The hardwood floor gives slightly as I pad, nude, to the doorway. Sara lingers behind, packing up the first aid kit. My eyes scan the kitchen and living room looking for our pet, Tara. She was so deep in the pet persona she could be anywhere, getting into anything. My grin, at the thought of our girl, fills my face like a cheshire cat.
I spot movement behind the giant red fox we got Tara to mark our one month anniversary. Then I hear it and my breathe catches. My heart shudders to a near stall and my whole body goes still.
Quiet sobs echo off the brick walls.
She must have seen us.
My heart fills with pain and regret. I rush over to her pen, practically running the twenty five feet. She’s crying. Her tears break me. Each one a testament to how badly I’ve failed her. But that doesn’t matter now. My problem, my pain doesn’t matter now.
I open the latch and she looks right at me, her face a mask of fear. She scoots back away and I feel like I’m going to throw up. I can’t stand this wild fear. The face of someone who is lost in the world.
I get on my hands and knees and and crawl to her. The sounds of her whimpers, so like ambrosia earlier are as ashes on my tongue. I’d do anything to take that fear from her. But, you can only kill a man once. Mores the pity.
I gather her in my arms. Holding her to my heartbeat and murmur, “come back to us, little one.” Tears spill down my face, trickle past my chin and down my neck. I’m lost to this moment. In misery. I’m a failure. I can only hold her and hope she forgives me.
Sara pulls up next to me. I didn’t hear her. She nestles against Tara. Comforting her with her presence. Her fingers intertwine with mine. I take hold of myself. Stop the tears and just hold Tara. Our love.
“We’ll fix this. Make this right,” I whisper.
“Tara, love of our life, this is a broken world. But you are not broken.”