A Day in the Life

I loved every single day. The way we’d fight, the way we’d play.
The days we’d laze in the garden, the way we’d gaze up at the stars and,
Camp on summer nights in the den we built ourselves.
I say we, more he. But I supervised, and occasionally fetched a stick or two to keep the peace.
But we both enjoyed the adventure of our cave.

It was during a game of our beloved chase where I would run and he would race
To catch me, that my whole life changed in an instant. I had bounded down
The staircase, rounded the kitchen corner and thundered out the door before
I realised. He wasn’t following me.

I hopped back up the steps and leapt into the house,
Retraced my steps through the kitchen and my heart caught in my mouth.
He lay in a heap, at the bottom of the stairwell. I nudged him gently,
Then harder when he did not respond. He’s never pretended for this long
I thought as I nudged him again, trying to call out his name.

I never even got to bid him farewell.  I’d never felt such pain.

I howled as the painful realisation rattled through me.
I ran to our father’s study shouting, calling him to me.
I arrived at the door and he turned when he heard me speak,
I told him to follow and he rose from his seat. I shouted
And shouted and as I got to the stairs, my mother was there.
Her hand pressed over her mouth, sobbing silently.

My father ran to him, and dropped to his knees.
He began shaking him softly, but just as I had, he got no response.

He was gone.

I lay in the corner, curled in a ball, holding back tears
And the urge to just call, shout and scream out his name,
Because I knew that it wouldn’t revive his still frame.

People came, but I remained in my corner.
An aggrieved, solitary, sorrowful mourner.
I slept on his bed for days, once they’d taken him away.
I didn’t move for food, water or play.
They came, and they spoke like I didn’t know
What it was they were saying, like I was a ghost.
They said that my parents could no longer cope,
That they’d take me away to a place I could grow.
A place I’d be loved and a place to forget
The horror that happened at the bottom of the steps.
They carried me out to a car and I was too weak to fight, I tried with a kick and occasional bite,
But to no avail.
I watched out of the window as they drove to a place
I’d never call home and I’d never feel safe.
I was given a room, and a bed.
“A place to call your own and rest your head.” They’d said.
There were others just like me; at least that’s what I was told,
But no one was feeling so empty and cold. I’d lost my whole family
In a matter of days.  And they really think I want to go out and play?

I sat in the field, and watched the others run wild.
Knowing they were all somebody’s child.
As I imagined their stories, I noticed the gate.
And without hesitation took my chance to escape.

I ran, as fast I could without looking back. And to my relief they weren’t giving chase.
I remembered the route I had learnt when I came.
I followed the roads, as the sun disappeared and the stars brought back memories;
I swallowed the tears.
In the distance I could see a bright orange haze,
Intrigued by the glowing I picked up the pace.
Familiar houses and paths I once roamed began to assure me
I was getting closer to home.
I reached our long driveway, with the haze dead ahead,
I was now sickened with worry, as the sky burned with red.
As I neared the house, I noticed the flames,
Licking at the sky like the tongue of a snake.

My mother was slumped, crying out her heart,
On the gravel by the car but, there was no sign of my father.
I shouted loud for help, and then charged at the door.
My mother screamed “No!” but I ignored her roar.
I ran to the study, avoiding the flames,
Coughing from the smoke as I called father’s name.

I reached the study and pushed open the door,
My father lay lifeless, in a heap on the floor.
I grabbed him by the collar, and pulled with all my might,
He began to stir as I dragged him out into the night.

He coughed himself awake as I lay him next to mother, who kissed me on the head.
I they lay down on my side, trying hard to catch my breath.
I breathed in the cool air, my vision still clouded by fog,
But I guess that’s just a day in the life of a dog.

The End

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