I have anxiety. This whole time, I've been playing myself as a happy, collected wolf, but I am not one. I have trouble in my life. You see, my dad...dad...he's a drinker. An alcoholic. He's had trouble with it ever since. He can be happy one minute, but then he lashes out in anger...at me. It hurted me, Chris! It did! Really! I just...wish he was better, and not some DIRTY DRINKER!
"Sorry...I just let myself get too emotional. It happens all the time when you're like me, dealing with a-anxi-iety. It makes me fear things I never would. It makes me avoid so many things, especially my d-d-dad. I'm sorry. Anyway, I've dealt with other things beyond this that can be certain triggers for me. Like loud noises. I don't like them. They freak me out, because they stop my oasis I have, in a matter of seconds. It's...scary. But you're different. I trust you, Chris. I really do. You make me calm down in tense situations and bring joy to me. I thank you for it. You can comfort me...make me think rationally when I need it. T-t-thanks!"
Snow started crying again. On his last word, he cut himself off. I stepped towards him and wiped off a tear and rested his head on my paw and angled it towards my face. "I...I am glad I am helping you. You're...such a nice person, you know. You've helped me think about certain things a different way too," I say. Snow gives me a smile and gives me another hug. I never knew I would be earning love from such a broken heart.
The rest of our night was joy and laughter. We read some books, played I Spy, and talked about our lives more. It wasn't until before we fell asleep that I said something I never expected myself to say. "I love you, Snow." Snow responded with: "I love you too, Chris."
Anyway, time to jump into the present! Ever since that night...what I said...we've decided to be in a relationship with each other. We now live in a small neighborhood simply named Woodland Inn. It's a neighborhood with a couple roads connected to each other and a bunch of colorful houses with their own backyards. Each house looks like a trailer house, but with more length. When you go inside, there's more space in front of you rather than to the side. I'm approaching the door to our house, but walking slowly to appreciate its beauty. It has a yellow exterior with the classic wooden boards and two perfectly sized windows. The door is at the right side of the house, slightly off the edge. I open the door to see Snow sleeping on the couch as usual. Our couch is grey, and so is our coffee table and carpet flooring. We haven't really decorated our house much yet, as we've only been here for about 4 months, but we're working on it. The only things we have on the walls are some pictures of our families. Strangely enough, Snow looks frightened in all of his pictures. I sit down on the couch next to Snow and set the bag of flower seeds on our coffee table.
"Snow...wake up, sleepyhead!" I tease. I'm tickling him while also simultaneously shrugging him. He groans and finally wakes up. "Chris...I was having a good nap. This couch is surprisingly comfortable, you know," Snow mumbles. He manages to get himself to sit up and then looks at the bag on the coffee table with curiosity. I bring the bag onto the couch so that Snow can get a good look. Snow squeals when he sees the seed packets inside. "You got mums! I really like those, Chris!" Snow exclaims.
"I know you do, Snow. You told me you wanted to get these flowers as a Christmas gift, but they weren't in season at the time, so I made up for it."
"I just thought of something. I feel like I haven't grown up."
"Snow, you have! I mean, we both work a job and have our own house at a generous rent. It is nice...but what's been in that head of yours?"
"Just think about it...I just keep bursting out in anger at everything and don't really control my emotions. I just let myself loose. I don't want to do that, but I keep doing it! How could I possibly be growing?"
"Hm...Snow, let's go plant the flowers."
"What? Why? Are you just IGNORING ME?"
"Snow, trust me. You'll understand."
. . .
As Snow and I finish planting the flowers, the sun is starting to set and the wind is as strong as ever. Snow is covered in patches of dirt while I am spotless. I look to my right and Snow is sweating, but he's also shaking a little. I scratch his right ear for a little bit and then he looks at me with a smile on his face. He does a gesture to signify he's okay: a little wag of his tail. (Up, down.) Snow then looks at the flowers with worry. "Are the flowers going to be okay, Chris?" Snow asks. "That's what I want to talk about," I responded. "You see, these flowers are going to grow like you do. They deal with hardships in their life. They can experience a rough rainstorm with lots of water in their system, or extreme heat. But no matter what, they'll get through it and grow up in the end. They become stronger. I get that you mostly sit at home all weekend and just go to work with me on the weekdays, but whenever we go out somewhere to do something awesome, you overcome a fear or too. You grow! Remember when you rode the zipline for the first time?"
"I...I-I do. I was scared...but then I did it, and it was so fun! So exhilarating!"
"See what I mean? You're still growing just like these flowers do!"
"But...I'm not...ok, whatever you say, Chris."
"That's my Snow!"
When we finally went inside, Snow immediately took a bath. I guess he must really dislike the dirt and the general aroma that has formed around his body. I just chuckled and jumped up onto the couch. Thankfully, it's easy for Snow and I to jump on the couch or anything since we're quite big. I sit upright on the couch and just listen to the sound of the water hitting the tub, followed by the splashes of water.
I dozed off and was suddenly awoken by Snow. I started blushing a little because he decided to flick my ear. It's a good tactic to wake anyone of us awake, but it was uncalled for! Another reason I was blushing was because his fur had become extra soft, beyond fluffy. He also just smelled great. "Hey there, sleepyhead!" Snow mocked. (He stole my line!) He was scratching my ear, but quickly pulled his hand away when I sat back up. "You smell great. I guess you must really be ready for bed now, huh?" I asked. "Yeah, I sure am. What's the weather tonight?" Snow responded.
