— Rich Gigli
— Rich Gigli
By Bob Gaydos
When I started thinking about what to write for this week’s blog, I decided, what with it being Thanksgiving week, to try to avoid one of those smart ass columns that make me feel so clever and instead go for something a bit more personal. What was I thankful for? That always starts with my two sons, Max, 17, and Zack, 15. So far, so good.
As I thought about them, I thought about myself as a teenager and eventually wound up back in another Thanksgiving, a sad, heart-wrenching one, 46 years ago. Thanksgiving, 1963, was a day of tears for many Americans. Six days earlier, President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. I was actually out of my teens and out of college by then and waiting to go to Fort Dix, N.J., for basic training. Kennedy’s death delayed that departure but the Army got its man.
Like many young Americans at the time, Kennedy was an iconic figure to me. He was the first president to whom I paid any attention. More to the point, he was the first one who made me think consciously about what a president represents, or should represent. Forty-six years later I know a lot more about Kennedy than I did then and recognize the fact that he was, like all of us, a flawed human being. But in 1963 he was JFK, the young, cool, smart, funny, charming, tough guy with a beautiful wife and a gift for words. He made me feel proud to be an American. It wasn’t complicated. When Kennedy spoke, I was glad he was my president. My leader.
I haven’t had anything approaching those feelings about an American president since then, until the election of Barack Obama, which, I realize now, is where the train of thought from my sons to JFK had led me. I am eternally thankful that my teenaged sons were fortunate to experience the campaign that led to the election of this country’s first black president and that, like JFK, Obama is a young, cool, smart, funny, charming guy with a beautiful wife and a gift for words.
What we don’t know yet is how tough Obama can be and whether he can be a leader, but he has thus far stuck to his guns on saving our battered economy and on reforming the health care system. These are enormously important if complicated and mind-boggling challenges that, unfortunately, do not lend themselves to immediate success, much less feelings of pride. Way to go, Barack! A more dramatic reading of Obama will come next week when he reveals his plans for resolving the war in Afghanistan. But he will have critics on both sides, whatever he decides. That is the reality of governing. Plus, Obama has had to deal from Day One with a small, loud segment of our society that doesn’t like him simply because of who he is and what he represents. A lot of Americans also had trouble accepting JFK, the first Catholic president, in addition to being a young man with an Ivy League pedigree.
One would think — well, I think — that competence, intelligence, a willingness to hear all sides of an issue, a belief that diplomacy is a necessary adjunct to military might in foreign policy — are necessary attributes in a president. Where Obama — who was two years old when JFK was shot — has succeeded beyond question is in elevating the level of respect for the United States around the world. When I see him in Japan or China or Germany or wherever he meets with world leaders, I confess I feel proud. I think that is a good thing. I really don’t get the argument that it’s not good to talk to other nations and to have people of other nations respect our leader. You go around with a chip on your shoulder, someone is bound to try to knock it off.
Look, the guy can walk and talk and make sense on any subject at any time and look good doing it — and he can sink a three-point shot. So he might get something wrong along the way; name a president who didn’t. This is someone my kids can understand and relate to. Someone who, I know, has their best interests at heart. Someone who is a walking endorsement of acceptance of all the different kinds of people who call themselves Americans. Find fault with him, sure, but how can you hate this?
So, as a father in 2009, I am grateful that my sons have the opportunity to witness and, if they choose, to follow the lead of Barack Obama. To feel pride in their country. To sense, maybe, that they, too, can make a difference. To know that it is not corny to think such things.
Barack Obama, also like John Kennedy, is the father of two young children. Forty-six years ago, Caroline and John-John had a Thanksgiving without their father. An entire nation mourned with them. This year, I pray, for my sons’ sake, that the promise of this charismatic, young president will be realized.
Bob can reached at email@example.com.
By Michael Kaufman
Thanksgiving at our house will be a little different this year as it comes at a time when my wife and I are facing a critical point in our marriage. After more than 21 years together, we are now forced to deal with one of the burning issues of our time: Can an obsessively compulsive woman and a man with attention deficit disorder live together in peace and harmony?
We have successfully evaded the question all these years because one or both of us has been working fulltime so we were rarely together long enough for the other’s annoying habits to get on our nerves. Now, thanks to a spectacular hiking accident that shattered her ankle in several places on November 7, and a less-than spectacular economy that has rendered me without a fulltime job since February, we are home … alone (except for when the kids come in for a weekend or holiday) … together (except for the dog and cat) … all day long. Our love has never been so greatly tested.
