A Safe Haven

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: February 02, 2018

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Submitted: February 02, 2018

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It was getting late enough to be worried. I once again stepped into the balcony and looked down. Except for a drenched street dog that was lying down miserably near the gate, there was not a soul to be seen anywhere. Rainwater had puddled under the lamppost. A breeze ruffled the mango tree in the courtyard and a few twigs fell down and broke. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Did I hear a soft knock at the door? I turned back, listening intently for the next few seconds, from the corner of my eye I saw the street lamp flickering for a moment, I waited for a second knock but there was none. The air was heavy with the smell of rain and thunder. I turned to look at the wretched creature, I had somehow caught his attention and he started wagging his tail looking up at me with soulful eyes. I was so conflicted about dogs, I wanted to like them but they somehow made me wary and I could never let my guard down in front of them.  Moreover, they smelled so foul; I couldn’t even bear to be in the same room as one. I am especially afraid of the larger ones with huge unsightly jaws that really unnerve me. A distant rumble of thunder shook me to my bones; I never liked thunder and rain or anything too wet or loud. The branches of the tree traced shadows like wiry arms on the courtyard, shadows long and dark. My anxiety was worsening with every passing moment, where was he? Another streak of lightening forked the sky, followed by a deep rumble of thunder; I scurried back to the living room.

I curled on the sofa, laying my head on the cushion, trying to bask in his warmth and his smell or whatever was left of his essence. He would say that nights like these when the rain pounded on the streets he would feel as if he was in the middle of a mystery or a crime thriller. He loved the rains, and would spend many wet evenings on the balcony with a cup of tea and I would snuggle up beside him of course, listening to his stories. I hated the rains, the constant pounding of water against the concrete and sudden blinding flash of lightening following by ear-splitting thunder, what was there to like? I didn’t even like the smell of damp dank earth after every heavy downpour. I am usually quite content to spend the day without him, by myself and am quite apt at keeping myself busy…but the rain brought in a sense of insecurity and despondency, a case of nerves…and I hated feeling helpless. Another fifteen minutes had gone by, I could hear the ceaseless tick-tock-tick-tock emanating from the wall clock, adding to my present sense of doom. I sprinted to the balcony; did I hear an engine buzzing? A stranger’s car zoomed past the gate, splashing water on the poor dog, it yelped and ran away. The wind rustled the leaves of the mango tree, I sulked back to the sofa, feeling quite angry and anxious, where was he? He should be home by now…did I hear footsteps? A second knock at the door startled me, this time more persistent and loud, rat-tat-tat…one after another. I darted to the bedroom, cowering under the bed; I was never good with strangers or was it a burglar? I wished the stranger would go away, where was he? He would have handled such situations much better, my sense of hopelessness and helplessness deepened.  I lay trembling on the floor for a very long time even after the knocks had died down and I heard the stranger walk down the stairs. I was always on guard with new people; I knew how cruel they could be. I was a mere child when those boys threw sticks at me and mocked me…I never had quite grown out of this fear and suspicion I had for strangers. Although he treated with so much kindness after I moved in with him, I would always be fearful of people. I closed my eyes and lay still on the floor.

 Another thirty minutes had gone by, I finally decided to move out of my so-called hiding place and walk back to the balcony.  There was no sign of him or anyone else on the rain swept road, the storm was petering out but wind was still howling, I shuddered involuntarily, fearing for his well being. I knew my survival depended on him, my sense of security and happiness; I would be quite lost without him. I remembered how he nursed me when I was a child and took care of every one of my needs; he gained my trust slowly and painfully. There were long nights when I wouldn’t be able to sleep and would keep pacing around the house, he would hold me close and I would listen to the steady rhythm of his heartbeat slowly fall asleep. I felt how inseparable we had became over the years, companions and friends for life! I would also sense his uneasiness or his sorrow and would rest my head on his shoulder, kissing his neck, till he would calm down. I could not imagine life without him now, I have grown so attached to him, and he is the only one I trusted. For him I would even tolerate the other “friends” he would often bring home, however I am always quite aloof with them. No one affected me the way he did; he is my person. 

The clock struck midnight, it was about time. My anxiety had heightened my sense of hearing and smell more than usual. I could hear the distant reverberation of traffic from the main road near our street, the winds wailing; I could smell the rain, the mud and rain soaked leaves. I was on edge and about to have a breakdown.  Standing on the balcony for quite sometime, I noticed that the car I had seen earlier was still there, outside the gate, lurking in the shadows! Did the stranger not leave? Was he waiting for someone? Was he waiting for him? I almost screamed with fright, why was the person still there? I saw smoke billowing out from the open windows, and the air reeked of its awful stench, the stench of burning tobacco. This was the worst! I stood rooted to the spot, petrified, as the stranger opened the front door of the car and strolled out. He was standing in the shadow of the lamp post, I could barely make out his silhouette; puffing away on a cigarette his body slouched against the car, his right hand on his hip. I started to hyperventilate. This is it! This must be someone dangerous, why else would he wait outside for so long, like a predator in the shadows, so inconspicuous…I knew one when I saw one, the stealthy stance and the patient wait, he didn’t have me fooled! I wished I could do something, I wished the dog would come back and bark at him (sound of barking would normally drive me crazy!) and urge him away…where was he?  After what seemed like an eternity, the man finally finished his smoke and stomped on the cigarette butt on the road, got back inside his car and started the engine and drove off. I heaved a sigh of relief; this was turning out to be the worst nights of my life. I couldn’t take the stress any longer and started pacing around the balcony, agonizing over every passing moment.

I don’t remember when I fell asleep, outside in the cold, waiting for him. I was dreaming of strange whirling shapes and sirens blaring in the background. My body was so numb and heavy that I couldn’t move a muscle. I felt like I was suffocating in my deep slumber. A sudden noise awoke me I looked up; alert and wide awake in a moment. I ran inside, desperate to do my best given any situation, and then I saw him…He was taking his shoes off, for a moment I was so overcome with emotion that I couldn’t move…then I ran to him, rubbing my body against him, walking around him. He smiled at me and picked me up in his arms, my safe place…

“Did you miss me my shona?” His voice soft and low, and then he began to stroke me behind my ears, just the way I liked it, I purred with pleasure.

“Was daddy away for too long?” His fingers rubbed my back pushing my fur back. I was shaking with ecstasy.  I could also look at him and blink in slow motion; I had forgiven him instantly for leaving me alone on such a night. The important thing was that he was safe and he was back. My night of horrors seemed to have ended; I was safe and happy. 


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