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Thread: Tiki 2009-2018

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    Tiki 2009-2018

    Harold just stood there staring at Tiki's corpse lying under an olive tree. At first he hoped she was sleeping, and he sought any indication that she might still be breathing. But gradually the full picture unfolded in his mind. Ants were already crawling all over her and the flies were circling around, landing for an instant before taking off again carrying a small portion of her with them. He was lost by the image of it, his mind refused to accept that she had been alive this morning, licked his hand as he knelt beside her to pet her head before leaving for work, and now she was simply gone.
    Her body was there before him, but her spirit, that amazing, loving, endlessly loyal and affectionate spirit was no more. There she lay, her brown and white fur the same as when she was alive and her piercing blue eyes, which prompted so many people to ask whether she was blind, were closed. Harold suddenly realized he will never see her greet him enthusiastically when he came back from work, they will never go on walks together in the evenings and mornings, he will never be able to pet her and play with her ever again. Images of their life together drifted before his eyes. She was his. She had been a puppy when he met Adrian. They used to joke that she was their practice daughter for when they would start their family. He remembered how frightened Tiki used to get during thunder storms, and how she always came to him for comfort until the terrible thunderclaps passed on. How she placed her head on his lap when he watched TV or read a book, and how keenly she listened to him playing his guitar.
    All the unconditional love she gave him was gone now. She was dead. A lump was beginning to develop in his throat, threatening to choke him. He pushed it down. He turned around, opened the big sliding door, closed it behind him and slowly trudged towards his wife and children who set drawing together on the floor. Crayons were producing such wonderfully colored rainbows, people, cars and spaceships. He stood above his children, at a loss at what to say. Phrasing such a wretched situation into simple words seemed impossible.
    Harold was far from a wordsmith, he had always felt more comfortable dealing with numbers and data than literature. As a teen he dreamt of being a singer and song writer but quickly learnt that the writing part was quite beyond him.
    "She… she's dead", he finally blurted out, "it's too late, Tiki is gone".
    Adrian began to weep, and hugged Abigail who was the closest to her. Allen, at four years of age, understood the meaning of his father's statement better than his younger sister, and began screaming without words. It was a primitive howling sound of loss and sorrow that did not require words to make itself understood. Abigail was only two and did not understand what was going on, but cried because she felt that something awful had made her blissful day turn bitter.
    Harold embraced Allan and in his dazed frame of mind he made soothing sounds as he patted his son's back and head.
    "How could this have happened?" Adrian asked him, as if he held some mystical answer which might divine the reason for life and death.
    Tiki had had a cough for several days, she hadn't been eating properly and had lost weight. Harold took her to the veterinarian two days ago who diagnosed her as suffering from Kennel Cough, prescribed antibiotics and said the she should improve within five days and stressed the importance of continuing with the medicine for the full ten days prescribed. That morning, Harold became worried by the fact that Tiki seemed weaker and unhappy. He decided to take her to the vet once more when he came back from work that evening, only to discover that he was much too late.
    "I guess it wasn't Kennel Cough", Harold replied finally. "We have to bury her. I can't leave her out there any longer", he said, thinking about the flies and ants, and knowing it won't take long before the crows show up as well.
    He passed Allen over to his wife for consoling and she wrapped him up in her warm embrace together with Abigail. Harold rose up on unsteady legs and went to get Tiki's old blanket, on which she slept at night, and wrapped her up in it. Her body was rigid and unyielding and he found it difficult to cover her up on all sides. He lifted her up, held her in his arms like a baby, carried her away and placed her in the trunk of the car, which he had opened in advance. He brought a shovel and a spade from the shed and put them in the back seat.
    "I'll come pick you and the kids up after I'm done", he told Adrian.
    She nodded. "we will collect flowers to put on her grave". The wetness in her eyes caused her eyes to shift from green to grey and back again.
    Harold got into the car and drove. He had no idea where he was going. Where do you go to bury a dog? He found himself at the back of the local cemetery. It was a nice place, with trees and flowers. The sound of birds and insects and the warmth of the sun showed life's determination to carry on despite the hardships and awfulness which can be found in this world. This is the place, he decided. He took the tools from the car and began to dig the grave. He made it as deep and wide as he could. When he got the size right, he straightened the edges out and formed a near perfect rectangle. Harold opened the trunk and took a deep breath before lifting Tiki up once more. After he carefully placed her in the hole, he dragged the soil over her. A silent sob escaped his clenched lips, but he bit it down, determined to get this grim task done right. Looking around he noticed some broken marble pieces and placed them over the packed earth. His vision began to blur as tears sought to escape their ducts, but he refused to let them.