Under orders from a renowned ankle surgeon in Manhattan (so renowned he doesn’t accept insurance) she is unable to put any weight on her right foot. She has only been outside once since her surgery — to attend a performance by our daughter in a school play — and it was a fiasco. She said the wheelchair we rented that day was uncomfortable. After the show I loaded the chair into the car but forgot to load the crutches. Backing out, I ran over the crutches. The ride was bumpy. As we neared home a large deer darted in front of the car and I had to brake hard. The sudden stop nearly sent her crashing into the dashboard and sent painful tremors through her entire leg. She hasn’t been outside since, nor has she used the wheelchair. Remarkably, the crutches sustained only minor damage and remained serviceable.
Stuck at home with nothing to do but sit or lie down with her leg elevated (“Toes above the nose,” was the emphatic mantra from the nurses) she has little to do. She hates TV except for “Jolly Widows,” the Korean soap opera we watch together Monday through Friday nights on WMBC (Channel 20 on Cablevision … you should watch it, it’s great, really) from 9:20 to 10 p.m. And maybe a little Keith Olbermann (sorry Gaydos) and Rachel Maddow. She reads. And she obsesses.
She says, “Could you put that glass in the sink?” She says, “Can you bring me my reading glasses?” She says, “Can you straighten out that cover on the ottoman?’ She says, “Oh, and when you bring me my reading glasses can you bring the quilt and the water bottle?” She says, “Thanks, but you forgot the quilt.” She says, “Can you bring me my notebook computer, my hair clip, and the quilt you forgot before?” She says, “Can you bring me my pillow?” She says, “That’s not the right pillow. I want the white smooshy one. And can you bring me my Blackberry?” She says, “That isn’t my Blackberry. It’s my cell phone. Can you bring the charger, too?” She says, “That’s the cell phone charger.” And so it goes.
To be honest, we got on each other’s nerves a litte bit at first, but we’ve gotten pretty good at laughing at ourselves. It may be a cliche, but laughter is still the best medicine. The answer to the burning question is yes.
NOTE: Special thanks from Eva-Lynne and our entire family to the wonderful rescue workers from Greenwood Lake, who carried her safely from the treacherous site of the accident on the Appalachian Trail. And thanks to a hiker named Roger, whose kindness and assistance helped ease her ordeal throughout that long and painful afternoon.
Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jeffrey Page
With one glaring exception, I’ve opposed capital punishment ever since I read Clarence Darrow’s autobiography in high school. Darrow, among others, has been credited with the observation: Hate the crime, not the criminal.
What I’ve learned about myself is that my mercy has limits, and that I find that in many cases I hate the crime and the criminal.
I veered from my moral comfort zone in 1995 when I saw a picture of Baylee Almon that came over the AP wire in the newsroom in Hackensack. Remember Baylee? She was the little girl – dead in the Oklahoma City bombing – being cradled in the arms of a burly fireman. She was 1 year old. Her face was pointed away from the camera, giving her a Christ-like appearance – like the vision of Jesus in Salvador Dali’s famous painting of the Crucifixion.
Her head was covered in blood. There was a bad gash on her right arm. It was hard to determine what she was wearing except for her bloodied white socks. Her legs, lifeless, dangled over the fireman’s left arm. I was not supposed to hate the criminal, but I hated him passionately.
Later there was a conviction. Timothy McVeigh would be put to death, and I wrote at the time that while I wouldn’t take joy in doing it, I would press the plunger of the hypodermic to carry out the sentence.
I concede that my reaction to McVeigh’s barbarism was emotional, not based in reason or compassion. Compassion? For McVeigh? Aside from Baylee’s, there were 167 more graves to dig in Oklahoma City. I justified my reaction to McVeigh and his crime by directing every ounce of my compassion to Baylee’s mother, to that fireman, and to Baylee. If not for McVeigh, Baylee Almon would now be 15 years old.
So I flunked McVeigh’s test. Once, I believed that capital punishment is never justified, if for no other reason than its irreversibility. And then, with McVeigh, I concluded that sometimes it is quite justified. Soon, I returned to that comfort zone, hoping that never again would I be so tested.
But now there are new tests, and in at least one instance, I’m failing again.
There is the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man who acknowledges that he planned the attacks on America of Sept. 11. The result of his operation: 2,976 people dead, not including the hijackers. He too could face a death sentence if convicted.
So what does a restored death penalty opponent such as myself think?
