It was a yard, a concrete yard, nine years, ten years ago. The people, the back-paw walkers, they will tell you my memory is not that long, but I remember. High walls, a shelter against the rain and Ben, my companion.
We shared so many dreams, Ben and I – of the wild things whose scent we could test as it floated past us in the wind, but never see. We talked of how we might chase them together one day, and what sort of world it could be, on the Great Outside.
The back-paws came to us with food, sometimes spoke or petted us, but mostly we were alone and afraid. We had each other. We were friends.
I remember the day the stranger came, and how he talked to us as back-paws will, and how I could not fear him, even when he put me in the metal Box-That-Roared. I saw the panic in Ben’s eyes as I was taken away, and I cried out for him, somehow knowing I would never see him again.
And then it was there! The Box-That-Roared showed me what the Great Outside was like – flashed through it, scene after scene before I had time to smell its secrets. I was alone and so frightened, with no idea what was happening to me, but then the Box-That-Roared brought me here.
All that was long, long ago, when I was young. I live in the Great Outside now, and it is much as we imagined, Ben and I: my mistress, the female back-paws takes me daily to update my favourite scents, and for that generosity I guard her. I have concrete to lie on when I am hot, although most of the time I favour the back-paws’ big shelter with its thick walls, warm places, and my allowance of three soft beds! My master, who is older and unsure, looks after me with food, some scratching when I need it, as well as giving his voice to break my silence. For those services, I must guard him, too.
Let me warn you, guarding two back-paws is complicated because they will not behave properly, like a pack! They are virtually helpless; they have no sense of smell and precious little hearing, yet they keep separating! Sometimes my master takes the Box-That-Roars away for hours to places I can only learn about when it returns by sniffing the fat rubber rings on its feet. Now and then my master and mistress both go away to those places and leave ME behind! I fret because I cannot protect them then, or persuade them of the peril they are in. All I can do is pull the kitchen towel off its rail. I believe they understand.
When they are here in our shelter I do my best to keep them safe. Guarding them both, making sure I constantly position myself so I can rush to the aid of either of them, is a full-time task and a very stressful one, but I think I manage, by and large.
And there it is – my life! I am old now and less inclined to run and be foolish, but now and again when the silence threatens I remember my friend Ben, and I think of all the tales I might tell him of riding in the Box-That-Roars to wild places, and the new scents I discovered there. Sometimes when the air is like crystal I imagine I hear him calling me, whether from that yard we shared or, as I hope, some better place.
My name is Honey. There is much I wished for, but never found. All-in-all, I think I am happy.
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