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Rated: E · Fiction · Family · #2311306
An elderly fox must decide whether or not to put his wife in a home
         The old fox rubbed the coffee cup in his hands, his clawed finger tips made a near inaudible soft hissing, swishing sound. His tail tip twitched like an angry cat. His muzzle was more grey than white; stained a bit from the coffee he was taking small sips of. His daughter paced in front of him. She swatted at a fat fly as it buzzed near her face, zipped around the kitchen, then landed back on the pile of dirty dishes towering in, on top of, and next to the sink. Sandra grabbed the phone tight in fear and nerves as she spoke into it. "Oh, thank God, and thank you baby. Thank you! See you both soon."
         She stabbed the hang up button on the screen and looked at her dad. "They found her a couple miles from here. She had almost wandered to the highway." Sandra slid the phone into her pocket, her ears folded back in concern and pain. "We have to talk about it, dad."
         The old fox shook his head. "No," he grumbled. "It was my fault. Yer mom meant to go to the store, and I didn't get up quick enough to take her is all."
         "In her night gown?"
         The old fox took another sip and stared down at the cup, avoiding his daughter's accusing glare. "She gets forgetful, I admit. Sometimes she has to be reminded of things from time to time."
         "Yes, like bathing. You remember last week? She reeked! It took me an hour to get to strip and so I could shower her. She wouldn't do it herself. She'd just walk into the bathroom, then come right back out again."
         He shook his head, his ears flat and burning in shame. "This is not up for debate," he snarled. "Your mother is not going into some damn nursing home alone to die."
         "But dad, please," Sandra pleaded, her own ears twisting up as her eyes glistened with fresh tears. Her muzzle pulled down in shame and pain.
         The old fox stood and walked over to the window. He looked at the large oak tree, watched the sunlight filter through the fat leaves. An ancient rope swing danced a little in the wind then slowed, as if a ghost kit or pup of some kind was playing a game. "You remember that?" He asked, pointing at the swing. "I remember when I put that up."
         "Yeah," Sandra said. "I fell and broke my arm the next day."
         "And your mom brought you to the hospital," her father said. His tail swaying a bit. "She about brained me for that thing. But she let you get right back on it with your arm in a cast. You remember what she told you?"
Sandra nodded, her black triangle ears tilting up slightly as a grin of a memory pulled on her muzzle. "She said, 'you don't conquer a thing by avoiding it. You don't conquer a fear by running from it.'"
         "That's right," he said. "I remember David proposing to you right back there by that tree. Your mother cried so much when that happened."
         "Ha! We could hear her. 'My little kit's all grown up!'" A grin spread across Sandra's muzzle at the memory, one that touched her ears and eyes.
         "She waved goodbye to you from the step out front as you went to college. You remember that? You were determined to do it alone. She cried a bit after you left."
         "She told me later," Sandra said.
         "Every inch of this house has a memory. Every inch of it has her memory. It may not all be up there anymore, but it's all in here. I cannot let her get away from it. I cannot do that to her! Not my Claira!" He slammed the coffee cup down on the counter. The hot brown liquid splashed out over his arms and his house coat. "Not now, not ever!"
         The door opened, and an elderly female fox walked in, with more grey on her muzzle than black. Claira was wearing a dingy night gown stained with mud. "Oh, there you are, be a dear and put these away will you sir," she said. "I'll make us some scrambled eggs later when my husband gets in." She reached into her house coat and pressed into his palm five rocks. They smelled of mud and feces. "I think I need," she muttered, then began to turn to walk towards the front door again.
         David walked in behind Claira. His own ears were folded on his head in concern and worry. "I found her wandering around under a bridge by the highway," he said. He brushed at the knees on his pants. "She said she found wild eggs."
Sandra looked at her father, who glared down at his coffee. "Come on mom," he said, grabbing the elderly fox by the shoulder. "Let's go in the other room."
         "But I need," she said again, and began to walk out the door. "We're low on eggs and we're low on..." she started again.
         "Mom," Sandra said, grabbing the elderly female fox's shoulder. "Why don't we watch 'Gone With The Wind' mom?"
         "Okay," she said and followed her daughter. When Claira turned towards her husband, he could see the flame of life was there. The flame was burning bright behind her eyes. But there was no longer anyone there to tend to the flame. Tears welled up in the corners of his eyes.
         A memory touched the old fox then. He watched from the window as his Claira put Sandra back on the swing. He had put the swing up for her eighth birthday, and to celebrate it, she swung too far and slipped out, landing on her arm. On that day, she clung to the robe with her good arm, her cast held close to her body. Fear plastered her ears to her head, her muzzle turned down against it. "You don't have to go high dear," Claira said then, "but you still have to go. You can't avoid life. You don't conquer a thing by avoiding it. You don't conquer fear by running from it.'"
         A tear ran down his muzzle as he looked into the back yard at the swing dancing in the wind. "You don't conquer fear by running from it," he whispered. Then he turned and looked at Sandra. "I won't let her go alone," he said. Sandra stopped and turned as her husband, David took over, leading Claira to the living room.
         "Dad," she began, walking over towards him. "Please."
         "I won't," he said again. A tear chased the first down his muzzle and fell to the floor. "That's why I'm going with her."
         He looked at Sandra, tears in her own eyes now. "Dad?"
         He hugged her tight then. Held her close long and hard. "Keep your mother busy please," he whispered. "I'll go and get us packed."

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