I recall the catalog of Mohammed’s savagery. The hijackings; the slashings with box cutters; the unimaginable terror aboard the three planes being flown into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, and the one plane crashing in that wretched field in Shanksville; people looking out their office windows and seeing a plane coming at them; the crashes; the fires; people jumping out of high windows to escape the flames; the prayers on the run; the rush to get down the stairwells; the buildings coming down; people still in the towers falling to their deaths, the panic in the streets as people ran for their lives.
I think about another baby, this one named Christine Lee Hanson, 2½ years old, who was flying to California with her parents Peter and Susan Hanson aboard United Airlines Flight 175. This was the plane that was flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Mercy for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should he be convicted and sentenced to death? By the very extent of his cruelty and evil, mercy is not possible. I would press the plunger.
Despite that thought, I will, in this season of giving, write a check to the Innocence Project (100 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10011), whose noble work in freeing wrongly convicted people – in both capital and noncapital cases – is exemplary.
I don’t like the moral position I find myself in. I still oppose the death penalty – usually – but I’m not as comfortably absolutist as in the years before McVeigh.
Jeffrey can be reached at email@example.com
By Carrie Jacobson
Zoe and Kaja run up the road, away from the yellow house where Zoe used to live.
They run around a curve, and stop, panting, behind a bush.
Kaja peers around the edge of the bush. She can’t see the yellow house any more, but she can smell it, and the scent of the man who yelled at them and chased them away.
She turns back to Zoe, and rubs her nose along the small dog’s face. She licks the little dog’s ear, and Zoe pulls in close to the big red dog, and Kaja feels the little dog trembling.
Zoe doesn’t know what to do. She’s come so far to this little road, to this neighborhood she knew so well and loved so much. She and Kaja have followed roads, crossed fields, forged rivers. They’ve faced danger, outsmarted people, and been tempted time and again to stay, to rest, to settle, but they kept moving. They kept walking and traveling and fighting, to get here, to this place that was supposed to be home.
And now it’s not home. It’s just a yellow house on a little road, a yellow house with strangers who yell and kick and hate.
The dogs don’t know what to do. And so they do what dogs do. They curl up beneath the bush and sleep.
They sleep, and they dream dog dreams. Kaja runs with deer. She races, fleet and swift and silent through the woods, leaping like flight, running so fast that winter never catches her, hunger never catches her, death never catches her. Zoe dreams, and in her dream, she’s in the yellow house, curled up in front of the fire. James is sitting in a chair, reading, and the woman is in the kitchen, cooking something that smells delicious. In her dream, Zoe is happy and warm and full, and everything is as it is supposed to be.
She hears the neighbor’s voice through the window then, and in her dream, she listens hard, and she hears the sound of James’s car in the driveway. And then she hears him talking to the neighbor, and in her dream she imagines she can smell his scent – and it is so real, so close, that it wakes her up – and she listens, and sniffs the air –
And she jumps up. She jumps up so quickly that she wakes Kaja, and the big dog raises herself up, and stares at Zoe, and Zoe barks, once, twice – and cocks her head and listens.
She barks again.
And then she hears it.
“Zoe?” the voice calls. “Zoe?”
And Zoe barks again, and begins running down the road, barking, running as fast as her tiny legs will carry her, and as she and Kaja round the corner, the big dog sees a man running toward them, a man with dark hair and a beard and a huge smile on his face, and he sees the little dog and calls her name again, but this time, tears have choked his voice, and he reaches Zoe, and bends down and picks her up in both hands, and holds her close to his face and says her name, again and again and again.
Zoe is wagging and wriggling so hard that James has to hold her tight, and he presses his face against her, saying her name again and again, and the little blind dog licks his tears away, and snuggles tight as she can against the man she loves.
James Dunning took Zoe and Kaja back to the house he and his wife were sharing with her mother. If we’re going to stay here, he told her, these dogs are staying with us. Susan’s mother finally agreed. It turned out that she wasn’t as allergic as she’d led them to believe.
Soon enough, Susan’s hours picked back up, and James started a new job at Orange Regional Medical Center. By the start of 2010, he and Susan were able to give their renters notice, and move back into the little yellow house.
Now, they were four: James and Susan and their two dogs, Kaja and Zoe.
A note to readers:
The animals in this story are based on our own animals. Zoe actually is a blind lhasa apso. Our daughter got Zoe from the Connecticut Humane Society, and we ended up taking her a few years later. Zoe is about 12, we think. She is a fierce and loving little dog, happy and sweet but serious about her role as a guardian, blind or not.
