High Waters (Choosing Sides) – Excerpt

High Waters

Jasmine is running for her life. She has had to face her mother’s brutal murder and her father’s possible involvement in her mother’s death. Now pursued by a mysterious organisation, Jasmine has to make the most difficult decision in her life.

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Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Smallie sniffed, and looked over his shoulder, then decided that his bladder had had just about enough. The murram road was known as North Creek Road, by the wealthier usually lighter skinned residents or Mtomondoni Road by the kawaidas who lived in the less affluent side of the village. Smallie was one of the beach boys who was born and raised on the Kawaida side and aspired to live on the better side. For that reason he spent a lot of time trying to bangaiza, to find a wealthy foreign tourist, who needed a companion for a few weeks, and if he was lucky someone to finance his needs for a long time.

The financing was just a little further from him today than they usually were. It had been a really bad night. After a very long night without any success at the beach club, and a few joints of a really crude batch of hash, he had given up and hauled himself off towards the village. So here he was walking a length of road that he would rather cruise in a car, preferably a big bold vehicle, like the one his cousin had landed, a Merc, no less.

There was no one else on the road as far as Smallie could see in the 5.30am light. So he slid between the two mwarubaine trees and allowed himself some relief. He was just starting to breathe that relief when his eyes caught on something, forcing his bladder to shut down automatically. He stood rooted to the spot for a few seconds before his brain finally told his legs to jump back.

With some feet between him and the object, he blinked, thinking that the hash might be having a really bad effect on him. The object took shape in his eyes, a bloodied arm, and when he looked more, a familiar face, with eyes that were obviously long dead.

Common sense told him not to touch the body, but it did not stop him from screaming like the cemetery ghosts were after him.

It was not long before the village of Mtomondoni was awake and streaming to see the body. News tricked to North Creek Road, too. Eventually the Police showed up. By the time the news reached the big house at the end of North Creek road, the sun was high, the humid heat rising, and the senior police officers were milling around talking to the squawking radios handed down from a 1988 Soviet Corps Unit, while the Junior officers milled around toiling and soiling the evidence.

*****

Jasmine was the kind of girl you knew as soon as you saw her that she did not belong in the Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums. Her skin was a very light brown, smooth like a healthy young baby’s. Her eye brows were neatly trimmed but there was no eye makeup. She did wear a light pink lip gloss that made a pretty contrast against her skin. She wore clothes that Maria thought looked expensive. Jasmine was just nineteen years old but she came to the slums working amongst the poor, and the sick, and the troubled almost as if she thought if she worked hard enough she could make up for being born rich.

Maria frowned when she caught the taxi driver looking at them through the rear view mirror. She stared at the rear view mirror even after the taxi driver turned and focused on the road. His upper lip was shining; a bead of sweat dancing on the tip of his nose, and his eyes darted around as if he was nervous.   Maria’s face lined with worry. She was a small woman, unlike Jasmine who was tall, and slender in the way of an active sportsperson. She was thin, from a tight budget and months of fear. She wore a simple dress that had come with the aid shipment from the American friends of the Mtoto Sema Children’s centre. It was worn out now; it hadn’t been new when she got it. Her shoes were 99 shilling Bata sandals which had spent quite a while on her feet; the part which anchored between her toes was waiting for some kind of impact so that it would fall apart.

“Maria, can I hold the baby?” Jasmine asked holding out her hands, the right one had a slender silver watch fastened at the wrist, and the left had a plain silver ring on the thumb. Her fingers were long and slender, the nails long and painted in a light silver blue colour. Maria did not think Jasmine had ever done her own laundry.  Maria held on to her baby tighter. The baby was all she had. Though she had tried to take her mind off the thought, it kept coming back to her that the difference between them was that Jasmine had money, and Maria did not. They were the same age, and Maria seriously doubted that Jasmine was more intelligence than she was.

Wacha tu, I need to hold him.” The baby in Maria’s arms whimpered. Jasmine leaned back to peek at the baby over his mother’s shoulder. He started to frown, she cooed at him.  “Wewe baby, sema toto, sema.” She made faces at him. The baby boy paused in his whimpering to stare at her silly facial movements. His tiny pink-brown lips spread in toothless grin that made her chuckle softly.

