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Story listed as: True Life For Teens | Theme: Survival / Success | Subject: Memorial / Tribute | Published here : 01/31/2018
My Girl 
By Mackenzie Steele
Born 1998, F, from Utah, United States
My Girl
My Girl

The first time I met My Girl, she wasn’t My Girl – not yet, really. I was sitting behind the tall-bar-closed-door that kept me in the small space and she was on the other side. I don’t think that she noticed me at first, but she did. She stopped on the other side of the tall-bar-closed-door and looked at me. Back then, she didn’t look any different from the other Men In Charge that wore the same colors and walked the same way – just a Man with a different scent.

The next time I saw her, she was in the thick-protect-cloth that I was supposed to chase down and hold. Not kill, but hold. She was afraid, I could tell, when the Man In Charge of me said his words and held my leash so I wouldn’t chase her yet. When she turned and ran, I chased her down. She made a frightened-prey-noise when I knocked her to the ground and clamped my teeth on the thick-protect-cloth. When the Man In Charge called me back, she was still afraid.

Later, she came to the small space that was mine and sat across from me. Even though we were still separated by the tall-bar-closed-door I could still smell that she was afraid. She startled when I barked and fled like prey. Our next encounters happened much the same – she was scared and she was prey. I gained a new Man In Charge, and she was still prey.

She still came to my space at night, though. Sometimes she would make noise and say words, other times she would be silent. Sometimes I would bark and scare her, other times I would listen. I think that’s when I started thinking of her as My Girl. She was different now from the Men In Charge… smaller, more delicate, but just as strong. Eventually, there came a day where I did not bark or snarl at her for getting too close to the tall-bar-closed-door that separated us, or for looking at me for too long. She began to come to me more, I noticed, especially after the sun had gone down and all of the other Men In Charge had left.

I still remember the first time that she brought me my food. She sat on the other side of the tall-bar-closed-door with my bowl. I could smell it and I wanted it. She told me to go to my bed like the other Men In Charge did when they brought my food, but I didn’t move. I was testing her, and she was testing me. My mouth began to water at the scent of the food, and I wanted it. I wasn’t used to waiting, but she just sat there, expecting me to move before she did with a fire in her eyes. She was no longer prey, so I moved. She was In Charge now. She darted inside my space and left the food inside, beating a hasty retreat back behind the bars. I knew that, for once, she had won and I knew that she knew it too.

It was only after my newer Man In Charge had left that she was given my leash and told to lead me. My Girl still looked scared, but she did it anyway. She was to be my new Man In Charge, and lead me to find the strange smells hidden in strange places.

We worked together every day from the time the sun came up until the sun went down. She took me running with her in the morning, across the cold grass and up to the hill. We are a team, My Girl always said, I think more to herself than to me. We worked well together – she would make the noises to other Men, and I would find the hidden scents. She would always praise me whenever I found one. Good Boy, Good Boy. More and more I found myself wanting to be her Good Boy, just like she was My Girl. Sometimes the other Men In Charge would make the laugh-noises at her and her hands would tighten around the leash. Never before have I ever wanted to bite anyone as much as I did then, but I didn’t because she led me away. In a way, I loved her for that.

The day before we were supposed to leave, My Girl took me to her space. She was scared, I could tell, but not nearly as much as she was when I first saw her. She needed me, I knew, to make her less scared in the new places with strange smells. I slept beside her that night, not even caring when her fingers pulled on my fur when she dreamed or when she wriggled out of the soft coverings.

The next day, I was the one who needed her comfort as I was put in a small space that was not my space and separated from My Girl by a small-bar-closed-door. There were new smells and new sounds and many Men and I was scared. I whined and yipped like a puppy. One of the Men told My Girl to make me be quiet. They made laugh-noises again as she placed a cover over the two of us and opened the small-bar-door to place her small hands on my face. I was no longer scared as I felt movement beneath my paws because I knew that she would keep me safe – just as safe as I kept her the night before, because she was mine and I was hers.

We went to the new-hot-place and she brought me to her space. Before we had come to the new-hot-place, we had trained to sniff out the strange smells that meant danger and warn others, but until the day we came I had never actually known what it meant. The air was filled with dust as My Girl led me to find the danger-scents. When I found one I was to sit beside it, safely away until she could place a stick near the spot. I wasn’t to play with those sticks, or else I wouldn’t be a Good Boy. Once the stick was left, a Man walked to it. Later, I watched as one exploded with a great burst of sand, noise, and force and I understood what we were looking for. I was finding these strange scents to keep My Girl and the Men safe. If we couldn’t find them, My Girl could get hurt and I loved her too much to let that happen.

We stayed in the not-so-new-hot-place for a long time, finding the danger-scents and keeping the other Men safe. I learned that there were Our Men and there were Other Men. Our Men were the ones who found the danger-scents with us and took them away so that they could no longer hurt My Girl; the Other Men were the ones who placed the danger-scents and wanted to hurt My Girl. I wouldn’t let them hurt her – I would bite them if they tried, and I did that several times when they got too close. There was another Man too – the one that stayed close to My Girl and made laugh-noises with her. He was Her Boy, and sometimes I wanted to bite him too when he got too close to her, but that would have made My Girl sad. Sometimes I thought that she would make him her new Good Boy and it would no longer be me, but that was a silly thought. I would always be her Good Boy, and she would always be My Girl. She was mine and I was hers.

The longer we stayed in the old-hot-place, the quieter My Girl became. At night, when the loud sounds woke her up, she hugged me with fright and wouldn’t go back to sleep until they stopped. She startled at loud noises, like she did when she first came to me. But she still twisted her fingers in my fur and wriggled out of the not-as-soft coverings so I knew that she was all right and that I was still her Good Boy. Sometimes Her Boy would talk softly to her and make her happy in a way that I couldn’t, so I grew to like him for that.