Kaja is based on our big red German shepherd-chow. We got her as a puppy, from the shelter in Westminster, Maryland. Kaja is about the smartest, most noble dog ever. She’s 13, and arthritis is taking a toll on her, but she’s still happy to greet every day.
Loosey was a wonderful cat of ours, who was killed by a coyote. She was a smart and sweet and funny cat who loved the woods and the sun and the big, broad outdoors. I wrote this story in her memory.
Thank you for reading.
Carrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Shawn Dell Joyce
Growing the food that feeds our country is one of the most thankless and low-paying jobs a person could have. In 2002, the median net income for a U.S. farmer was $15,848, and hired hands and migrant workers averaged about $10,000 per year. Farming has become so unpopular that the category was removed recently from the U.S. census,?and federal prison inmates now outnumber farmers.
Migrant pickers often put in long hours, up to 12-hour days, earning about 45 cents for each 32 pound bucket of tomatoes. This amount hasn’t risen in more than 30 years. At that rate, workers have to pick 2.5 tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage. Most farm workers don’t get sick days, overtime or health care. Farmers often don’t fare much ?better.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we stopped putting such an emphasis on “cheap” and instead put an emphasis on “fair,” maybe those hands that grow our food could afford to eat, as well. Raising farm wages would have little effect on supermarket prices, mainly because farmers and farmhands are paid only about 6 cents to 9 cents of?every retail dollar spent.
If we raised farm wages by 35 percent and passed that cost to consumers, it would raise the retail price by only a few pennies, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. The total cost to consumers for all fresh produce would add up to less than $34 per year, per family. If we raised wages by 70 percent, that cost would be about $67. Divide this over 52 weekly trips to the supermarket and you’re looking at spending barely a dollar more each week. Wouldn’t you spend that much to know that people didn’t suffer to feed you?
In January 2001, the U.S. Department of Labor informed Congress that farm workers were “a labor force in significant economic distress.” The report cited farm workers’ “low wages, sub-poverty annual earnings, (and) significant periods of un- and underemployment,” adding that “agricultural worker earnings and working conditions are either stagnant or in decline.”
In 2005, Taco Bell ended a consumer boycott by agreeing to pay an extra penny per pound to farm workers for its tomatoes. Soon after, McDonald’s made a similar pledge, effectively raising tomato pickers’ wages to 77 cents per bucketful. Burger King steadfastly refused to pay a penny more until public pressure and political officials pushed the second-largest hamburger chain into doing the right thing. “Fast Food Nation” author Eric Schlosser, in a?recent New York Times editorial, described Burger King’s penny-pinching as “a spectacle of yuletide greed worthy of Charles Dickens.”
Most of us do not take the time to wonder why our food costs so little. Instead, we notice how expensive organic or locally grown produce is in comparison. This year, as you and your family gather around the Thanksgiving feast, offer a prayer of gratitude for our small farmers and farmworkers. Give thanks that we still have people willing to grow quality food in a market flooded with cheap imports. Support these hard-working folks by eating locally grown foods at the holiday table and year-round.
— Buy your produce from local farms where you can meet the workers and see for yourself whether they are treated fairly. The smaller the farm, the more likely it is that the workers are treated well. Some farms have only family members working them.
— Support an increase in farm workers’ wages by joining the Alliance for Fair Food, a network of human rights, religious, student, labor, sustainable food and agriculture, environmental and grass-roots organizations that work in partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
Shawn can be reached at email@example.com
By Carrie Jacobson
The harvest is in, the days are shorter and winter has grasped us with a light, firm grip. The color has drained away and the fields look burnished and rich in the early hours of day.
For information on the size and price of this painting, and delivery options, contact carrieBjacobson@gmail.com
By Bob Gaydos
Hallelujah! Zippadee doo da! Great day in the morning! Let the children out to play. Lou Dobbs has quit CNN. Or Lou Dobbs was asked to quit by CNN. Or Lou Dobbs was escorted to the door, given a check and told not to come back by CNN. Doesn’t matter why he’s gone; just that he’s gone. Oh happy day.
Several weeks ago I wrote that if CNN had any intentions of continuing to present itself as a serious journalistic enterprise it should fire Dobbs’ sorry, bigoted ass. That’s the kind of stuff that makes you feel a little better when you write it, but you never expect to come true. Maybe that’s why I felt almost giddy last week when I read that Dobbs had announced he was leaving his cable TV show immediately. The Dour Hour was no more.
