I had written this story 20 odd years ago. I put it on Hub pages, when it existed! Strangely I was working on a project on Lulu.com recently, did a search on my name, and there it was… a real blast from the past, listed under my name against an email that had expired many years ago. Be aware, this is a sad story. I was (and still am) involved with an animal rescue at the time.
The headlights swept by ceaselessly, each one momentarily flickering across Teddy’s eyelids, closed against the glare. The lead rubbed against his neck, raw now. His paws ached, unable to make more than a few steps forwards or backwards. He had been here two days, tied to the post in a lay-bye, the lead too short to enable him to take the pressure of his legs by lying down. He was wet, cold, tired and hungry, but mostly tired. He knew that if he relaxed he would strangle on the lead, but he knew that he could not stand much longer. So he stood, head down, shivering against the rain, the night and the pain. He wished for Mama-Lily, and he cried for what once was.
Mama-Lily had adopted him as a pup, and he had adored her, from her long black tresses to the tips of her toes. She was a happy woman, who cared for him. She invented endless fun-filled games just for him, her Teddy. She would cuddle up to him at night and swear that she would always look after him. Every day they would have long walks and he would always be at her side, protecting her. She was everything to him; he would always be loyal to her.
Papa-Bob came into their life when Teddy was three years old, Teddy liked him. He was a tall man who also loved Mama-Lily. Teddy was glad because it seemed to make Mama-Lily even happier. He played with Teddy too, not as much or as often as Lily but enough for Teddy to know that he cared. They laughed a lot together, but always included Teddy. Life was good.
Then one day Teddy jumped onto Mama-Lily’s lap and smelt something bad inside her. It made his blood run cold; it was a wrong, evil smell. Teddy burrowed his nose into her stomach trying to seek it out but Mama–Lily pushed him away, laughing. “Whatever are you doing, Teddy?”
Day after day the smell became a little stronger and Mama-Lily began to have pains. She grumbled about it but carried on until one day Teddy went to look for her and found her doubled up in the garden, crying. He nuzzled her gently but she wouldn’t get up so he went to find Papa-Bob in the garage. He barked and tugged at Papa – Bobs trousers until he followed him into the garden. When Papa-Bob saw Lily he went pale and ran to her.
A big vehicle with flashing lights came for Lily and Bob disappeared too. Teddy wandered around the garden disconsolately. He was frightened and scared. When night fall came he went and sat outside the front door and waited. Papa-Bob came back in the middle of the night and sat next to Teddy on the top step. He put his head in his hands and cried. Teddy licked the back of his hands and cried with him.
“It’s cancer, Teddy.”
Papa–Bob hugged Teddy, holding him tightly and pressing his head into Teddy’s coat. Teddy didn’t know what cancer was but he knew it was the bad thing that he had smelled inside her.
Teddy never saw Mama-Lily again. Day after day Papa-Bob went to the hospital and each day he came back and cried with Teddy. One day he came back and told Teddy “We have to be strong now, Teddy. She has gone to a better place. She is at peace now.”
Teddy wondered why if it was a better place that we didn’t all go there. Where, he wondered, was Peace? He should go there to be with Mama-Lily. One day, he would go there.
Teddy was five when Mama-Lily went to the better place, and for the next five years he and Bob were on their own together. At first they cried a lot, but after a while the pain got less. Teddy still missed and loved Mama-Lily, but he helped Papa-Bob get better and for a while at least, it was OK.
One day Papa-Bob came home with Mama-Sue. She was just Sue then, of course. He introduced her to Teddy and she stroked him, but Teddy sensed that she was scared of him. He licked her hand to say that it’s ok but she squeaked and snatched her hand away. She didn’t want to go on the walks so the walks got shorter and less frequent. The more Teddy wanted to make friends the more she seemed to resent him. If he greeted her by jumping she would moan about Teddy’s dirty feet. She became Mama- Sue when Teddy was six. From then on it seemed Teddy could do no right. She complained about Teddy’s hair, his dirty footprints, everything. Teddy was banned firstly from the bedroom, then the living room where he would curl up in front of the fire. One day Papa-Bob built a kennel in the garden and Teddy found himself living in that. It was ok in summer, but Teddy was lonely. In winter it was cold. Sometimes Papa-Bob would let him into the kitchen though Mama-Sue would scream at him. Teddy sensed that Papa-Bob was really unhappy. So was Teddy. Teddy cried every night for company, for the long walks he now never had, for Mama-Lily.
Mama-Sue woke Teddy screaming at Papa-Bob. She was moaning about a job that Papa-Bob could do but Papa-Bob didn’t want to move, but would have too to take on the new job. Teddy heard him say that he didn’t want to move to London, they didn’t need the money and what about Teddy?
Mama-Sue said Teddy could be re-homed. She would take Teddy to the animal centre herself as he hadn’t got the guts to do so. She said they always need the money; didn’t he care about her at all? London was a good place to be.
Teddy wondered if London was as good a place as Peace, where Mama-Lily was.
