I can’t go on! It is too much! The air burns and the ground scolds, even the water fails to cool! I cannot go on, just let me lie down, here in the sun, or there in the shade. It matters not where I lie, for everywhere I go, there is the wretched sun baking the earth!
Perhaps I should start from the beginning. The day had started innocently enough. Like most mornings, I awoke and proceeded to stretch, pressing my great paws against my bedroom door (hoping to push it open. It never opens when I will it.) It remained shut, so I stretched again thrusting my head through the roof. I surveyed the dark room, with only a hint of morning’s light beginning to shine through the window. There I sat, confined and unnoticed, so I proceeded to whine.
“Awwwrrrrrr, awwwrrrr, awwrrr.” Hey! Someone? Anyone? Let me out.
My cries for help fell on deafened ears as a shadowy figure in the bed next to mine buried its head beneath the covers and rolled away from me. That’s not the right response, I thought, Perhaps something more forceful is needed? A bark should do the trick…
“AwwwrrrrRoooff! AwwwrrrrRoooff!” HEY SLEEPY HEAD! WAKE UP!
That did the trick! A shadowy form leapt from the bed! It was none other than the male two-legger! I had startled him with my sudden noise (somehow the female two-legger had managed to ignore even my forceful barks.) Soon, my bedroom door was unzipped, and my day could begin! What adventures await?
But, first…my morning pee! Just off the steps, but not in the grass. The morning air already feels heavy and the metal boxes along the building (my sister’s secret walking path) are all running. I don’t know how, but these boxes keep the heavy air outside. Back inside, through the door, the air changes. It now feels light and cool, refreshing to the soul. Now, time for breakfast! Then, a nap on my two-legger’s lap (that way he can never leave me!).
Soon, I grow bored and restless. My sister is still asleep, the female two-legger is as well. Neither ever wake at morning’s first light. I look to the male two-legger for entertainment, but he is either sleeping or writing. BORING! Time to wake the girls, I want to play!
Stealthily, I crawl (fall) off the two-legger’s lap and begin sneaking towards the bedroom; I glance back one final time to ensure my intentions have gone unnoticed. He is oblivious. Now out of sight, my sneaking walk transforms into a full sprint as I charge into the bedroom and come to sliding stop next to the bed. Who should I wake first? Mom? No, my sister. I step towards her (the two-leggers never close her bedroom door. Isn’t that unfair?!), but her eyes open and a low deep growl rumbles out. Maybe not my sister.
Stepping back, I turn to mom; an evasive target high on her bed.
“Awwrrrrr, awrrrr,” I whine sitting back. I am ignored. Again, “Awrrrr, awrrrr,” and this time I place my front paw on the edge of the bed. There is movement! She is moving; undoubtedly, she will get up and play with me! But, then I feel a hand placed upon my head and it’s…
“Go away Mowgli,” mom says into her pillow as I feel a hand push against my face. I lose my hold on the bed, tipping back, back…thump. She pushed me over! Rude!
Mom clearly doesn’t want to play; dare I wake my sister instead? I look towards her and her eyes open to narrow slits. Again, I approach her, and the warning growl is given saying, “Don’t even think about it.” But, it is too late because I have thought about it, and what happens next cannot be stopped. My left paw raises high, followed by my right—a classic high step and pounce maneuver—bringing me closer to her bed. The next jump will be in her crate, landing on her face. Both paws are up, high in the air, descending in slow time, coming down…down…down…
Contact. My paws lie upon her brow. The room is silent.
Out of nowhere, without a warning growl or snarl, it hits me! A streaking, white and brown spotted linebacker, a tiny tank! My sister drives from her crate, charging paws first, swinging haymakers, and tackled me!!! I fall back against the door, no longer am I taunting or filled with joy, only fear remains. I have but one course of action, to run!
And she chases me! Oh, the joy! Oh, what terror!
Like I said, the day started innocently enough. But, then the two-leggers, apparently, decided my sister and I had too much energy and needed to go on a forever walk (sometimes, when the two-leggers talk they make a ‘hike’ sound, which my sister has informed me means forever walk). A forever walk is different than a ‘normal walk’, it always means seeing a new place, new smells, and the good ones will have a chance to go swimming! This all sounded awesome to me, but my sister was less thrilled.