Dobbs said he was leaving “to explore a lot of options.” CNN executives said the decision to leave was Dobbs’s alone. Everyone seemed to agree that the onetime financial news reporter no longer fit CNN’s image as a middle-of-the road provider of straight news. The straight-as-an-arrow John King, he of the magic fingers Election Night touch screen, will replace Dobbs in January. King, a former AP reporter, said he would offer unvarnished news and balanced discussions. Now there’s a concept.
CNN may take a hit for a while in the ratings in the 7 p.m. slot because the increasingly loony Dobbs had built a following among the rightwing loonies who dominate talk radio and Fox News. Conspiracy theorists find comfort in their own kind. It‘s easier to talk about your socialist Kenyan president or about diseases being spread by illegal immigrants when there’s no one around to challenge you to offer maybe a fact or two to back up your opinion. Dobbs never did that. Instead, in the guise of discussing important topics, he merely became a primary spreader of rumor, fear and hate. He may have done more to harm the discussion of illegal immigration than any other “news” person on TV with his regular forays into fiction and send-them-back-where-they-came-from arguments.
In the long run, though, I’d like to think that CNN will come out ahead by reasserting its position as a news-based network whose reporters do not engage in ideological rantings. With Fox News totally unbelievable and MSNBC trying to balance that far-right voice with a far-left voice of its own, there has to be a place in cable news where viewers can go to get the news unshaped by opinions from the hosts of the show. CNN has been that place, but Dobbs’ presence was at odds with the rest of the programming and must have become an embarrassment to his bosses. Indeed, Hispanic advocacy groups and media watchdogs had been hammering CNN to dump Dobbs, in large part over his comments on illegal immigration.
Dobbs still has a radio show, where he will continue to do what he does because talk radio doesn’t care a whit about what people say on the air. (Aside to my colleague Jeff Page who writes about just that this week: You really expected Kudlow to step in and stop yet another anti-Obama rant? Take ABC off your car radio buttons. You’ll live longer.) Dobbs said he wanted to continue to work in some public manner on the issues he feels are important, immigration and jobs being at the top of the list. He also said he would like to be involved in “constructive problem-solving.”
Now that would be a switch. If he’s serious, he will soon learn that looking for solutions is much harder than harping on things that bother you and it doesn‘t draw nearly as much applause from your disaffected mob of followers. Here’s an alternative suggestion for Dobbs: Maybe he can sign on with Sarah Palin as an adviser, or even as a running mate. Now that would be a dream ticket for the right-wingers who can’t seem to find anything about this country that they like and aren‘t fussy about the facts. Come to think of it, President Obama probably wouldn’t mind it either, as long as he didn’t have to listen to them.
Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jeffrey Page
Much of what passes for political discourse on talk radio makes no sense and often sounds like nothing but expressions of barbarity. But the hosts are not journalists; they’re entertainers. If what a caller says rubs a nerve in the audience, that’s show biz. Truth? Doesn’t matter. Accuracy? Who cares? Good taste? You must be kidding.
Still, every so often, a caller will say something so outrageous, so beyond the pale, that you expect the host to chime in and put a stop to what amounts to full-throated slander against someone the caller and/or host don’t like.
Over the weekend, I caught a few minutes of the Larry Kudlow show on WABC. I always thought of Kudlow as an intelligent guy. Conservative? You bet. But not a bomb thrower. He seemed like a decent man and so I was astonished at what he allowed a caller to get away with in an attack on President Obama.
It was Greg from New Jersey calling, and Greg was in rant mode.
President Obama is “charting the course to America’s ultimate destruction,” Greg said.
Really? I don’t think Obama is capable of such a thing for any number of reasons, most notably Malia and Sasha. Or was Greg suggesting that Obama would sacrifice his own family so that he could destroy America? Does Greg think Obama is insane? I waited for Kudlow to say something. But nothing.
Greg wasn’t through. The president, in his appearance at Fort Hood after Major Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 people there, expressed “selfishness, divisiveness and arrogance,” Greg said but did not elaborate.
Greg said President Obama thinks we Americans have too much of the good life – did you ever hear Obama say that? – and what he really wants to do is take away our wealth and spread it around the world.
“He hates this country, Larry,” Greg said, still unchallenged.
