I love my pets. I’ve had so many over the years. My first pet was a rat. I asked my parents for a hamster or a gerbil when we went to the pet store, but the rats from the laboratory down the street were being given away for free. Many that squirmed around the box on display outside the lab seemed to have peculiar behavior characteristics and personalities. I reached into the box of squirming mass and pulled out the first one. We walked back down the street to the pet store, where we bought a hamster cage, some wood chips and a hamster wheel. My pet rat would run on that wheel every day, non-stop. Eventually, it figured out that it wasn’t going anywhere. So it snuck out of its cage late one night, and I never saw it again. And when my family moved to the farm, I befriended some of those animals as well. One of my first was a cow I tried to milk. Once I got down and discovered I wouldn’t be able to, the bull got angry. So I got up, grabbed it by the horns, and pulled its face to mine to set the situation straight. Every time I went back to visit it in the pasture, we had to go through the same dance, horns locked, until one day it rushed me while my back was turned, spurned by my red t-shirt. The thrill of running with a bull stayed with me for a long time, and my next pet would be a Siberian tiger. I spent years training it to jump through hoops and put up with all of my ridiculous outfits better than the bull had. We performed stupid tricks to entertain others who must’ve not understood the impact of effective teaching techniques. But no matter how hard you train a tiger, you cannot betray its instincts and feral knowledge. It reverted back for one wrong moment and ate my sister. Since I wasn’t allowed to have another tiger as a pet, I decided to go with something slightly less ferocious. A bunny. Not the egg-laying, idol worshipping kind that brought cavities to children and dental bills to parents. But the timid, fluffy kind that wanted nothing more than the occasional carrot. So cute, its little nose twitched as it nibbled on the carrots. Rabbits surely must have great eyesight. And strong hind legs as well. That’s how it got away. I was holding it, petting it in my arms when it pushed away and hopped out of my life. That was when I decided I needed a more fun and adventuresome pet in my life. So I went to the cave up the street from my house, prepared collar in hand. I solved the requisite puzzles to make my way deeper through the caverns, and finally arrived to the aptly named ‘Central Lair’, where it was that I tamed my first dragon. It flew us back home on its back, and slept in the pasture where the bull used to graze. It was ‘hidden’ from my parents until they discovered the scorch marks in the pasture. Apparently my pet dragon had come down with a cold. My parents warned me about the dangers of keeping a domesticated dragon, not for the danger but that the temptation to cause mischief would be too great to resist. And they were right, so I had to get rid of it. Sticking with the reptilian variety (of which I’m sure dragons must belong), I decided to go with its wingless, flameless brethren, the anaconda. My pet anaconda loved apples more than my rabbit enjoyed carrots. It was cute in its own way, too. Flicking its forked tongue it sought the apples I gave to it. The anaconda also loved to hide in the corners, crevices and betweens, and what made this inconvenient was the fact that my pet anaconda had inherited chameleonistic traits in its evolution, enabling it to pattern itself like the fabrics of my furniture, or the hard wood floors that it slithered around on. Eventually, it was so well hid from me that I lost my pet anaconda and had to move back to greener pastures. Being the loyal shepherd I was, I began tending flocks of sheep, and one of them became my favorite pet. Sheep were so less temperamental than my other pets. They were content to do as guided, and only needed to be sheared once a year. The problem with such herdable creatures, through, is that they will heed anyone who decides to lead them astray. And when some stranger led my flock away from me, I had to find a new pet. My next pet was another creature that enjoyed wide pastures as well, but had the ability to think for itself. My parents started by giving me riding lessons, and once I learned to ride in the saddle, they bought me a wild horse for a pet. Fast, strong and independent, my horse rode like the wind, galloping itself to constrained freedom with not a care in the world, but me on its back. But I think horses value their freedom even more than we do, and it finally galloped away without me. So I needed a pet I could communicate with, one that could understand me and I it a little as well. So I bought a pet chimpanzee. Extraordinarily intelligent, my pet monkey was like having a small child, smart as can be, but still needing love, nurturing and affection. And my monkey loved to play, too. Games that were fun, that made me laugh, and created memories I cherish to this day. I think my monkey got caught by a circus or a zoo, though, abruptly ending our time together. Every time I visit one of those places now, it makes me reminisce. I needed company now and someone to talk to again, so I got a pet bird instead. Not only could it talk (by repeating only phrases I taught it) it also sang the most beautiful songs. But the conversations became redundant, unless someone else was in the room, and the songs woke me when all I wanted to do was sleep. And birds, being the fluttering, fleeting creatures they are, fly away when they are afraid to nest. And it became so. What I really needed now was loyalty, something to be my best friend. So I bought a dog. Famed for being hardworking, loyal and playful, they are known as some of the most loving and thus ideal pets. They’ll eat anything, are easily entertained by anything you throw (or pretend to), and they’ll wait for you faithfully whenever you may go, breath more bated than stale. And their furball pups are so cute, too! But despite all of their acclaim, dogs aren’t the most intelligent creatures in the domestic kingdom. Not dumb, just domesticated into a pathetic shadow of their wolf ancestors. My dog chased a ball across the street without any concern for traffic, and was struck by a car. I took it in to the vet, but I couldn’t sustain the millions of dollars to keep it alive, not while maintaining the electric and water bills of its dog house. Such a loyal pet, but I could not do the same and had to let it go. Down on my luck, I didn’t know what else I should get for a pet. I kept searching, but couldn’t find anything that suited me anymore. What’s worse, it seemed many of the potential pets didn’t even want me. Such disdain; a saddened state of affairs to be undesirable to those who indiscriminately crave to be loved by anyone. If I really wanted a pet, another in my life, and if I didn’t have the patience to wait for one to come along, I had to settle for something less than a wiser man could pursue, because I felt that I deserved at least something. There is a large chasm between waiting for what you want or just taking whatever you can. I couldn’t achieve the balance to straddle the chasm, so I broke in, I settled, and I got a pet pig. Not cute (piglets deceive to boot), dirty, sloppy creatures that roll around in the mud all day, covering themselves with all sorts of shared filth and slime. I’m sure they’re not so bad beneath the stench and the dirt, between mouthfuls of slop we do them no perceptive justice by feeding. In fact, maybe the truth is that it’s what’s inside that truly counts. I don’t think I really need any pets. Now I just feel like I want some bacon.
