I am born with nine others and I lay safe among them in a tight ball of light breathing. I know there is a nipple for me but I am small, it seems, and must push hard for my mother's milk.
We are like one at first, a moving body with forty legs. Snuggly linked shoulder to jowl; each an extension of each other. Knitted together by our scent, warmth, under belly of straw and a heart beat. All is secure and dark. Our moths attach and suckle in unison. We sleep and then cry for more. There is always more.
My eyes open in the dark at first. I only see shadows of my mother coming and going. We know each other by scent, too close to see. We feel and smell each other instead. Still pressed together like a mass we find our mother's milk. I have to press hard to find my meal; I know I am the smallest now.
I have a strange sensation of a naked fleshy being wrapping itself around my belly and lifting me into empty space. The air around me is cold and I have a weightlessness to me.
It is a strange feeling as this naked grasp places me close to another heart beat. The odors are sharp and unfamiliar. I explore with my nose. I'm afraid. I want my mother and family. I cry and wet myself from fear. I am stroked and a low tome speaks to me. I am comforted. Then sleep. This exercise is repeated over and over and each time I am afraid and cry, but I begin to trust this fleshy being means no harm.
I can see there are light and dark things around me. My legs can carry my weight, but I fall. Many times. I learn that my comfort still comes from sleeping in a mass of heaving bellies. My legs can carry me away from the mass. We each want to explore, but Mother will not let us go too far from her warmth.
And so it goes. Our bodies squirm to break away and squirm to stay attached. My legs are stronger and the urge to play with my brothers and sisters in intoxicating. We bite and push, roll and lunge. We begin to know that we are separate from each other and yet need each other. Our bodies are fluffed with soft fur. We each can see the other now and can put an image with the scent. There is an opening fin our den of warmth in which our mother comes and goes. It is bright with light and looks inviting enough to explore.
In my slumber, I am picked up by great force and put into the light. My legs shake to keep me standing. There are loud noises and great smells. I do not know what to do, so I wet myself from fear and cold. I cry. I hear sounds like my mother barking. It isn't my mother. The pads of my paws feel cold and I do not know where I am walking. I cry come more so my mother will save me. In my terror, I hear other cries and see my brothers and sisters one by one appearing around me.
We are all crying now and all are panic-stricken. Racing to each other, we reassure ourselves we are safe. Our mother is close by and has a worried look on her face as she looks up to very large beings with fleshy claws. Each of us is lifted in to the air. High and low pitched noises are directed at us and we are stroked and held. This is a familiar routine but with different noise and pitches and each being has a enquire odor. I am held tightly and then released. In our panic, we decide to play. The beings play with us and our terror turns to joy. Romping around on moist ground we tug and fall. I like and bite fleshy claws and they come back for more. Out mother's still keeps a watching eye on the beings and us. This play has exhausted all of us and we follow Mother to the warm den. In out exhaustion, we fall in a heap on top of one another. Mother is close and here nipples smell of milk.
After feeding and sleeping, mother tells us a strange story. "you are wise to listen, little ones, for out time is short to be together," she says. We are quiet so we can understand.
"The beings that have come to see us are called "humans" and are mighty in stature. But their size is misleading. They are vulnerable and need protection usually from their own kind. As I have said before, we are a noble breed of animal. We are brave protectors of humans and their property." Our mother licks us each lovingly. We are mesmerized by her message as she continues.
"You will soon be old enough to leave our little den and go out into the world. It will now be your job to pick the best human for your needs. They live in the illusion that they take care of us. But that is not true. It is us who take care of them." Our mother looks at each of us. I feel these words are hard for here to say as there is a sadness in her eyes.
It's hard to believe that these beings with the fleshy claws will be my responsibility. I am so small and they so big. I don't want to leave my brothers and sisters. I will miss my mother. We are trembling; fearful of the future. Our mother presses close around us, nudging for us to listen.
"Your brothers and sister from the past have made me proud and I am confident you will choose wisely also. Remember to win the heart of the best human candidate and they will not fail you. Choose wrongly and your life will be short and harsh. The truth is in their eyes." And with these words she slept. She was very tired and her nipples were dry.
The next day we all play as usual, but we are nervous when the humans arrive. They bard in loud noises and call for us to come to them. Some of us rush to greet them, some of us stay in the den, I watch the commotion and stay by myself. I am not sure how to proceed with the task of picking a human. I am roughly picked and I resist, biting and squirming. I am put down. My brother is showing off and I watch him charm the human I reject. He is scooped up and seems happy. Tail wagging. Licking. He is gone before we can say goodbye. I hope he has chosen well.
Each day passes and another one from our den is gone. Our little brood is shrinking. I think that maybe I can stay with my mother if I am left, but my mother licks me and says this can not happen. I must trust myself and the choosing game or the choice will be made for me. I hide in the corner and think about this for a long time. My mother knows I am worried and she reassures me the right human will come along in time.
The humans arrive in packs sometimes. Sometime they come alone. It is the one that arrive alone that I am drawn to. I know she is female and has a soft noise about her. I am shy, but I want to smell her and nibble at her hand. She lets me lick and bite her. She pets and stokes me. She has a gentle touch. She lifts me up so lightly that I am at the crook of her neck before I can react. I smell and taste her skin while she says soft noises in my ears. I am close to her face and I can see her eyes. They are soft like my mothers and I can't help from wagging my tail. She puts me down and I jump around and around. Pick me, Pick me up! I say and I put my paw on her leg. My brother and sister join in the fun. Push. Jump. Crowd around my human. She picks them up and I pull on her shoe.
Growling. Yipping. Nuzzle, Lick. I am beside myself. I want her away from the others. The human disappears. I know I have failed. I bite my brother and m sister. They scared my human away.
"I want this human." I tell the others. "She is mine!"
"You are too small." , my bother says. Pins me down. Shows his size. Bigger. I twist and leap to my paws throwing my weight. Biting his muzzle, I hear him yelp. I growl and snort and show my teeth.
"We'll see." I say as I den to the den before he can catch me. I nestle into the musty hay that makes up and bed and think that makes up my bed and think about all that has happened. My eyes are heavy and I slip into a dream.
[I am running to my human. She is happy to see me and I am happy to see her. My tail is wagging and I jump in spasms of joy.]
I wake up from my dream with a start and realize I am alone. I stretch and yawn and investigate where the others are. My nose can not find them. Vanished. Mother is near and I go to her. She licks me and says, "You are the last, little one. The others have been taken in the night as we slept."
Numbly stumbling, I leave the den. Outside I feel the crisp air against my fur. The air clear and sweet. Breathing like it was the first time. I stand on ground that is damp and all the smells that I have grown to know as home fill my head. The world seems so big and I so small in it. Even grass is taller than me. I bounce to the corner of the yard. Bite a flower. Attack a tumbling leaf. Strange to have the yard as a solitary place. I lay in the prickly grass. Pokes my tender underbelly. Rises above me like trees. I close my eyes in the fan of morning sun. Warmth penetrates. Calming. Like the heaving bellies I miss.
The scent of her fills me. My memory of her come back I know this human odor. It is my dream again. I startle at the touch. Whispering noises wake me. It is she who I dream of. Here! My body lifted up in soft cups. I nuzzle her neck. Glad to see me. Glad to see her. Resting my head to her heart. I am living my dream; my human pet has come for me. We have chosen well. My work has just begun.