“He hates Americans,” Greg said. Not a word to stop the embarrassment Kudlow was bringing on himself and his program by refusing to say something as nonconfrontational as “What on earth do you mean by that?”
“He hates the fact that we live good,” Greg said.
“He’s been brainwashed since early childhood into Marxism and communism,” Greg said, and I pictured Obama’s grandmother reading him a bedtime story from “Das Kapital”: “Time for beddy-bye. Goodnight sweet Barack, goodnight. Give Grandma a kiss and always remember that ‘Capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of nature, its own negation.’ ”
Greg didn’t say how he knows all this, Kudlow didn’t bother to ask.
“He’s heartless,” Greg said.
Come on, Kudlow, you know this is ridiculous. You know it’s time to put a stop to this. But he didn’t.
“Look at his eyes,” Greg said. “There’s no soul in that man.”
Finally, Kudlow was heard. “You’re getting very personal,” he told Greg.
A sage observation. But he never told Greg that he thought he was nuts. He never questioned Greg about heartlessness and evil eyes.
These talk show characters have the same First Amendment rights we all have. But don’t they also have an intellectual obligation to step in and inform Greg and his kind that they sound crazed and that it’s time to end the monologue?
“I don’t like to be personal,” Kudlow said.
The next caller was Lou who said Obama is taking us down the road to socialism.
Jeffrey can be reached at email@example.com
By Carrie Jacobson
Zoe and Kaja round a corner on the road, and Zoe can smell her old neighborhood. It’s a light scent, but it is there, on the thin November breeze. She can smell the lake that the road crosses, and she can smell the road itself, and the trees and fields alongside it, and the tumble-down blue house that people are working on, and she’s so excited, she begins jumping and leaping around Kaja, and wagging her tail, and barking, and hopping up to lick her friend’s nose.
But it’s a long way from where they are to where they’re going, Zoe knows. And so she settles down, a little, and trots along behind her big red friend.
They pass the mansion, and turn down the road that goes along the lake. Zoe can smell the water and the pines and the particular grass that grows there. She has smelled this all her life, it seems. Most times, when the man took her out in the car, they’d come near here. Sometimes they’d stop, and the man would just sit in the car and listen, and pat Zoe, and talk to her in his calm voice.
And then, Kaja stops. She stands still, and presses her nose onto Zoe’s head, to still the small dog, too. Day is falling into night, and the shadows are deep and cold along the road. Zoe can hear animals moving. She can hear small branches breaking, and she can hear leaves moving.
Then, a deer stalks out of the woods. It’s a young buck, tall and heavy, the color of the fallen leaves. Antlers rise from his head. He holds his tail high. His eyes are huge, and his big ears twitch and turn. He sees Kaja, and the two stare at each other. Then, he turns and, with a flash of his tail, leaps back into the deep woods.
They’re starting to move again, when Kaja hears something else. She sniffs the air, and pushes Zoe toward the road. They cross, and hear something else and turn to look. A squirrel darts down a tree, and starts digging, and just like that, a coyote leaps on him and grabs him, closes his giant teeth over the squirrel and shakes him.
Kaja gets behind Zoe and pushes her into a run. They run down the road, and turn onto the main road. They run across the lake and up the hill and down. They run until they can’t run any longer. And that night, they sleep beneath the porch of a house filled with people and noise and the smell of cooking meat.
In the morning, Zoe is stiff and sore from being hit by the car. There’s frost on the grass, and the ground beneath their feet is cold and hard.
They push on, and as the sun rises, they trot along the edge of the road, and in a while, they come down the last hill, and there’s Zoe’s house, her sweet little house, standing on the corner, smelling just as it did when she left.
But then they get closer, and Zoe realizes she’s wrong. It doesn’t smell the same. It doesn’t smell right. And the car, that’s not his car. But she can smell his car, and his smell, and the woman’s smell, and her own smell. And she knows it’s the house. She knows it.
The two dogs walk up to the house. People are awake inside. The dogs can hear them, making noises and talking, making food. Kaja and Zoe sit in a patch of sun near the car. Zoe trembles from time to time, and whines.
And then the door opens. Kaja barks. Zoe leaps up. She cocks her head to hear his voice. She sniffs the air to smell his scent.
It’s all wrong. All wrong!
“Hey! You dogs! Get out of here!” the man yells. It’s not his voice! It’s not him! And then the man is running at them, yelling and clapping his hands, and Kaja sees that he’s about to kick at them, and she gets behind Zoe and pushes her, and they run away, as fast as they can.
Carrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org