Category Archives: Animal Stories

Moments of Connecting

sam and me

When traveling with my dad through Europe, he used to point out all the historical buildings and sites. He was fascinated with the styles and epochs and would lecture mom and me for hours, pointing at the houses we passed, explaining the structure and peculiarities of each and how we could tell in which century or decade it was built. While buildings came alive for Dad, they were just dead, meaningless structures to me. I remember tuning him out and gazing at trees, bushes, birds, clouds, and butterflies instead.

When I began traveling by myself, I stayed the same. Predominantly focused on nature, on characters. I still am. Whenever there are encounters with human beings, flora, and fauna, I am fascinated. Even more so, I feel happy and glad to be alive. Years later, what I remember most, what sustains me, are these moments of connecting.

Like here, I can’t even remember where exactly this was. Just that it was somewhere in Illinois, in 2004. I was there for a friend’s wedding, but I can’t remember the names of the towns the Greyhound bus took us through. Even the actual wedding with its glitter and room full of strangers is but a faint, misty image in my mind. What I remember most from this trip is meeting this little guy. His name was Sam. He was the bride’s nephew and he was fascinated with horses. However, he hadn’t had much chance of getting close to them in the town where he lived. I ended up staying a couple of hours at this paddock with Sam, teaching him how to gently wait for the horses to come closer. How to not spook them with fast movements, and how to soothingly talk with them, letting them get used to his presence. Then we stole some apples and fed them to the delighted animals. Sam’s sparkling eyes made my weekend. I can still hear the pounding of hooves, feel the dust on my tongue as the small team of five horses thundered past us, and smell their strong scent as they slowly approached us in the end. Alert. Majestic. Powerful.

Mondays are Writing Days

liam at breakfast

Mondays are my writing days. I am slowly getting into it today, cuddling Nacho, while Pushka is contentedly snoring on the chair behind me. All the while, little Fellini is sitting on top of the fridge, fixing me with his most intense, unblinking stare, no doubt wondering when the silly bi-ped is going to stop fiddling with the rectangular, glowing box so he can have a second round of breakfast.
I am tackling the sixth chapter of Word of Mouse today. As I am developing the book, I am wondering where it’ll go. But then, the next instant, I go “Nah”, stop thinking, and just write. Most important for now is to go with the flow and get my 1st draft done. All fine-tuning will come during the dozens of drafts that are sure to follow.
I won’t rest until it’s an awesome, authentic, gripping read. That’s a promise.

Benji

Benji 3

Here, finally, an excerpt from the 1st draft of the book I am currently working on. This chapter tells about my first canine companion, a cute albeit rather enormous English Mastiff puppy I was given at the age of 7. Sadly, his stay with us was brief, but he will never be forgotten:

“Oh no, he’s done it again.”

My dad looked a curious mix between erupting volcano and deflated marathon runner, arriving last over the finish line.

I followed his gaze downward and saw a fresh layer of deep scratches marking the inside of our wooden front door. Following my dad’s gaze further, I saw books lying shredded in the hallway all the way to the artificial horizon created by the far wall. Puddles of pee glistened on the tile floor like miniature golden ponds. Scraps of torn book pages floated in them like water lilies. If not for the acrid, far too intense toilet smell, this could have been a rather romantic scenario.

Dad sighed a deep rumbling sigh. We had only been away for half an hour to buy groceries at the corner store. I did my best to look understanding and crestfallen even though I relished this rebellion and disaster more than I dared even admit to myself.

We slowly went further into the apartment, coming across what looked like the remains of what looked like one of Mom’s shirts and our TV remote control.

Finally, in the living room sat the culprit. Clearly aware that he had done something he shouldn’t, for otherwise he’d have greeted us at the door. Nevertheless, considering the circumstances, he looked far too delighted to see us back. Tail wagging; thump, thump, thump, into another puddle of pee right behind him. Little, golden drops flying in all directions.

(From ‘Word of Mouse’, Chapter 3, Benji)

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