The thief stole my heart, crystal as it were. Made of shards, liable to shatter, yet such beauty as it beholds made it the object of the thief. None so fair could otherwise steal it, valued as it was. After numerous close calls from picked pockets to B & E of my car, I left it at home. There it was, under a jar, floating in the confined space, refracting light as it slowly rotated and bobbed. Lights low, my heart was protected as I snuck out of the house every day. The heart did not belong to anyone else. I swear it was mine alone. But one day, the thief stole it. Removed from my home, it would not last long, and as it faded away, my life would become gone. Perhaps the thief didn’t know any better, but consequences are all the same. I died a little each day, while I was sure the thief smiled at others, and lived its days as though nothing was wrong. Draining my energies, the absence of my stolen heart acted as a vacuum inside of me. The thief never sold my heart, though. Of that I’m sure. For then I could have found it. Bought it from another at a steep price. Unreasonable purchase would it not if it were not so valued. For it opened up a black hole in me, a chasm that slowly drained away my existence. This unstable state of matter made me more desperate, and less cautious in pursuit of what had been lost to me. With caution caught up by a draft and tossed about by a breeze, I became more susceptible to the loss that made me so vulnerable. I risked more and was rewarded less, allowing the thief the opportunity to pounce once again. Such vulnerable prey I became, dying in the wilderness, stalked by the hunter who cannot and utterly refuses to relent.
And it happens at the right moment, just the right moment, when I am weak and no longer able to fight. I give in. The thief strikes again. Taking my voice, the only thing I had left. Without a voice, without a say in the matters at hand, the thief overpowered me. Then I woke up in a hospital, bruised broken, missing parts, pieces of me I likely didn’t even know that I had. My veins are now empty, because there is no more life or blood to pump through them. Sometimes when things are stolen, you regret. But regrets beget naught. They serve only to sharpen the sting of the memories of loss. Heartless thieves they would be, had they not stolen mine own. And then, when I thought I had already lost everything, the thief stole from me once again. The thief took my parts, dismantled the ‘me’ from me. Fully expended, now a heap of rubble, inconsolable to the nurses who are paid to care for their patients. But no patience means they don’t have to care. They did try to fix me, though, sent in the horse-faced nurse and all of the doctor men. But alas, they couldn’t put me back together again. So they sent me home packaged in a box and kept my bank account in lieu. There I was, a box of pieces that nobody wants. Finally, though, there is nothing more for the thief to steal. There’s just a box of miscellaneous parts that hold no value to anyone but their original owner. But thieves are greedy. They take, then take some more, until others are wont to suffer throughout time. I would give anything to rid this world of such thieves. But I no longer have anything left to give, at least nothing anyone would want. So I decided to sell my soul to a greedy little vendor of favors. He told me I could start over, begin renewed. Liar. Thief. Nothing changes. Especially not time. Not ever. Forward, forward, hurdling unstoppingly, taking with it any chance of ‘what if?’ or ‘once, before’. Those are the last things they stole from me. The thieves may have this world now, but I pray someone will steal it back from them, in time.
She rewarded him for waiting so long. It had been 100 years. Sure she had been unfaithful, but now they could be together again at last! It had been during the last war of 100 years, their love separated by nations, separated by war. She said she would wait for him forever. But that couldn’t happen. Because as she waited, she grew restless, because she was yet courted as though her husband no longer existed, though he did. Her suitors pried and questioned, probed until she was molested, asking for her hand in a literal moment, with perhaps more to follow. And she couldn’t resist. Weak without her husband’s arms to fall into each and every night, she succumbed to the embraces of others. She welcomed them into her home, without ill intent, to paint the house, or move furniture, or help her perform any number of her former’s husbandly tasks. And they took advantage. Licentious, vile men, with no considerations for others’ claims, desires or needs. They behaved upon their instincts, reckless, careless, inconsiderate of what relations they could destroy. But she let it happen. She provoked them with her clothing, her exposed flesh, that those undisciplined creatures could not control themselves. She accepted their initial advances, afraid to withstand what her lonesomeness feared for lack. And she allowed their touches to wander, placed hands and closened bodies with parts that her husband could not accept, though understanding he could sometimes be. It is difficult to wait 100 years with so many pursuits waiting to offend. And once one entered, he paved that wrongful path for others. There was no stopping them now. Pursuit and coyness, contact and acceptance, lustful thrusts at the end of once inadvertent paths. There was no turning back. She had betrayed him through faults, and others through the same.