He was with us the day we rode in the big-wheels-moving-machine to go find more danger-scents put there by the Other Men. We got out of the big-wheels-stopped-machine and got to work. By the time the sun was high in the sky, I was panting with exertion and proud of the many sticks she had placed. Her Boy called us back to the big-wheels-stopped-machine for a break, but we never made it there.

Loud noises rang out all around us and I knocked My Girl to the dusty ground as the air whistled around us. I knew that the Other Men who wanted to hurt My Girl were here and I also knew that they would have to go through me to do it. Her Boy called to us from the side of the big-wheels-stopped-machine, pulling out his loud-noise-stick. My Girl and I crawled as fast as we could behind a rock, avoiding the sticks My Girl had placed in the dirt around us. Dust flew in the air as the loud cracks of noise pierced my ears. I whined and pressed closer to My Girl, keeping her safe in the shelter of the rock. I could hear them, the Other Men, and they were too close to keep her safe. Her Boy was safe against the big-wheels-stopped-machine so that was where she needed to go. She took my leash in her hand and we ran for the machine hidden in the dust.

Then the world exploded.

My body hurt, my ears hurt, every breath hurt, and My Girl wasn’t holding the leash. I struggled to get up, to find her, but all I could do was crawl. I found her lying on her back, covered in dirt, with her eyes closed. I covered her with my body, licking her face to make her wake up, to do anything, to move and get to safety. She made a quiet noise and I knew that she was alive. I could smell blood and it made me scared. More scared than I had been when the ground moved beneath my paws, more scared than when the loud noises popped over our heads at night, more scared than I had ever been without her. She was My Girl and I was her Good Boy and I was supposed to keep her safe. I hadn’t smelled the danger-scent buried so far beneath the dirt and now My Girl was hurt.

The loud bangs made from the loud-noise-sticks stopped and Her Boy ran over to us. His face was pale when he saw her, mirroring the failure in my own. We both had the same mission, to keep her safe no matter what, and we had failed. I growled when he pushed past me to pick her up – no one was going to hurt My Girl ever again – but I couldn’t do anything as he lifted her in his arms and carried her to the big-wheels-stopped-machine. I growled and snarled when he came back to get me, squirming in his arms as much as my pain would allow. I instantly stopped the moment he placed me next to her in the machine, sitting beside her as we began to move.

I pushed my nose under her hand, silently begging her to make noise, to open her eyes, to do anything and call me her Good Boy again even after I’d failed her. Her Boy held her head in his lap, stroking her hair and holding her hand. In that moment I knew that he loved My Girl just as much as I did, and that made us brothers. We would keep her safe, and I would even be willing to let My Girl call him Good Boy every once and a while because I was still her Good Boy and she was My Girl. She was mine and I was hers and nothing could ever change that.

When we stopped, My Girl was taken from Her Boy. I growled as unfamiliar hands took her from the machine and placed her in another without me. Didn’t they know that it was our job to keep her safe and that she couldn’t be truly safe without us? Her Boy grabbed my leash and lifted me out of the machine and took me to his space. I had been there before with My Girl, but never without her. When the door was closed, he sat on the bed and cried.

I was surprised, the strangeness cutting through the shock of being without My Girl. I had never seen a Man cry. He sounded just as sad and terrified as My Girl did whenever she woke up to the loud noises outside at night. He wasn’t My Girl, but he was just as fragile as she was. I would need to make sure to keep him safe too. I jumped up on the bed and laid my head in his lap.

He stopped crying and looked at me much the same way My Girl did when I listened to her for the first time. I resisted the urge to shake him off as an unfamiliar hand rubbed at my ears and neck. He would never be My Boy, I thought and he ran his fingers over my fur, but he was Hers and that’s what mattered.

I stayed with Her Boy in his space for a long time. It was he who comforted me whenever I began to hopelessly search for her around the camp and it was me who slept beside him at night, both of us missing a part of us that was no longer there. It was also he who, when I was put in the small space that was not mine again and the ground began to move, placed a cover over our heads and opened the small-bar-closed-door. When we returned to the tall-bar-place, he stayed with me and called me “Good Boy” in the way that she did.

It was a long time before he held my leash and walked with me through the grass and up the hill. We would walk together often after that, through the buildings and the fields. I could never find My Girl, although sometimes I thought that I could smell her. Sometimes I heard her calling my name from the top of the hill, but she was never there when I reached the spot. Her Boy would dutifully chase after me when I ran, taking my leash again when I stopped. These were lonely times spent missing her, and trying my best to comfort Her Boy like I used to do for her.

We were walking through one of the buildings one day when I thought I smelled her again. Strangely, Her Boy didn’t try to grab back the leash like he usually did when I ran off inside the buildings. He had been happier of late, smiling more and rubbing my head affectionately like he never did before. I followed her scent through the halls, unknowingly causing chaos in my wake because I could hear her, smell her, and knew that she was there.

When the trail ended, like always, there was nothing there.

I whined miserably as I sat down in the small space that smelled too clean and of machines and of her. She couldn’t possibly be here in this place – My Girl loved the grass and the trees and the hill and the sky. It was then that I heard the other door open.

"Hey, there, Good Boy."

I couldn’t believe my ears, and I turned to correct that doubt. There, standing in the doorway, was My Girl. In that moment, there was not enough danger-scents, new-hot-places, or Other Men to keep me from her because I was her Good Boy and she was My Girl. She was mine and I was hers.
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