"One Lucky Runt"

in story •  last year

Let me introduce myself, I’m a single parent that was raising my family in the Virgin Islands for the past 15 years until Hurricane Irma came to visit in September 2017. We moved to the states in October and landed across the street from a vacant home. A fourteen-year-old boy, that was in the process of growing up there, had taken his life a month before.

Having never gotten the chance to meet him, I did not have the personal feelings of regret or guilt to cloud the pure feeling of sadness. I was able to think only of how he may have felt, without any of my feelings complicating things. I felt raw emotions walking my dogs every morning, past the swing-set in the yard, and it began to fill me with a yearning to help other kids. A wish developed; I wanted to reach ten-year-olds, and give them something to keep inside and take with them onto the rollercoaster of adolescence.

My thoughts were haunting me, what could the inner voice inside of a young boys’ head say to make him think this was the only way? I wondered, how could a child know that the inner critic is seldom accurate when there are some adults that have not learned this yet. I decided there was a way to let these young people know, and I started writing from my daughters perspective…

Chapter One: Meet the Runt

It was the first day of summer and I woke up with nothing to do and totally happy about it. My thoughts chimed in, “We are done with all that work from school,” and I agreed with a sigh of relief. I could have enjoyed that moment, but then I heard the voice in my head ask, “Who is going to be here to hang out? Everyone else has big travel plans.” I answered my thoughts, knowing there was no money for me to travel, and told myself that I was fine staying here for the summer.
The crunching sound of tires on the dirt road let me know my mother was home from work. I heard her saying as she came through the door, “Mazy, I need to talk with you.”
I tried to make my face smile, but I was hoping this would not be a long talk taking up my first summer night.
She sat down on my bed, not a good sign, and then she sighed, another bad sign.
I had a tempting thought, “Just say No, tell her you don’t want to talk.”
I knew I would not say that, but I did say impatiently, “What is the matter, Mom? Hurry and spit it out.”
My Mom started talking about her day at work, and her friend that had puppies three weeks ago. Now I was beginning to get interested. She got to the important part saying, “Michael has taken such good care of these ten pups, but he is really worried about the runt of the litter. He said he thinks the runt will die.”
“What?” She had my full attention, my voice came out high-pitched,“The poor puppy, Why? What can I do?”
Mom smiled and said, “I am glad you feel that way because I sort of told him we would take care of the runt until he is big enough to go back with his Mother.” My Mom went on explaining that Michael said the Mother dog was carrying the runt to the corner and leaving him while she fed the other puppies. I only heard half of her words, because I was too busy thinking how unfair this was.

My Mom said, “I had to stop this from happening, even though I did not think through how I would do that. It is going to take a lot of time.” Her voice trailed off, but mine took charge.

I said, “I am out of school, I have time.” I had a second thought about just sitting on the rock in my front yard and relaxing and the voice in my head sounded something like, “Wait a second, taking care of a puppy sounds like work.” I silenced my thoughts saying out loud, “I will take care of the puppy.”

My Mom said, “To save him is going to take all your time for weeks Mazy. I will help too, but I am so busy at work and getting ready for family and your brothers graduation.” She went on talking more to herself then to me, “I don’t know what I was thinking when I said I can do this, but if you can handle this responsibility, we can save his life.”

My mind raced, “What about sleeping in and staying out late with friends?” I shut my thoughts up, because there was nothing for me to think about. I said, “Yes I can do it!”

The second day of my summer vacation, my Mom woke me up early. I grabbed my phone and pushed down hard to see what time it was. My usually noisy mind was not awake and just said, “Grrrr.”
I sat up in bed growling, “Mom, it’s 7am, you are waking me up like it’s a school day...awwww,” my growling voice trailed off into a sound of utter adoration. I saw the tiny pup that fit in the palm of my Mothers’ hand.

I took him and gently snuggled him around my neck. He was so weak that he could not hold his head up. I had googled last night what we needed to feed him, and I asked my Mom to hurry back with goat’s milk and a bottle. She left and fear kicked in, “What if he dies, everything dies, don’t get attached.” I was gingerly petting his tiny body, feeling every rib and I ignored my fear and promised him that he was going to be okay.

It felt like it took my Mom forever to get back with the milk. “She never does anything fast enough, always has to stop and talk.” My mind defended her, she may have had to go to a few stores. We have four grocery stores on our island, but they are all small and goat’s milk is not your standard stock item. “Whatever, this is an emergency!”

The tiny puppy was frantically looking around for food, and he sucked on my neck trying hard to get milk out of my throat. The puppy tickled me so badly that he made me laugh out loud in spite of my fear. I heard the car pull up on our dirt road. “Finally.” The pup was so fragile that I did not want to move and I just lay still and listened to my Mom hurry to the kitchen to warm the milk up.

She came in soon saying that she almost gave up on finding goat’s milk. She was carrying a baby bottle telling me how she had dropped her sunglasses in the store and found a can on the bottom shelf. She was kind of panicky, and she admitted she was so worried that something would happen to the puppy before she got back and she would feel awful for leaving him with me. “When she says ‘happen,’ she means die.”

I got the chance to make her feel better, “Mom, I will not let anything happen to this puppy.”

We took turns holding the puppy like a baby and he frantically tried to suck but could not get anything out of the rubber nipple. This was a terrible moment, he was starving and it was not working. My Mom and I felt helpless. She tried to help, but there were too many hands. I felt like it was up to me, I tried but he would not suck. “He is dying.”

My mind is such a bully, it seems like when I need help the most, it tries to scare and intimidate me. My inner critic knew I did not know what to do and my thoughts came loud and clear, “You are killing it.”

I couldn’t take it anymore and dumped the warm milk in a bowl. The hungry puppy stuck his whole face in it. What a relief to hear those sucking sounds. It was a loud noise coming out of that tiny body, he was not using his tongue and lapping up the milk like dogs do. Instead, this little guy was acting like a vacuum cleaner and sucked the bowl dry. He lifted his black face up and it was white. He had milk up his nose and in his ears, it was a day full of relief and laughter. My Mom cried a few thankful tears. In that moment I knew I was going to be able to keep my promise and help him be better than okay.

If you think any kids are struggling, please feel free to share this outside the block. Engage them, and ask for their input to help make this story interesting to other kids their age. Children can’t help but be honest, share both the positive and negative in the comments. I look forward to the input and will self-publish next month on CreateSpace, but the book will always be available on Steemit. My goal is to get this book in as many young hands as I can, so if you like it, please request it from your library this spring. If you liked it, follow me on @Healthchain to get updates on the next chapter. Let’s help the runts of today, grow into the Alphas of tomorrow…

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