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April 5th, 2003, 06:01 PM
Hi, everyone. I wrote something up where I use a voice that I've never used before, a style that I've never attempted and I'm wondering how well it comes across. I like to try new things, to try to grow and expand. I'd appreciate any comments you may have, both positive and negative. I will have to split it into two parts, of course....lol. Thanks in advance.

Part I

The sun rose and set on Daniel Caffey...at least in Daisy Miller's eyes. The whole town knew she was sweet on him. The whole town with one exception; Daniel had no idea. Daniel had no modesty, false or otherwise, no ego. He never saw himself as any one else did, never saw him as Daisy saw him. For if he did, he would have stayed as far away from her as humanly possible. The whole female population of Winding Springs longed to date him, or at the very least, spend a night with him. Daisy though, longed to be consumed by him. But Daisy, you see, was a dog...at least in this life.

Yes, you heard me correctly. Daisy was a 2-year-old yellow lab. She belonged to the Miller's, whose house was to the left of the Caffey place on Baker Drive, whose yard abutted theirs for 150 feet. There was no fence separating the two properties. In all truth, there wasn't a fence to be found in Winding Springs at all, at least back then. Things have changed somewhat. I think it was Mark Twain that said good fences make good neighbors. But not in Winding Springs, and not in Daisy's eyes.

Daisy belonged to the youngest Miller child, to a young girl all of seven summers. But little Jessica didn't have much time for Daisy, not as much as she had before she was enrolled in school, when Daisy had been first taken from her family and brought to live with them. No. Sadly, Jessica began spending most of her with Anne and Leslie Gerard, who lived to the right of the Miller house, in the other yard that ran along theirs, a much less friendly yard. The girls spent their afternoons playing with their dollies...something that Daisy just didn't understand. The only time they had any use for Daisy was when they wanted her to pull the little red wagon containing their myriad of dolls, when their little arms got too tired to pull it any further. Daisy chafed at the injustice of it, the humiliation of it and her eyes would search the Caffey yard, hoping to spy her friend, her true love, Daniel.

Now you may be wondering how I come to possess this knowledge, this inner view into the mind of a beautiful, yellow lab. You may even be questioning my sanity as I sit here in my rocking chair relating this far-fetched tale to you. I know I would be and had I not lived it, I would be scoffing right alongside with you. But I guarantee you, it's all true...every last word of it. Scout's honor.

For me, it all began in the summer of '72. My name was Pansy. Yes, was. But I'll get to that in a moment. Bear with me. It's not an easy tale to tell and trust me, I know it's not easy to believe, either. I was born to Marty and Misty...three pups ahead of Daisy. Are you ok? Do you need some water? No? You sure? That's a nasty cough...Ok, ok. I'll stop thumping your back. I knew that this wasn't going to be easy. But I'll get right down to it. I was Daisy's sister. I was a yellow lab.

Don't look at me like that. Please stay and listen to what I've got to say. It'll come together by and by. There were seven of us all in all. Only five of us made it past the first week. We were Misty's first litter you see and they always loose a few pups the first time around. Lost were Petunia, the runt, she never got the hang of feeding, and Rocky, who fell victim to some kind of infection. I'm not really sure what caused his death, I only know he suffered quite a bit before he found peace.

April 5th, 2003, 06:02 PM
...second half of that first part....

So, there we were...five of us young ones and a wonderful mom and a protective dad. We had a great childhood for a while, playing and laughing, or rather, barking and yipping in the big barn that was our home. We fed, we romped, we slept and then started the cycle all over again. But Daisy was special...she always was, she was born that way. There was a knowledge in her eyes that gave the rest of us pups pause. She would often just sit there staring off into space, oblivious to our antics, deaf to Mom calling us for dinner. What she was looking at, it would only be years later that I would fully understand...years later and a new form.

You're looking at me oddly again. I can see your scorn, your disbelief. I never promised that this would be easy to hear or understand. Bear with me a bit longer. Daisy? Ah, yes, Daisy. She was special, though to the rest of us she was merely different and therefore, strange, not a good fit. She played only sporadically, when she felt like it and after a fashion, we got tired of it, of her odd ways and would exclude her, even when she showed signs of true puppy-like behavior. I am ashamed to admit this, but we pushed her aside, we stopped making any moves to include her in anything. She was different. She was not one of us.

Life was good for a while, but there came a day when a strange couple entered our barn, someone other than the ones who brought that crunchy food and fresh water. With them came a young boy and they stood there for the longest time observing us play and lounge around. The little boy received a nudge from the taller man and the young lad stepped forward and sat down among us. Well, we didn't need any more encouragement. We loved new playmates and he had such kind looking eyes and a warm smile. We were upon him in seconds.

We jumped on him, licked every inch of his skin, nipped him. He giggled and squealed and tickled our bellies and scratched behind our ears. All of us fell in love with him...all of us except Daisy, who sat off to one side with her head tilted just so, staring back at us like we'd lost our ever loving minds. But she was not one of us, so we ignored her and went about our business. How long we played before a deep "Ahem" broke the silence, I have no idea. But the little boy stood and looked down at us intently, one by one. And then he bent down and picked Rhumba up and cuddled him to his chest.