Jasmine looked past the baby to the mirror and saw that the driver was still casting jerky looks at them every few seconds. She half expected him to turn the saloon car around and take them back.  He probably lived in Mukuru too. It is not easy to hide anything in the slum town with its crammed wooden, mud and sometimes cardboard walled houses; all lined up in haphazard ways that still create narrow streets that criss-cross the valley. The walls are so thin; the joke that if the next door mama is peeling onions, your eyes tear up, true. Conversations are not private, when the young mother next door receives a menacing visit from the slum lord’s men, you could tell your neighbour who sells mboga at the soko all about it and her son who hangs out at the video or pool game hall up near Sami’s shop could overhear you and tell his ‘maboys’ who would confirm the story they heard at Kama’s Wines & Spirits.

The taxi driver had assessed Jasmine, Maria and the baby and immediately changed the previous deal, doubled his price and threatened to drive away. Jasmine relented; 1600 shillings to the city centre, a ride that would have cost 300 shilling if Maria had been on her own.

Maria was not carrying anything except her baby and a baby bag. She looked as if she was heading for the clinic on the other side of Mukuru Kwa Njenga. It was a small government clinic which like all the others provided ante-natal and post-natal care. Everyone knew the choices, to get there very early or  stand in line with a screaming baby all day.   As a matter of fact, Maria’s baby was due for immunisation today.

Once they picked her up though, the Toyota Corolla, which was new and comfortable inside, headed not inwards into the slums towards the clinic, but outwards towards the Nairobi-Mombasa highway. The driver glanced at Jasmine through the rear view mirror several more times as he drove on the dust road out of the slum district, leaving behind the houses, poorly built with poor materials, and the people who lived there, some of them out on the streets now, faces resolute, bodies denying the resolution in their hearts to survive. Maria bobbed her head down, though she could hardly be seen from inside the car, when she saw Mwende her neighbour. Mwende was a barmaid at a Bar Restaurant built in a place called Cambodia.

Cambodia was so called because one of the original residents of the slum valley loved to read war novels from 70’s and 80’s American writers. The Vietnam and Cambodian wars featured a lot in the novels, so when the valley turned bloody with gang wars, he had been the first to call it Cambodia. The name stuck.    Mwende had told Maria of the horror of working as barmaid in Cambodia. The slum lord’s were everywhere, extorting, taxing, and charging even for the filthy air that the slum dwellers breathed.   Maria closed her eyes, her breath coming out shakily. Jasmine touched the baby’s tiny foot encased in a rather old but clean sock as they went past Imara Daima Estate’s gated entrance, and the factories where some slum locals could work for 65 shillings a day, and then onto the Mombasa- Nairobi highway, heading into the city.

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Zohra – Back on the Wagon

There was a time when I lived to write. Now I write for a living. It should have been a good thing, except for a long time, I’ve allowed myself to lose the joy I once had in writing.

True, I still have to spend quite a bit of time writing for payment, but I have made a promise to myself that I will also go back to writing just for the sake of it.

As many of you already know (due to my constant harping about it, of course), I started reading at age 2, and 10 years later decided to write my own reading material. Hey, if you want something done just right, you gotta go and do it yourself, no?

For some time I wrote almost compulsively. I was also a perfectionist, so many are the stories I simply crumpled and burned because they just did not seem right. It took a while before I was ever able to share my work with anyone.

And then the internet happened. About 2005, I finally started to show off my work on online forums, I started with writing.com, moved to thesop.org, author.com, and several others, came home to kenyaimagine.com, and finally set up my own home here at jmaruru.wordpress.com.

Here, I have shared my rambling on life, relationships, Kenya… even dared let you read part of my works in progress. But that frenzied scribbling I use to love has left me. I must now woo her back, tempt her with everything I’ve got, seduce her, convince her to move in with me again.