"Well...we've got a rainstorm coming in. A chance of lightning."
"L-L-Lightning? Chris, you know I don't like-"
"You'll be fine, Snow. Like the flowers, you'll get through it."
"Bu-fine. Sure, I'll get through it. Just...like...the flowers."
Snow jumps off the couch, slowly walking to his room with his ears down. Is he okay? I know I might have just made him upset because I didn't think about the fact he will probably freak out tonight. I mean, lightning is loud, so of course he's going to start getting nervous. His anxiety is going to kick in...please don't have a panic attack.
. . .
CRASH! I jumped out of sleep. I quickly look at the window to see that it is raining outside. The rain was quite loud tonight. I was now assuming that we were having a severe rain storm, plus lightning! I took a deep breath and thought about the situation for a moment. The rain is relaxing for you. You aren't scared, it can't hurt you--wait, did I just hear a howl? I opened my eyes and zoned myself out, making the rain turn into silence. HOWLLLLLL! I heard it again, but why is it so loud? Why does it sound so close? Once I think about it, I suddenly feel a sense of dread. My eyes become wide and I immediately jump off my bed and open the door. No. There's. NO. Way. I walk to Snow's bedroom door and listen closely. Need to make sure...it isn't him.
I only dread this moment so much because I hate seeing Snow panic. Not because it's wimpy, but because it's hard to watch. To watch him break down in a matter of five seconds is terrifying. It happened once at the zipline, but I won't go into detail. I open the door and see a poor Snow crunched in the corner of his room. He's shaking violently; his breathing heavy; his head's dropped down; and howling. CRASH! I try to go as slow as I can towards Snow. When Snow's in panic mode, he can get startled easily or even be agitated. "I-I-I'm fine...everything's...fine!" Snow exclaims. His voice is very raspy and barely recognizable. As I am approaching him, he looks up and howls again, then gets ready to pounce at me. He's angry. Talk it out, he's scared. "Snow...it's me, Chris. I just want to help you through this. Here, I'll stay right here," I whisper. The rain is so loud and powerful over the commotion. I stand still, keeping my ground.
Snow starts to growl and bark at me, but then he stops and realizes who I am. He walks toward me, stops in front of me, and starts to cry again. I give him a little pat on the back and scratch his ear again. "There, there...let's go somewhere that's not as loud," I say. I lead Snow to the bathroom. I believe it's the quietest place in the house because I can't even hear the rain in here. I help Snow calm down by telling him to take deep breaths. I join him in the exercises and check his pulse. His pulse is fast, but is starting to steady and slow down just a little bit. He starts wobbling in place and he ends up falling into my arms. I gasp. Is he having a heart attack? But my fear is settled when he pushes himself back up and looks at me and gives a smile.
"What's wrong, Snow?" I ask.
"Well...I...I...I'm scared of the lightning, Chris. What if it strikes me? What if the power goes out?" Snow babbles.
"Calm down, calm down...it's okay. Snow, this will be over soon, okay? You'll be safe, I promise. Deep breaths like earlier. 1, 2, 3."
We take a few deep breaths together. I check Snow's pulse again. His heart has finally steadied. His breathing has steadied too. Thank god, I thought we were going to have a long one like the zipline. This only ended because of me, didn't it? I didn't notice until now that Snow's eyes were bloodshot the entire time this was happening. "You feel better?" I ask. "A little bit. I still feel dizzy. I think...I think...I think I can handle the rain now, just like you can. The lightning won't hurt me because we're safe in this house, like you said. It might be loud, but it can't hurt me here," Snow recites.
"You think you'll be okay in your bedroom?"
"Can...can you at least be with me there, Chris?"
"Of course I can. You need your sleep, too!"
I join Snow in his room, sitting up in his room on his bed and letting him sleep on me. CRASH! Surprisingly, Snow doesn't jump like he did the first couple times. He just sleeps, just as he should. I pat his head and finally let myself sleep, knowing Snow can sleep too.
. . .
After a couple weeks and some rain storms along the way, the flowers finally grew. In the process, Snow grew too. Even though I was with him during the storms, he learned to confront his fear and overcome it. There was even one night he slept through the whole thing! I was so proud of him!
This morning, we went out and looked at our flowers. Snow was so excited when he saw the mums and all their different petals. The flower's petals just spread in all directions with excitement. But then Snow stopped and looked at me. "Chris...what you said was right. The flowers grew no matter what, and I grew too. I grew up no matter if there was a lightning storm or if there was loud rain! I'm proud...but what will we do now?" Snow asked.
"Well, we'll tend to them as long as we can. Make sure they stay alive," I say.
"Let's hope it lasts a while! I'll make sure they get everything they need!" Snow gives the flowers a fake hug and we laugh for a minute.
. . .
I decided to be with Snow in his bedroom tonight. I got myself a little palette on the floor and laid down to get sleep. But later that night, I was woken up by a growl. I look up to Snow's bed to see that he's growling and clenching the bed sheet with his claws, tearing it.
To be Continued...
Story #2: "Anger's Power"