Chapter 01 - Frightened dog

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"Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope" - Elizabeth Gilbert

Monday 5:30 a.m.

King Kong, Morgan's white frightened Cairn Terrier and other neighborhood dogs were barking like crazy, our roof was rackling and the shrubs were violently banging against the rain drain and the kitchen window by the terrifying wind. Scary, but was somewhat expected. Yesterday's news announced the possibility of heavy winds greeting us on our morning commute, but nothing like this, nothing as heart pounding and frightening.

I glanced from clock to clock all around me. The stove, microwave, the digital box on the ledge under Blake’s wall-to-wall TV as they continued to steal precious time from me.

The radio was set on low, just loud enough for me to hear the traffic updates, weather and news before heading out to face the doom it forecasted.

The pantry, fridge door, sandwich-making-ingredients and the white container of mayonnaise with an upright eating knife in the middle cluttered the space around me as I raced to get out before 6:15.

I was putting together lunch for Morgan, myself, and fruits for Blake, while Blake tried to convince Morgan that is was time to get out of bed and start getting ready for school. Morgan slept through everything, and that morning was not different. She slept through the crazy wind that surely had the whole neighborhood on its feet since around 2:00 am.

Morgan often wished school started the same time as our church did on Sundays, 10:00 am. Thing is, we still had to fight with her to eat her breakfast with more urgency on those mornings to allow us time to get a parking spot and through the front door before 10:00.

Blake convinced himself that it was evenhanded with him having to sway Morgan out of bed in the mornings for school, and me making snacks and sandwiches. I had no argument with that. He had immense patience with Morgan. Plus, he was hardly the best person to have in the kitchen, searching for everything while the clocks ticked away at our time.

“Remember that I'm going to Frankie's today with Howard for lunch, so don’t pack me anything."  Blake shouted over the balcony.

“And remember not to leave the knife in the butter.” He mumbled under his breath while walking towards Morgan’s room.

He clearly intended to kill two birds with one stone with his Frankie’s reminder to me out load. His voice echoed throughout the wide-open space and surely into Morgan's room. It wasn't long before Morgan was downstairs, with sleep in her steps and panic in her eyes.

She stumbled towards me, confused and with her arms open wide in pursuit of her good-morning embrace. I met her half way across the floor, and while she was still in her strides I helicoptered her up to my chest. I hugged her tight and spun her around followed by a big kiss on her cheek.

“We're having lots of wind and rain this morning pumpkin, but don’t worry, it will calm down soon.”

Morgan was too caught-up into trying to track King-Kong’s exact location in the room. But her doziness and his inconsistent bark made him a bit difficult spot.

She didn’t hear a word I said.

“Not sure if you’ll be able to go to school today. I’m listening for school closing information on the radio but nothing so-far.”

“Blake, are you coming down, I have to go soon.” I shouted with my head tilted towards upstairs.

Morgan slowly glanced around the room, rubbing the back of her tiny fist across her eyes from left to right in a lazy motion. She did not say a word, just looking for her friend while still fighting the sleep that was fogging her vision. She shivered in silence as if she was cold. But it was only early September in kahoots with a nasty wind and pouring rain.

Morgan leaped out of my arms as I walked towards the island in the middle of the kitchen. With her 20/20 vision intact and the four feet high plant by the column now outside of her line of vision. She swiftly rushed across the room and grabbed her friend from his favorite sleeping spot between the large flowerpot and the pantry.

King-Kong barked and waggled his tail. He tried licking Morgan’s face to express his appreciation for the companionship, but struggled to make contact. Morgan playfully held him under his front legs, high and away from her face. She twirled him around, and around in jubilation.

Morgan disliked King-Kong licking her face, so she wouldn’t have it even as she tried her hardest to comfort and entertained him, all of this while putting her own anxiety aside.

Her efforts were in vain. She was unable to prevent the shrubs from banging against the rain gutter, the kitchen window and the whistling through the microwave vent. She was unable to cleanse the air of confusion for her small, frightened four-legged friend.

I was still scrambling to put together grapes, apples, bananas and all the regulars that became a part of my lunch-making routine. The light flickered on and off with each gush of wind, staying off for just a few seconds each time. The ghostly images cased by each flicker, along with the dreadful banging of the shrubs on the outside walls caused King-Kong to bark in synchrony with the neighborhood dogs on each occasion. The house vibrated as the wind crept in through the microwave vent and made the fan sounded as if it was on high, even though it was not turned on at all.

It annoyed Blake whenever I reached deep below the surface of the butter or mayonnaise tub in an effort to obtain the sufficient amount required for a full spread all at once. This rummage fell outside his neat, meticulous, organized approach to almost everything. It looked used and unappetizing. So he refused to have anything to do with any spread that suffered the wrath of my knife during sandwich making time. He also hated. No, disliked coming close to the kitchen during baking and supper making time.

I used all the available counter surfaces and all available containers in my reach. It made cleaning-up hell for him, and he hated that. But he had no choice in the mornings. We all had to get ready around the same time, so he threaded lightly.

King-Kong was still frightened by the unlikable noise and the panic in the air, so Morgan hugged him and rocked him left to right in her tiny arms to calm him down.

Blake finally made his appearance downstairs

“Wow! Looks like a bomb went off in here.”  He announced

Referring to my lunch-making project across the kitchen.

I intentionally left the upright knife in the mayo as I walked towards him for a hug.

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