I should have known this forever walk was a bad idea as we soon as we stepped outside. The first clue was the air changing; it was no longer cool and relaxing. Instead, the air became heavy and draining, stealing my energy and ability to breathe. Why was the air out here so different? And how could I return to my climate-controlled environment?
My next clue was when we entered the black lava fields. A normal walk means sprinting across these fields to green islands seeking sanctuary from the scorching fields. But, a forever walk always begins by riding in the black lava boats. I HATE these boats. When you first climb in, they are an oven; then I am always crammed into the backseat with my sister, and, worst of all, we ride in the boats for an eternity! Did I mention they are impossible to climb into?
After what felt like days (20 minutes) in the black lava boat, we arrived at a place called Umstead State Park. We jumped out of the boat, sprinted across the lava to a nearby island. These islands were awesome! Everywhere I turned there was green grass and trees! And where there are trees, then there are sticks! I love sticks! Sticks are the best! My excitement was almost enough to make me forget how heavy the air was, almost.
The two-leggers consulted one another about where to go (consulting a map and picking a route) and we were off! Into the woods in search of sticks…oh no! I need to POOOOOOP!!!! Stop the walk, stop EVERYTHING, I need to go NOWWW!!! Oh good, that’s better. Now we can begin our adventure. I wonder why the two-leggers insist on picking up and hiding my poop in a bag all the time? Oh well, if they want to carry it, then that’s their choice.
There, now we can truly begin the adventure! The trail was dirt, this is always a good thing; the trail we follow for ‘normal walks’ is actually a river of black lava and somedays, when the sun is really intense, I swear it boils under my paws. But, forever walks are on dirt trails under trees in the shade, and sometimes they lead to interesting places, like a place to swim. My sister says that some have lots of rocks for climbing and being a mountain dog; she says those are the best trails. This trail did not have any opportunities for practicing my mountain dog skills. It was a flat dirt path through the woods, with lots of sticks. However, there was a rumor that this trail crossed a brook; any trail that offers a chance for swimming (and chewing sticks) is a good trail.
When we had started down the trail, I was the lead dog full of energy and dad was constantly pulling me back. In fact, the two-leggers and my sister could not walk fast enough to keep up with me! Why were they not going faster? There were sticks and smells everywhere! Smells on trees and under leaves! Sticks just lying on the ground waiting for me! I found all of these on our way to the brook, where we enjoyed a refreshing swim. I could have stayed in that water forever, but the two-leggers said we had to keep going.
Something about the trail changed after we finished swimming. It no longer felt cool, but instead burned with a merciless heat. There were still trees and shade, but they provided no protection to the ceaseless heat. Somehow, the sun had warmed even the forest floor since crossing the brook. I could no longer ignore the air’s heaviness to search for sticks, my paws felt heavy and the air was too thick to breathe. The air even tasted warm as my sister and I panted. Soon I began to wonder if this forever walk would ever end.
My sister always suffers in silence. She communicates her dissatisfaction through looks at the two-leggers, but she never puts voice to her pain. And so, she always trudges on until the forever walk ends. I am not so stoic and do not endure pain noiselessly.
“Nnnn, nnn, nnn,” I cry to the two-leggers. I hope they hear, I’m tired. Can we stop? Let’s just stop right here. Will this walk ever end?
“What’s wrong Mowgli?” the female two-legger responds. “I think he’s tired. Just a little further buddy, we are almost to the end.”
“Nnnn, nnn, nnnnnnn.” No further. I’m tireddddddddd.
“Let’s stop up here in the shade. They both look like they need a break.”
Yes! They understood! My sister and I collapse in the dirt. This heat is too much, I have lost the will to eat sticks, to smell smells, to continue down the trail. Everything burns, the air is hot, the forest floor scolds. Is there no sanctuary? Just carry me home two-leggers and let this forever walk be done!
Somehow, we made it back to the lava boats. Inside the air was cooler, a perfect temperature for sleeping and dreaming of cooler times and cold weather.
Written in response to the Tuesday Photo Challenge, heat.