March Stumbles

Not a great month so far. My 15 yo pupster, Gaby, is under the weather. She has several issues–arthritis, canine cognitive dysfunction, a gall bladder issue, and now elevated liver enzymes that are likely due to the arthritis medication she was on. I’m hoping there are solutions to everything, but, well, *15*.

I wish I could stop time, but I can only do that in stories.

On the relatively brighter side, there’s a hint of spring in the air…though I know from experience that we can still get snow events in late March/early April. But the temperatures are edging up, and here and there I see bulb shoots and other bits of green. I’m ready for warmth, the chance to sit out on deck at dusk and watch the bats flit around. Listen to the coyotes’ mad yipping from the nearby nature preserve. Weed and mow and mow and weed….

I’ll close with a longish snippet from “Nest,” my story in Wandering Monsters, Issue #16 of Boundary Shock Quarterly:

Gwyn pushed through low foliage in the direction of the voice, and spotted Peter Zelinsky kneeling beside a fallen tree. “Lila’s asking for you. Tomas and Sonna have started setting up the domicile and we really need to get to work.”

Peter looked up, one hand resting on the trunk, which was decayed and partially hollowed. He was the youngest member of the team, barely out of his teens, with a face like everyone’s little brother and irritating habits to match. “One of the cat critters is inside.”

“We’re not supposed to—“

“It’s dead.”

Gwyn crouched by the opening and looked inside the hollow. At the far end of the space lay a weasel-like creature, dull gray with a vaguely feline face and fluffy tail. “What happened to it?”

“Just its time, I guess.” Peter pointed to one of the jagged red wounds that ran along the creature’s side. “Looks like it was hurt. They said in class that they’re really territorial.”

“It looks sick to me. I can count its ribs, it’s so thin.” Gwyn sniffed, then scooted back. “It really smells.”

“Yeah, I know.” Peter waved away one of the insects that fluttered out of the hollow and around his head. “I was excited at first. It’s their breeding season, and I thought it was a female with pups.”

“That was a guess, you know. They don’t know that much about the animals around here.” Gwyn stood and looked around. The woods had gone quiet again, the silence as heavy as the air. “We need to head back.” She waited for Peter to stand, then backed away as he continued to brush bugs away from his head and neck. “Maybe you should’ve used some repellent.”

“It makes me sneeze.” He followed her through the foliage. “I wanted to find what made this.” He kicked at the path, which while narrow had obviously been there some time. “Must be big, maybe like deer.”

“Or small and there are a lot of them.” Gwyn picked up the pace. “I think we should set up shelter and guardian zones before we introduce ourselves to the wildlife, don’t you think?”

They walked in silence for a time. Then Peter cleared his throat.

“Animals are easier than people.”

“If you say so.”