But he had waited 100 years. Hundreds of miles and an international boundary apart, he would hop on a rocket to fly back to her, if he could. At the start of the war, he had been sent to the northern border, tensions with every flinch or flicker, a hair-trigger ready to resume the war. And there he waited, not a movement, not a sound. And when his rest cycle came, he wrote to her. How much he loved her and missed her and wished they would be together again. And his luck would find such a reward, initial though it would be. He was granted mid-tour leave, and traveled home, full of elation, and all the anticipated pleasures of holding her in his arms again. Waiting for a shared embrace, and wondering if it would lead to romance, or even love-making. It could happen a thousand ways, and he imagined every possibility, lost in his fantasies the entire flight home, only interrupted by such lesser stewardesses than the steward of his cupid’s heart. And when he finally departed the plane, his elation wasn’t intervened by her absence, because he knew her limitations. And that couldn’t stop his love. So he continued headstrong to her supposed waiting embrace and met her at their lovely home. Somebody’s car was in the driveway. They were pulling away. He went up to the door and knocked. She yelled to him to “just come in.” She smiled nervously when he saw her, and continued washing the dishes in the sink. “It’s hot,” was how she explained her clothing. He didn’t care. He started to kiss her, and pauses for slight words led them eventually to bed where they made love. She made a comment when he finished, and their joyous reunion was complete, discussions returning to the material for the remainder of his visit, until he had to return to his employ and obligations.
He was returned to the eastern front of the war. His efforts there would lead to an eventual accumulation of awards, medals and promotions to rival Audie Murphy himself. He was the most competent private, executing every assigned task or detail to perfection, pleasing his NCOs beyond delight. But he still managed his recovery time well, with a “Sergeant, can I write home to my wife tonight?” These same NCOs became his senior NCOs when he finally joined their corps. Nobody was more professional than he. All his soldiers loved him, and that helped his senior leadership by allowing him and his men to accomplish every mission successfully. And when he grew into the ranks of senior NCO, all of his wisdom earned over half the war earned him the respect of his subordinates, and great trust and confidence placed in him by the officers appointed over him. In the second half of the war he earned a battlefield commission, and though overtasked as he was, he still managed sit down after meetings following meetings before meetings, and wrote to his wife love letters or poems. He never heard back from her. He continued to work, expend every energy save for that one letter back home, and eventually he took command. As a commander he won every decisive engagement in the field, and some not so decisive back in garrison. And by the time he had commanded units through flawless campaigns, they decided to make him a general. He wrote home to tell his wife about his new positions, how it bothered him that they wasted and entire PSD team on just him, and that they even assigned him personnel to take care of his laundry. His secretary followed him around and scheduled and took notes for his mind to be free for decisions. He knew he could do everything himself, yet his wife never wrote back to tell him whether she agreed.
When he returned after 100 years, things were strange. He tried to resume where they left off. It began with that first embrace, the heart-pounding thrill of holding the woman who loved him, the pure elation of holding her tight in his arms again, swinging her around and around, then setting her down and peppering her face with kisses, her soft cheeks, her lips, eyes closed, the reckless abandon of unfettered love. Eventually, though, they had to leave the airport. Dismay. But not before long they were back home, mere steps inside the doorway before they started again, passion overtaking 100 years’ worth of cares and worries, every kiss worth 1,000 ‘I miss you’. Her warmth and her soft skin rekindled a fire that was burning furiously for her now. But she made him stop. They had to bring in his bags from the car. Quickly completing tedious hindrances, that first night back with her awoke his full passions once more, never alight but wrought through 100 years of sufferance that could finally be appeased. Their renewed honeymoon would not sustain though, and could not last. He tried to buy her things like before, and spend more time together as well, but he would start to see that she was different now. Lovers once, lovers always, but not forever, no. He took her out, tried to begin life anew, though it was not. 100 years had changed the both of them, irreconciled them for eternity, whether they realized it or not. He tried to involve her in his life, and she a little him in hers, but they were two separate lives now, having been experienced as strangers, with others, but never each other. Yet every fool is taught to believe in impossible, to believe in what we know cannot be true. Truly, 100 years? How absurd. But he refused to believe so. And he didn’t realize until it was too late. He tried to pamper the woman who wasn’t anymore his, and she tried to accept him. But after 100 years, the best answer wasn’t ‘forever’. It was never, outrageous though it may seem to erase their history of 100 years.