The next morning Teddy found himself on a lead and in Mama-Sues car. Papa-Bob had come to him and said
“Sorry Teddy, I have no choice. Someone will look after you.”
Papa-Bob was crying. Teddy thought that he was afraid for Teddy and licked his hand.
Papa-Bob walked away with his head down. Mama-Sue came out and put his lead on. “Come on, Mutt”.
She took him to the back of her car and put him on the back seat. Teddy had not been in a car for a long time and was uneasy. He whimpered.
Mama-Sue said “Don’t you mess up my car, Mutt”
They drove off and Teddy looked back at the house and wondered if he would ever see it again.
Mama-Sue was angry. She was tired of driving around trying to find the animal shelter. She just wanted to get rid of the dog and go home. She also guessed that the animal home wouldn’t be happy to have a twelve year old dog dumped on them. Mama-Sue didn’t like looking bad. In Mama-Sue’s world it was not what you were that was important, it was what you appeared to be. Mama-Sue wanted to look good, and didn’t mind doing bad to achieve that.
“The end justifies the means” she told Teddy, as she pulled into a lay-by on the main road. “This way, someone will find you quite quickly. The RSPCA will look after you, Bob won’t know any different and I don’t have to lose face. We all win!”
She pulled Teddy from the car and tied him to a metal post with a litter bin on it. The bin smelt of old burgers and Teddy’s nose twitched. She tied the lead tightly around the bin bracket.
“Goodbye Teddy”. She jumped into her car and drove off.
Teddy waited patiently. He tried to lie down but the lead was too high and the collar started strangling him as soon as his weight was on it. At best he could sit, but had to stretch his body up uncomfortably or the collar dug into him. Car after car drove by but nobody stopped. The smell of burgers from the bin started to plague him. There was no water. Even if there was a bowl of water on the floor he couldn’t have put his head down far enough to drink from it. The sun went down and still Teddy waited. The cars still went by but you couldn’t see them, only a glare of lights as they swept by, only the roar of the engines that drowned out Teddy’s barking. Teddy licked the pole which felt cool on his tongue. The night was full of rustling from the fields next to the lay-by. Teddy felt eyes on him, feral eyes watching and waiting. His legs ached uncontrollably. In the night he cried until he could cry no more. He had little strength left. At some point he fell asleep, only waking when his legs buckled and the noose of his collar tightened around his throat. He woke choking but managed to regain his feet. His throat ached, his legs shook. Teddy was afraid. He cried out for Papa-Bob, but there was no-one there to hear him. When daylight came again Teddy raised his head to feel the sun. He wanted to be at Peace, with Mama-Lucy. He wondered where all the cars were going so fast, even in his pain he wondered. Perhaps they were going to London, perhaps Peace. Perhaps Papa-Bob was on one of them. He barked at the cars for a while, but Papa-Bob, or anyone else, didn’t stop.
The soon was soon hot and Teddy stood with his head under the shade of the bin. His legs were all shaking uncontrollably but still he waited. At one point he heard a scratching noise and looked up. Perched on top of the bin was a single rook. He had evil eyes. Teddy sensed that he was waiting for something bad to happen. Teddy barked at him. The bark was not loud, for Teddy’s voice was hoarse and sore. The bird flapped its wings and slowly flew away. Teddy knew he would be back.
In the afternoon the sun went behind clouds and it started to rain. At first this was good as Teddy licked the water off the pole. It was pooling at his feet but he couldn’t get his head down to it, so he licked what he could off the pole. He tried to chew through the lead but it was made of something strong and at twelve Teddy did not have many teeth left. For a while he grabbed the lead and used the strength of his neck to take the weight off his front feet. He could not do this for long though. As the day slipped into dusk he saw that the rook was back. He did not have the strength to bark.
Sometime in the early hours of the morning Teddy’s legs gave way. His head jerked back as his front legs collapsed and the collar bit into his throat. For a while his back legs scratched at the ground, frantically trying to get a grip as his desperate lungs fought for breath, but Teddy was twelve, old, tired and betrayed. In the end he had nothing left to live for. He felt the strength drain from his body taking with it all the pain, wiped by a growing cold cloud of darkness that slipped over his eyes like a ghostly shadow.
Teddy died alone in the dark.
He was at Peace. He knew where he was when he opened his eyes. All round him were rolling, gentle hills covered with grass and flowers. The sun shone down on him warming but not to hot. He could smell rabbits and somewhere he could smell a familiar fragrance… He knew that smell so well! He hoped but dared not hope. Slowly he walked up to the top of the hill and looked down into the valley. His heart soared… she was there? The woman at the bottom of the valley turned her sweet and beautiful face towards him, she looked so well, so young…
It was her voice, her beloved, much missed voice. He ran as fast as his legs could take him down the bank and launched himself into her waiting arms. She held him close and together they cried and laughed and cried again. Even the tears were happy ones. The smell of cancer was gone and he was with his beloved Mama-Lily again, this truly was the better place, and finally he was at Peace.