    "Now is not the time", he said out loud, "Adrian and the kids are waiting".
    He drove back home in that same automaton like manner he had performed all the tasks up to that point. When he reached his pathway he saw his wife and kids waiting for him outside on the front porch. Adrian had changed their clothes. She and Abigail were wearing black dresses. Adrian's was a smooth black dress she had bought a few months ago for one of their date nights. She was pregnant at the time, he suddenly recalled, and that bulge in her dress simply made her look all the more beautiful. Abigail's dress was black with a white kitten pattern on it. It made her look like a little doll. Allen wore his favorite buttoned shirt which was white with a Ben 10 picture on it and black trousers. Abigail and Allen were both carrying baskets filled with wild flowers, they all looked like a family portrait done in oil paints. It was then he realized he was still wearing his work clothes. He had dug up the soil wearing a suit and tie. The sweat of the hard work had combined with the dirt to muddy up his clothes. They were dirty, and his trousers had gotten torn at some point. He will throw them away later, he decided, he didn't want them anymore.
    He helped his children to the car, fastened their seatbelts, like he always did, and drove back to the grave. When they reached the site of Tiki's resting place, Allan and Abigail spread the flowers over and around the grave. Harold had dug the grave quickly and efficiently, his children, however, made it beautiful.
    They stood in unbroken silence, except for the chirping of the birds and hum of the insects. Somewhere far away they heard an ambulance siren and cars blowing their horns. After a while, Harold realized they were waiting for him to speak. He opened his mouth and closed it again. He tried to think of something to say.
    "I love you Tiki", the words began to gush out, "I will always love you". He looked at his children crying over the grave, tears streaming down their eyes while their mother stood behind them with her hands on their shoulders." The only perfect beings in the world, I always thought, were children and dogs. Tiki was both for me. She was a part of our family and she will remain so forever, as long as we shall remember her. I miss you already, Tiki. You were mine, you were ours, and we are yours. Always and ever".
    He knelt down beside the grave and placed a hand on one of the marble pieces. He gave her one last pat, rose up and went back to the car. His family followed behind him and they drove home.
    "Is it legal to bury a dog there?" his wife asked when they got back home.
    "I really don't give a damn", Harold replied, "She deserves a proper resting place".
    "Yes, you're right. It is the perfect place for her".
    They got the kids ready for the evening. Allan and Abigail played in the bath together, while Adrian watched over them. Harold ordered a pizza, neither Adrian nor him had the desire to cook anything that night, showered and then set the table for dinner. The pizza arrived and they all set at the table together, but no one was very hungry and most of the pizza went uneaten.
    That night, after Harold read the children a bed time story, Abigail fell fast asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. Allen, however, found that sleep was very far away from him.
    "Dad? I don't want to remember Tiki", he said, his face was gloom and the corners of his mouth were pulled down very low.
    "Why is that, love?", Harold asked.
    "Because it hurts too much. It hurts my heart and makes me want to cry".
    "That's alright, Ally. It hurts because you love her so much, I feel the same way. But, you know what? As long as we remember her, then it's as if she isn't really dead. Because she's still alive in our hearts and in our memories of her".
    "Ok dad", he said. Allen gave his father a hug, closed his eyes and eventually drifted off to sleep.
    Harold watched his children sleep for a while, took a deep breath and went to his own bedroom.
    Adrian set on the edge of the bed. She was wearing her white nightgown that had Tigger from Winnie the Poo on it. She looked up at him when he entered the room.
    "It's alright now, my love", she said opening her arms to him, "you were brave enough for one day, you don't have to be strong anymore".
    Harold fell before her, crashing to the ground like a cut down tree. He rested his head on her big pregnant belly, and she enclosed it in a hug. All the tears that he forced down, the sobs he wouldn't let escape, came bursting out of him now. The rock that had been pushing down on his chest had finally lifted and he allowed himself to truly feel the monstrousness of that day. He cried for the first time in his adult life, he cried without any feelings of shame he might have had for showing his weakness. He cried like a little boy who desperately needed his mother to comfort him. In that moment, Adrian was everything to him. she was his spouse, lover, mother and friend. She was all those things and more. Harold felt the baby inside her move against his cheek. She is also comforting me, he thought. It made him smile suddenly. Harold fell asleep holding on to his wife, like a drowning man lost at sea might grasp at the only thing keeping him afloat and alive.

