oneshot DEAR, MAMA. | oneshot

DogTeeth

⛤ RIVER SIREN
Jul 23, 2022
101
20
18
( INSPIRATION 1 ) | coat of many colors, by Dolly Parton
( INSPIRATION 2 ) | Fancy, by Reba McEntire

Fall is chilly here, but not so much as to keep mom out of the pond. “ Marylin, you’re gonna catch a damn cough ” Niel grumbles in return- seeing his mate wading through the dark green pond water decorated with fallen leaves, returning with some soft materiel, shreds of something for bedding. Billie, a small bundle of tan and blonde curls watches with big blue eyes. Him and his older sister Monica, who leans on his head with an elbow digging hard between the ears. " Moni- stop it!… MOM she won’t stop! " Billie whines and guffs out air as he’s shoved to the ground violently. “ I’m only playing! ” Monica scoffs, especially when the threat of tears spring into her little brother’s eyes.

Mom always had the softest paw at a mother’s touch though because she touched her nose to Billie’s and those tears went away quick. Her coat soaked and flattened, plastered to her ribs as she carries a small fish to the old leaning shack that housed thirteen cats. Eleven of them depending on one. Niel, an existence that offered little. Mama was a hard workin' woman with a heart of gold. She with nothing less than kind, and though she didn't have but fish and rags to offer- Billie cherished everything.

“ Moni you need to be gentle ” Marylin scolds but the larger sister rolls her blue eyes hard. “ I know I know- ”" I’ll get big one day! " Billie swore, and Monica snickered. “ and I’ll grow another tail ” she teases and Billie scowls angrily at her. It doesn’t last long though, because a yellow winged butterfly crosses his nose and he is hopping after it on unstable legs.

“ aha! ” Monica’s pale sandy fur whips over his head and her claws snatch the butterfly right from the air- a net of keratin enclosing it and tearing through the wings like butter. " NO! no- Mon let it go… no- you’re hurting it! " Billie squawks like a plucked bird and shoves at Monica’s shoulder but she’s muscled and easily stills against her little brother’s assault. “ what?! It’s the same as a fish! why are you so soft! I’ll be a hunter like dad one day- not a wet-fur like mom and you- you’re soft! ” Monica’s words are obscured by the agony he felt for the butterfly as it lay torn apart- and for what? Monica steps backward and Billie scoops the one-winged butterfly into his tiny paw and it nearly covers the brown of his paw pads. Tears sting his eyes again and his bottom lip protrudes with a sniffle.

“ DUCKS IN A TREE- you’re crying! ” she’s incredulous and mean, and Billie wipes the fur of his shoulder on his eyes. " no i’m not!" Billie shouts and his voice cracks from the strum of little vocal chords. " didn’t have to do that… you just… did " he mutters too low- not even Monica heard him but she’s too busy cackling and running back toward the shed.

She tells the story seven times to all nine of my other brothers and sisters. Allie, Amy, Ryan, Gauge, Yearie, Bri, Allison, Jame, and Coast. Only Yearie didn’t laugh, he was only two moons. Amy wasn’t as mean as Monica but she still chuckled- it hurt, wedged deep. Billie begged Mon not to tell Dad. Niel already thought him pathetic, ‘not a runt but might as well have been!’ Is what he always said.

Mom was always nice though, and Billie slept right beside her when he could. Not when Niel was home though- he’d have none of it and Billie would sleep next to Jame, she was five moons like him and alot nicer. Living in a small shed, meant no privacy- meant bumps and bruises and sleepless nights. Especially in winter.

Nothing prepared them for when mom got sick. Monica started hunting, and Billie refused to eat for two days. Moles, they tasted like wet dirt and it wasn’t caught with love- like mom always did. You could taste the fear in the animal- and Billie swore it made his tummy twist. Niel said it was time to find Mom some help, her illness got worse and she stopped eating. Billie missed her fish- and knew she liked fish too. So one day he waded out into the pond, doing his best to remember his swimming lessons with mom.

He was able to float but too many times he swallowed water and had to get out and cough. Minnows were too fast- the other fish were bigger than him! It was futile but everyday he tried. Niel had been gone for a week- you can tell by the shape of the moon mom said- he wasn’t coming back. That meant taking care of eleven kits. Well, nine- Monica and Amy were talking about leaving and finding another colony and maybe starting families. Monica, by moms request took Yearie to a twoleg home she was raised in. The same old pair of twolegs, mom said he was safe there. Billie was amazed by the sight of the furless creatures, like gods they swaddle and carry his baby brother away.

There’s talk about finding Billie twolegs, and he cries and begs for them to reconsider. Or at least to go to Yearie’s twolegs, mom said Twolegs don’t like having too many cats. It would do more harm than help.

By the end of fall, Monica left, and mom was sicker. Amy stayed, and took over the hunting. Training Coast and Gauge so they could take over- one by one, the siblings dispersed and passed on hunting duties. Then Billie woke up one day and it was just Allison and Jame, Allison was nine moons old so she took to the hunting, and Jame and Billie were finally seven- Jame was learning fast but Billie was too small and slow.

Still he tried to fish like mom did, and finally one day- his teeth wrapped around a sunfish! He swallowed more water but he was too excited to care about the burn of his lungs, and he ran back to the leaning old shack as fast as his little legs could carry him.

" MOM!- mom! I (cough) I got one! " he yowled, voice cracking with the turn of his age. “ Shhh… s’es dyin’ ” Jame’s missing teeth slurred his words but Billie didn’t need to be told twice. Mom was dying.

She took off her silver chain collar, with shaky weak paws and wrapped it around Billie’s neck and he bowed his chin as she kissed his head. She didn’t favorite her children, but perhaps he was the most like her. The collar was so big it hung in a big heavy loop around his shoulders.

Mom passed away peacefully in her sleep. Billie, Jame, and Allison tucked around her till her skin went cold. Billie cried so hard he couldn’t talk for days, and Allison had to keep Jame and him inside while she did the burying.

Amy came back to check on them- and Allison and her got into a bad fight, they parted ways. Jame went with Amy, and Billie stayed with Allison. He even convinced her to start swimming and they tried fishing sometimes together.

Allison wanted to go find Niel though, and that’s where Billie disagreed. Eventually he was all alone- but luckily old enough at ten moons to fish for himself. Thanks to his mom’s teaching.

It was strange, going from impossibly crowded to utterly alone, it made the ears ring. That little old shack was too big for just him. That’s when Billie finally left with a bittersweet goodbye, a kiss to his mom’s gravestone rocks. " Thank you mama, for everything. I'll make you proud- I promise. " he’d whispered.

BIOGRAPHY——— ✧