Walking downtown in little to no clothing - next to my Master - I see others just like me. Walking and waiting for our next command. None of us know how we ended up here, bought and torn away from our families at such a young age. Forced to be obedient and too mature since birth. Taking it upon themselves to yell and beat us when following through with one of their commands takes a second longer than they’d like. Causing us to cower at their hand whenever it’s reaching towards us.
Master stops in front of a foul smelling store and tells me to ‘stay put’ even though he makes me sit on a step outside the store. Big people walk by staring at me with scared expressions like I might lunge at any moment. Little people walk by looking excited and try coming towards me until they’re pulled back by their momma. Seeing my friends walk by with more freedom makes me jealous and sad. I wish my Master could be like theirs. They all have nice houses to keep the snow off and wind away when they sleep. Sometimes if they’re really good, or their Master is feeling nice that day, they’re allowed in Masters’ House with a hot box in every room. I’m stuck under the leaky porch on stormy, restless nights.
Master comes out of the shop, clearly distressed, yelling,”You’re just an old scum bag, don’t nobody want your lousy liquor anyhow!”
The smell from the store follows him all the way home, fragments of it dropping to my senses as he muttered about a scum lyng dirt-bag not giving him his fair share of liquor. The walk home allowed the anticipation and nervousness to build inside of me. When he gets upset and grumbly, it never ends well for me. Just as the thought came, it left, replaced by a throbbing pain in my head.
“Just a stupid! Ignorant! Bastard!” His yelling overcame everything. Drowned out every noise; the breeze seemed to be at a stand-still. The only thing left in the world were the brute force of his hands and the piercing ring of his voice. A couple years of this has taught me to not fight him even though kick after brutalizing kick made my last pitiful meal churn in my stomach and want to pass out. Passing out during an outburst could get you killed, that always happened to the oldest of us.
With my vision fading and mind going numb, I surprisingly heard,”Rich! Leave that poor thing alone! Come inside, soups done.” Finally. Finally, his old lady has mercy on me.
He kicks me one last time before waddling up the steps inside his house. Leaving me aching and shivering in the chilling night air. I wait to hear the distinctive thud of him sitting down at the dinner table with his wife and warm meal. I slowly crawl my way to the bottom of the porch to rest my head and try to regain my sense from my half-conscious state. I hear sounds of laughter and turn my head to the noise.
Across the clearing, behind the house, little people are running around laughing with children chasing them. I make my way to the back of the porch to watch them better. All the pain coursing through my body was gone in that moment. It was just them. Running. Laughing. Chasing. Such freedom, right in front of me. I get a sudden surge of hope. Willing my body to respond, and fight through my aching muscles. My legs are underneath me, and inching my way towards the clearing.
Eventually I reach the group and a little person runs up to me saying, “Hi puppy, you wanna play?”
“Hey Jake, what’s his name?”a big person asks. The little person, Jake,checks my neck for something then says, “I dunno, he doesn’t have any tags. Let’s call him Toby! Come on Toby, let’s play! Finally I have a name. A new master. A new freedom. Finally.