Read FREE! Episode Six of Imagine: Life on a Chain. His Greatest Fears

I’m feeling covidy today; but alas, there are no tests to be had in my town during this omicron outbreak, so I’m just staying in bed and reading…not so much a hardship, then, eh? This does mean I ALMOST didn’t publish today’s episode, but didn’t want to break my promise in case I have someone actually waiting on tenterhooks {ha!}, so here we go…

Remember, if you need to catch up, start at this link, then just follow the links at the bottom to the next episode.

Imagine…Life on a Chain

Episode Six: His Greatest Fears

The Middle of the End

Imagine and Dream moped downstairs, while an eerie silence took hold of what was once their warm, safe home. Dad had rushed off to the hospital after Mom, and the two dogs felt scared, alone in wondering what was happening and if they would ever see their mom again.

It was many hours before Dad came through the door, the sadness apparent on his face as he brushed a hand over his eyes and rubbed down toward his mouth. The dogs waited patiently, sitting quietly nearby and hoping for Dad to tell them something, anything.

Dennis sank heavily onto his kitchen chair. He looked at Val’s empty teacup beside him and tears began to work their way down his cheeks. He suddenly sprang to life, grabbing a scrub brush and a bucket of soapy water and ferociously swiped at the kitchen tiles, trying to remove every last spot of blood from Mom’s fall.

His anger spent, he sank back against the cabinets and looked at the dogs. “Come here, Imagine, Dream,” he called in a hushed voice. The dogs were nervous; negative emotions filled the room, and nothing felt the same. Their home was normally a happy one, but today everything was different. The siblings obediently crept to Dad’s side and lay down, heads in his lap.

The three sat for what seemed like hours, Dad running his hands through their fur and talking to them softly. They didn’t understand much of what he told them, but they knew from his tone that they had probably been right about Mom.

“I don’t know if you guys have noticed lately, but Mom hasn’t been well. I kept after her to go to the doctor, but I think she was afraid to hear any bad news, so she refused to go and played it down. She told me it was just a cold, just a headache, just a little tweak or twitch that would go away. I think she’s been in a lot more pain than I realized.

“They did a bunch of testing at the hospital . . . It’s the worst news we could imagine. Mom has cancer, and it’s all through her body; there’s nothing they can do. On top of that, she now has pneumonia, and they don’t even know if she will ever come home again.

“How is this possible, Imagine?” Dad asked brokenly. “Just last week we went on that hike to Red Rock, remember? Yeah, she was slower than usual, but so was I. I figured it was just our age getting to us. I had no idea she’s been this sick for this long.”

Imagine licked Dad’s hand, wishing he was a human too so he could take away some of Dad’s pain.

Dennis was sobbing now, holding both dogs tightly to his chest while long, mournful moans shook his body.

Imagine looked to Dream and whined, wondering what they could do. Surely there had to be a way to fix everything?

Dream shook her head, and then tried the only things she knew. She trotted downstairs and brought Dad offerings like she did with Imagine—first a ball, then a stuffed animal, and finally her leash and the promise of a walk. But nothing roused Dad from his stupor until she carried her dog bowl to him and dropped it in his lap. Dad blinked his bleary eyes and focused on her face for the first time.

“Oh, I’m sorry, guys. I’ll bet you’re hungry. Forgive me,” he sniffed, and then stood shakily to his feet, moving slowly about the kitchen to ready their dinner.

“Here you go. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was so late…” his words trailed off, and he stumbled toward the stairs, pulling himself up the railing and to his bedroom. Ignoring their food, the dogs followed, watching as he fell fully-clothed onto the bed and lay motionless. The rise and fall of his breath were the only indications he was still of this world.

The chained dog jerked from his reverie, peering about for signs of danger. Thomas still stretched across the grass nearby, but he’d moved into a new patch of sun to stay warm. “Magnum” stood and yawned. As painful as his current life was, he recognized that day as the start of his slide into what he would become…

Imagine and Dream curled into their beds on the floor, wondering what would become of them as they watched everything they loved slipping away…  

Next Episode: Mom Comes Home

Tamira Thayne is the author of It Went to the Dogs: How Michael Vick’s Dogfighting Compound Became a Haven for Rescue Pups. She’s also written other books for adults and children, including these for adults: Capitol in Chains, Foster Doggie Insanity, The Wrath of Dog, The King’s Tether, The Knights Chain, and The Curse of Cur. For kids of all ages she’s published No Guppy Puppy, Raffy Calfy’s Rescue, Spittin’ Kitten’s Speed-Away, Squirmy Hermie’s Heroics, Smidgey Pidgey’s Predicament, Happy Dog Coloring Book. She is the editor of More Rescue Smiles, and co-editor of Unchain My Heart and Rescue Smiles.

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