I closed my eyes, preparing for the animal to rip me to pieces. What happened next was unexpected.
“Hey honeybee.” It was Tony! I didn’t know how he had gotten there or why he had come, but it was Tony.
I stared at him, a mix of incredibly surprised and kind of confused. Finally he got off of me, and I stood up.
“What are you doing here?” I asked him. “I’m not a dog, Tony. You need to find a new best friend.”
“I don’t wanna,” He argued. Then the saw the look on my face. “I promise I didn’t know,” he said. “Roger kept it from all of us.”
“I know,” I said. “But I live here now. There’s way fewer people, more trees, and maybe somewhere around here there’s even another fox.”
He looked at me with an expression on his face that I’d never seen before. Almost as if he was more scared than I was, so I sat down next to him and let him talk.
“We miss you a whole lot, honeybee. Roger only kept it from you to protect you, and he never told me because he knew I’d tell you. Max hasn’t eaten or slept since you left, and Cleo…..” he paused, swallowed hard and spoke slowly. “Cleo’s gone.”
I jumped up. “Where’d she go off to?”
“The dog catcher came,” said Tony. “She was the only one not fast enough to escape. She’s old, no humans are gonna take her in.”
“We gotta break her out!” I yelled, then I suddenly stopped. “You gotta break her out.”
“Come on Millie,” he begged. “You gotta come back. Like I said, Roger was only protecting you.”
“I don’t need protecting!” I yelled. “I can take care of myself as you can see.”
“I know that,” said Tony. “But Roger doesn’t.”
“Well then let him see for himself.” I ran off, but before I had run too far I glanced back ever so briefly, and saw Tony sitting there. He wouldn’t leave, I mean he’s Tony, but he couldn’t come after me because I’m faster than him, so I just turned and kept running.
I reached a place where there were fewer trees, and the grass grew long and covered me almost completely.
I continued to run, but the grass tripped me and I fell.
I stayed down for a minute, realizing I might never see Tony again. I don’t know why, but I closed my eyes. My life came back to me, the memories, the happiness, a time when running from the dog catcher was the only downside, and it meant nothing because I was with my family, and nothing could change that. I thought of Tony, running, barking, laughing, trying to keep up with me in races, and getting into trouble with me just so that we could find a way out.
I couldn’t handle it, I decided to stop feeling.
Suddenly I felt dead, not the kind of dead that Roger used to tell me about, where you go and live in the clouds and look down on everyone and have no problems, the kind of dead where you just stop living, and nothing happens. You can’t think, you’re like a robot, and you can’t be depressed because you just can’t feel anything.
I heard a bark and a whimper, and I heard Tony struggling, but I didn’t feel it. Everything was a dream, and nothing made sense. Suddenly I think I woke up, something had grabbed me and was swinging me around so violently that I wasn’t sure if I could move.
It threw me against the ground. I got up and looked at it for a second. It was huge and furry, and it was making some sort of growling moaning sound. I couldn’t tell if it was angry or why, but it was trying to kill me!
“What’s your problem?!” I said before dodging a blow.
I heard yelling, “Millie!”
I jumped onto the creature’s back and then back off again before he rolled over. “Tony!”
I couldn’t take the creature down, so I ran to the trees. It chased me. When I reached the trees I made as many tight turns as possible, like Max had told me to do whenever running from something bigger than I was.
The creature was falling behind, but one problem still remained, where was Tony?
I saw a large hole in one of the trees and jumped into it. The creature ran past it, and once it was out of sight I jumped out and yelled, “Tony!”
There was no response, so I ran back to where I had left Tony. I wanted him to either be there, or for the place to be empty.
When I got there, he wasn’t there, but to make it worse the place wasn’t empty. There were claw marks in the dirt, and a puddle of blood. A long streak of blood trailed from it and ended under a tree, where Tony’s body was lying.
I ran over to him. “Tony, please don’t be dead!” I almost screamed.
He just lay there. I shoved him. He didn’t move, he wasn’t even breathing, and I felt the world go silent as if time had frozen.
I remembered something Roger had told me, “Stay strong kid, the worst thing that you can do in a fight is let the enemy see you weak.” Then I realized that the enemy had already taken everything.
Slowly, my eyes closed, and water poured out of them. I couldn’t speak. I felt as if my heart had stopped beating, and everything in the world that mattered was gone.
Then something broke the silence, “See why I need you, honeybee?”
Tony wasn’t dead! I was so happy I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I hugged him really tight.
That was the day I realized that I need Tony just as much as he needs me.
To be continued in “Millie: a story of family (part 3)”