That was the last we saw of Rhumba. We waited and waited for the threesome to come back into the barn, waited for Rhumba to come for dinner. But he never did. We learned the first of four painful lessons in separation that day. And Mom? She was beside herself, but she bounced back quickly. I guess that's what having four mouths to feed does to you. We still needed her and so she stayed strong. It was only during the night when we were supposed to be sleeping that we would hear her quiet whimpers break the silence of that drafty old barn.

A week went by, maybe two, before another family came into the barn. And wouldn't you know it? We still jumped all over the three children that sat down with us. We still licked and nipped and played and showed off, even though we all kind of knew that one of us would be leaving and wouldn't be coming back. Maybe we just put that part of it out of our minds; maybe we just chose to concentrate on the momentary pleasure of a new playmate to get through the afternoon. I do not know. Too bad it didn't last very long. Pudgy Brutus was taken from us that afternoon. And Mom's whimpers during the night, the whimpers that had finally stopped, started up again. They would not stop before Iris would be taken away two days later by a little girl in a gingham checked dress and a straw bonnet.

Our family was down to Mom, Dad, Daisy and me, Pansy. And Daisy clung to me and though I wanted to push her away because she was passing strange, I found I could not. She was all I had left. And I learned her ways during the next two weeks before I was taken from all that I had known and sent to live with a family on the outskirts of town, coincidentally enough, also on Baker Street. I learned two things from Daisy before it was my turn to leave that barn. One, that the world was a vast place full of new and exciting things and two, that Daisy was not like the rest of us, but that didn't make her bad. She would save my skin, pulling me out from under the wheels of a tractor just two days prior to me leaving the roost.

Daisy was special. And this was not a bad thing.

I was at my place on Baker Street for all of three days before Daisy's familiar bark filled my ears. I remember the feeling of euphoria that flooded me, the sense of rightness, the sense of family and home. I was still crying at night. Oh, I tried not to, tried desperately not to upset the family that was treating me so very well. I slept inside! On little Timmy's bed, curled up under his arm. I ate gourmet meals of that crunchy food mixed with mouth watering, savory gravy and soft mushy bits and pieces. I had never had it so good before and I was beginning to realize that I didn't want to go back to that barn. I missed Mom and Dad, yet I didn't want to go back, didn't want to give up what I had. But the nights were the hardest...until Daisy moved in across the street.

I did mention that there were no fences in Winding Springs, didn't I? Well, there wasn't. And people didn't keep dogs all caged up as they do now. Winding Springs was a small town; a family community and most of the dogs had free rein. We ran Winding Springs, though not a human alive around those parts would dare admit it...they still won't. I still won't. Aaah. You're getting that look again. For a moment, I thought you were swinging my way. But, alas, I see that I have some more convincing to do. Not to worry. You'll believe me before too long.

Ok. Ok. Back to the story before I lose you completely. As I've said, there were no fences and that meant that Daisy and I were able to meet and mingle and play and rejoice at having a part of our past in our presents, each other something to look forward to in our futures. Except that having no fences does occasionally mean something less pleasant, as was my case. I can't be sitting in front of you now, rocking in this old chair if my life as a dog had been perfect, now could I?

Well, I couldn't. And it wasn't. I remember the day clearly, as if it were yesterday and there are days when I actually think it was. Now, now, calm down. I know it wasn't. I'm not daft. The story may be crazy, but I'm not. Really, I'm not. As I was saying before your snort so rudely interrupted me, Daisy had gone to the doctor, to get "fixed" is the word they used. It's funny how you humans...excuse me? Oh, yes. My bad, us humans, don't believe that animals understand us. They understand so much more than we could ever possibly fathom. They do. I did. Trust me on this. I was so excited when Daisy was finally able to come outside again. I couldn't wait to play with her, to make sure that she was all right. I had gone through my "procedure" just two weeks earlier and I knew all too well how she must have been feeling. There's that look again. Hmpfh.

Anyway, I bolted across the yard, and, not bothering to look both ways, I continued out across the street. Daisy's sharp yelp was the only warning I got before I was broad sided, by what, I can only tell you it was a car. My life ended there on the hot pavement, Daisy's little pink tongue licking my face as I took my last breath.

The afterlife...Have you ever wondered about it? I mean, really gave it much thought? Well, I'm living proof that it's not what you may think it is, not what you are led to believe in Sunday school. I didn't see any lights...well, let me take that back. I did see a light; it just wasn't a celestial light. It was a light in a stark, sterile room, a blinding, searing, hot, white light and above it, eyes and hands, everywhere at once, noises, beeping, laughter, tears. It was a light in the maternity ward. A light signifying the beginning of a new life...of my new life.

You are not buying this, are you? Hmmm. Well, there's more. So much more. Let me tell you the rest. Let me tell you how Daisy inadvertently came back into my life, years later, five, to be exact. Maybe you'll begin to believe me then. Maybe you'll start to understand. Maybe...