  2. #2
    TheFairyDogMother kiz_paws's Avatar
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    What a beautiful and heart-felt story. *sniff*
    Rest In Peace, Tiki.
    Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty
    ~Albert Einstein

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    Thanks, I appreciate it.

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    By the way, I would really appreciate any comments anyone might have. Ways of improving the story, what works? what Doesn't?
    Thanks.

  5. #5
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Okay, I'm in. Your writing excels in factors that are difficult to quantify--rhythm, cadence, pacing, and so on. That's good news for you. It means you are a bit of a natural. Your work could be improved (like any writing) by more focused imagery and figures of speech. You mention ants "crawling all over" Tiki and flies "circling around" her. Why not have tiny ant trails at her eyes like tears shed for her lost family? Why not have the flies flow in and out of her open jaws like the breath she no longer has? Of course there could be questions of taste in describing a decomposing carrion. I'm just telling you how I would do it.

    A bigger problem is that your story presents a thesis (the death of Tiki) but conflates what should be its synthesis/catharsis (the hope offered by the movement of life in utero) with a missing antithesis (which should have been something like existential nausea--the impossibility of an adequate human response to death).

    One way to remedy this would have been to make Harold's perfect family a little flawed. It could have used a teenager mindlessly texting friends during the funeral. And Harold himself could have drawn a blank on how to respond to Allen when he didn't want to remember Tiki. Perhaps could have messed up that parenting moment because an authentic human response to death is not really possible. Maybe Harold's heartfelt attempt to manage the whole crisis could have failed utterly. That would have made the final payoff--the child in Adrian's womb being the one to comfort HIM--all the more powerful.

    You have made a few grammatical mistakes, too. They're no big deal, but I assume you want to know about them. The first may be only awkwardness, but I suggest you change "his mind refused to accept that she had been alive this morning, licked his hand as he knelt beside her..." to licking his hand. But the others are definite no-nos.

    The sequence of tenses requires the three wills in the following sentence to be woulds:

    "Harold suddenly realized he will never see her greet him enthusiastically when he came back from work, they will never go on walks together in the evenings and mornings, he will never be able to pet her and play with her ever again."

    Likewise won't needs to be changed to wouldn't in the following sentence:

    " 'I can't leave her out there any longer', he said, thinking about the flies and ants, and knowing it won't take long before the crows show up as well."

    And the will here needs to be a would for the same reason (sequence of tenses):

    "He will throw them away later, he decided, he didn't want them anymore."

    The him in "neither Adrian nor him had the desire to cook anything that night" needs be a he because it is a subject rather than a direct object.

    The simple past of sit is sat; it needs to replace set in "they all set at the table together"; and likewise in "Adrian set on the edge of the bed."

    Okay, that's all you're getting from me. Hope it was helpful. Sorry about your dog.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-16-2018 at 10:23 AM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    Thanks Pumpey Bum. Your comments are very helpful and I will pay attention to all of that in any future stories I post. I appreciate the details and sincerity. Feel free to comment as much as you want.

  7. #7
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    You're welcome. You could always return the favor by reading and commenting on my recent review of Min Jin Lee's Pachinko in the Write a Book Review forum. I'm not looking for a critique as much as intelligent conversation about the issues I brought up (having read the book is not necessary). If you are interested, here is the link:

    http://www.online-literature.com/for...38#post1351338
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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