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I WAS TOTALLY FLABBERGASTED TO LEARN THAT MY EARLY CHILDHOOD HAD BEEN AN EXERCISE IN ABSTRACT EXISTENCE PERFORMED BY AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY. HOW COULD IT BE THAT EVERYONE KNEW WHAT LYE BEYOND THE DARK CURTAIN HANGING JUST BEYOND MY REACH AND STILL, NOT A SOUL LET  A SLIVER OF LIGHT SLIP THROUGH THE TINY CRACKS OF THE CURTAIN AS THEY PEEKED WITH CURIOSITY TO SEE THE CHILD THAT BEEN PLUCKED FROM THE DEVASTATING SCENE WHICH IN REALITY HAD BEEN ACTUALLY OBSERVED BY VERY FEW OF THEM.

Privacy…the state of being free from…

Privacy.  Let’s see here, Google my friend, what do you say about privacy?  Ah yes, “the  state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.”  Dictionary.com says,” The state of being apart from other people or concealed from their view; solitude, seclusion…the state of being free from unwanted or undue intrusion or disturbance in one’s private life or affairs; freedom to be let alone.

However, neither of these definitions included, “unless you have children or pets.” If either of those are a part of your life, you generally have no clue to the meaning of that word, at least, not for many a year.

It began with the dog, you know. He was your dog. Only  three months old but totally bonded to you. You had picked him out of a group of rescues that were up for adoption. He was one of many tiny puppies from a puppy mill and had barely made it out alive. The rescue group came just in time. You adored him and he you. He stayed by your side for everything and you didn’t mind it at all. In fact, you thought it was wonderful.

Recently though you found someone else you adored and invited him over for dinner.  You and your friend were looking forward to a quiet evening on the couch watching movies. You made popcorn, sat down, started the movie and just as the opening scene came on, so did Rover.  Up,on the couch and in between the two of you. If your new friend looked at you or made a motion towards you, the dog gave that look that says, “Just try it.”  Rover just won the key to your private space and he is never going to give it back. You and your friend get through it, everything goes well, friend  becomes your Partner and in doing so  accepts that you, Rover and he  will be a threesome from here on out. Now, “here on out” quickly moves onto, yes, marriage and a baby. Yep, baby. Privacy  is starting to sound like a foreign language at this point. You and Partner often have laughed and questioned if the two of you would ever have any. Meanwhile,  Rover is hot on your heals as you go to get the crying baby from the crib that you just put him in sound asleep. Partner had popped the popcorn, and the opening scene was just beginning, with you, Rover, and Partner all in your respective spots (that’s with Rover in the middle you know) and as soon as your rear end hits the couch the wailing begins again. You bounce, you feed, you cuddle and sing but to no avail. The movie team just became a foursome. Baby on your lap, Rover in the middle, and the popcorn somewhere out of your reach.

Time goes on, the foursome together through it all. Rover whines at the bathroom door, sits by the tub as you take a bath, comes in from outside onto your lap to wipe his dirty feet on your apron and then smiles at you just before he runs to wake the now two-year old from the nap you just put him down for. The rest of the afternoon, Rover on one side, baby hanging on to your strings, you vacuum, dust, do laundry, all the days activities, including those few and far between bathroom breaks when Rover whines and Jr wiggles his fingers under the door saying, “Mommie,  mommie,”

You’ve given up the evening movie and try to work in a bit of news but you aren’t sure whether the police caught the bad guy, the bad guy ran off with the nun, the corner store is having a once in a lifetime sale on police clothing or the nuns are collecting donations for the inmates. All you know is that all those people were somewhere, somehow, involved in that broadcast  but so was Rover and Jr. who both needed a drink of water, a cookie, potty, and had an argument between the two of them about who got the nine by seven piece of baby blanket that had not been shredded through play and use in the two years they both claimed ownership of it.

The years go on and as it always has the privacy you looked for once Rover and Jr were tucked into bed each night escaped you because like clock work the minute you wrapped your arms around each other upon your sliding into bed, you felt the slithering of a little body up through the blankets right between you and heard the whisper of, “I’m cold, can I sleep with you?” as your feet became a pillow for the faithful Rover claiming his spot on the bed. Jr got old enough to handle the night by himself but  Rover took a liking to your feet and never left your bed.

You and partner grew used to the foursome, forgot about privacy, and learned the joys of the togetherness as a family through thick and thin, sickness and health, vacation, school, work, until the word made a comeback during Jr’s “teenage years.” Now the whole world revolved around “privacy.” Can’t I have a little privacy? I’m on my phone, I’m getting dressed, we’re studying, why do you need to know where I’m going, they are just friends, gee what about a little privacy.” You hear it all and wonder where this word came from. It certainly wasn’t one that stirred any remembrance of such a thing. Why, even Rover, knew nothing of what this strange word was about and Rover knew Jr like he knew every hair on his tail, which by the way, had begun to wag rather slowly these days. Rover, still stayed by your side, night time, day time, bath time and yes still even at toilet time. It had gotten to the point you had to stay by his too, especially at toilet time. Privacy wasn’t an issue between the two of you and Partner who welcomed Rover in the middle every chance he got.

Jr had just had his eighteenth birthday and had asked to have a party  just for he and his friends. Would you and Dad let us just have some privacy to play music, dance and have a good time in the basement room and you guys not be in and out like you always were. “We aren’t doing anything, we just want privacy,” he said.  Saddened but understanding, you let him have it.  Even Rover was banned from the festivities, which he had always been a part of, usually getting more than his fair share of attention because of his cute antics that Jr had taught him to do so well over the years.   You and partner and Rover  retired to the couch upstairs to watch a movie and eat popcorn and occasionally listen for the sounds of the party downstairs. It seemed to be going well.

Now, it was two days later, Jr was in his room  on his telephone with a friend, Rover laid on his blanket underneath your chair at the table while you busied yourself preparing dinner. Partner would be home in about fifteen minutes. Dinner just had to be set on the table. This was a good time to take Rover out for his walk. You got your jacket and turned saying, “Come Rover, let’s go boy. Rover?”   Rover didn’t budge. You stood frozen for a moment then rushed to his side. Nothing, no breath, no breathing, nothing. You gathered him in your arms as you sat on the floor. You yelled for Jr. who, although coming to answer your call, responded with, “Geeze mom, can’t you leave a guy alone for a minute? I said I needed some ……his words trailed off into silence.  Partner walked in the back door and they both stopped suddenly, seeing you on floor with Rover in your arms. Partner helped you up. Jr took your other arm trying to help you lift Rover as you rose. Partner supported your shaking body to the couch and helped you sit, still with Rover in your arms.

“Mom, what can I do? How can I help? Mom?”

Partner, took Jr by the elbow, tears in both their eyes, and guided him out of the room. The room with the couch where you had sat with Rover in the middle, almost every night for the past twenty years.

As they left you heard Partner whisper softly, ” There is nothing we can do now Jr., except  give mom and Rover a little,  privacy.”