Thursday, August 22, 2013

Prompt: Rainbows, inmates, shelter, family, dog (use at least 3 of these)

Ivan thought he heard a different noise in the cacophony of thunder and violent winds. He cocked his head, listening for it again. There. A whine. He shook off the memory of his old dog Sacha, who hated thunder and climbed under his bedcovers whenever it stormed, which was most winter nights on the Georgian Steppe. If he closed his eyes, he could almost feel her soft fur against his leg, his fingers pressed against her neck for comfort.

He jumped up in irritation. It did not good to think of such things now. To remember only brought sorrow. It was hard to say whether he or Sacha was farther from their old home. He stalked to the panels he had painstakingly built to enclose his shelter, a cave high up the ravine, too far for all but the most intrepid climbers. There. Again. He pulled a rough hide over his head to protect from the acid rain and climbed through the space between the panels and the mountain wall.

It lay wrapped around a tree at the edge of the clearing, the rain had soaked through its fur and was eating its skin. As Ivan approached, it looked up at him with hooded eyes and thumped its tail on the ground, so much like Sacha that he couldn’t help himself. He reached down and picked it up, staggering under its weight. It leaned its chin on his shoulder and wimpered, closing its eyes against the rain. “Don’t eat me,” he said gruffly as he carried it back into his shelter.

Inside, he carried it all the way back to the stone basin and gingerly laid it into the cool fresh water. He rubbed its fur under the water, washing away the acid rain, which billowed out in cloudy yellow streams. As he carefully moved its body to wash back and front, top and bottom, each leg, the long tail, he saw it was a female. It took four full basins of his precious fresh water to rinse clear, and by the end, her eyes were closed and she rubbed her forehead under his hands. He pulled away.

“Climb out and shake yourself off. I have nothing to dry you. No food either, until the rain stops.” He scowled and stomped away. She crept out of the pool and stood quietly while the water ran off her fur. When she was mostly dry, she shook from one end to the other, turning into a large puffball of rust-colored fluff, with two bright green eyes peering out.

She padded over to where Ivan had curled on his sleeping pallet, her long claws clicking on the stone floor. She whined softly, and he scowled again, pointing to the floor. “You lie there,” he said in the same gruff voice. She lay where he pointed, facing him and watching him with her large green eyes. After awhile, he rolled over and faced the wall, but he did not sleep for a long time.

When he woke, she was lying beside him, pressed against his leg, and his fingers were deep in the fur at her ruff. He pulled his hand away and stood up. “Storm’s over,” he grunted. At the front of the shelter, he pulled away the central panel, and fresh air flooded in, carrying the metallic scent that filled the air after every storm.

He heard her claws on the floor but did not turn around as she approached. She butted his hand with her head. He brushed her long, tufted ears, then jerked his hand away. She was not Sacha. “You can go now,” he said, without looking down.

A curious effect of the rain and atmosphere, rainbows arced across the ravine in riots of color. Ivan studied them for a long time. She sat patiently by his side. He reached for his pulse rifle. It would recharge in the thin sunlight while he walked. “I’m going hunting. You can’t come. Go now, before I come back,” he said, facing out toward the ravine. He didn’t look back as he climbed down the steep face. She wasn’t Sacha. He didn’t want to miss her when she left. He didn’t want to be lonely all over again.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle
Itzhak Perlman, Vivaldi, “Spring”
Time writing:
35 minutes
August word count:

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