Zohra started out as a writing game with friends, then morphed into a manuscript project. Completion date, near future :) Here are the prompts we started out with. Click on the sentence to read the instalment of the story. When you get to the end, you can yell, send in a continuation suggestion or simply wait for the project to be done:

1. The steady tap-tap of a leaking faucet intruded into her thoughts every other minute.

2. The sound of the men’s footsteps, and their voices in Swahili only vaguely interspersed with Arabic, faded into the morning chirp of countryside birds.

3. A bokeh; an out of focus snapshot.

4. Her mind rushed forward and backwards, trying to place even a little bit of sense into what he was telling her, but she only found herself with no words, righteous or unrighteous.

5. It took her a few minutes to gather her wits together and enough courage to venture out of the room she had been pushed into last night.

6. Zohra nodded to her ‘step-mother’, and headed off in search of chai na mahamri which she was expected to earn afterwards.

7. The terrain around the compound was a gentle ascension from sea level.

8. “Rashid, is my father alive?”

Antithesis – Calling Me By My Name

It started with a low light,
Next thing I knew they ripped me from my bed
And then they took my blood type
It left a strange impression in my head.

It's all in my mind
It’s all in my mind

I sit here in the dark silence listening to the chirp of a cricket that slipped through a crack somewhere and got stuck in my azure room with blue flowered curtains. In the light of day, the colours and the flowers make me want to scream. Usually I don’t scream because that would scare everyone.

Knowing what is appropriate is a feat that I sometimes fail to accomplish. But I do know that to scream for no reason would be inappropriate  I do have a reason, though.

You know that I was hoping,
That I could leave this star-crossed world behind
But when they cut me open,
I guess I changed my mind.

To silence the voices in my head. That’s would be why. There was four of them to begin with. Well, one of the voices was mine so I should probably only count three. But four is the right count.

I sit on the tiled floor in the dark. The cricket sounds like it is on the other side of the room. I don’t know. The tiled floor is cold. And the voices whispering interrupts the chirp of the cricket. Earlier, the sunset spilled into the room through the little gaps where the curtains split. They spilled dusty rays, pretty rays and I could ignore the flowered curtains for a moment.

And you know I might
Have just flown too far from the floor this time
Cause they’re calling me by my name
And the zipping white light beams
Disregards the bombs and satellites

The voices, they speak in whispers. The one stutters, always doubting itself, asking questions.

Is it right? No, it can’t be. I was sure it was right? Is it wrong? Oh dear, what shall I do? What shall I say?

And the other, a vicious selfish little demon, bursting to tears when the others don’t listen. Tears, I cannot see the tears. I can only imagine the tears as the demon talks as if it is choking while it says vicious hateful things.

You blustering bastard! Why do you let me make all the difficult decisions? We must, we must and we must… Oh, God, I can’t handle this.

And the former, God? Do you even believe in God?

I am God!

And the former, No, you aren’t. I can’t deal with this. I must go.

You coward. You stupid thoughtless, senseless coward.

And she steps in, I think she is a she. Her voice is soft, but she can get as vicious as the one who thinks she is God. Only she has no tears. Just icy vicious hatred.

Hmmm… Is all she says now. To share the stage with a vicious little demon who thinks it is God would be a faulty plan. No, she will wait until the tears recede and then she will launch her attack. And then she will shine. For whom, I wonder. Only I know that she lives in my head. But she hopes, does she not?

You are all lazy, idiotic cowards. Every single one of you. Look at you, sitting in the dark when there is glorious light to bask under. Get up, get out, do something!

They don’t listen, not even the quiet one who hardly talks. When I think of her, the quiet one, I imagine that she wears mufflers and eye pads and pretend that if she cannot see them they will soon forget that she exists.

That was the turning point
That was one lonely night

The star maker says, “It ain’t so bad”
The dream maker’s gonna make you mad
The spaceman says, “Everybody look down
It’s all in your mind”

She does, doesn’t she? I listen to her, waiting for her to say a word. But she doesn’t. It is like she is lost in her dark world, wallowing in a pain that only she can know. I know she is there. I wonder if some day she will be unable to bear the azure, the curtains, the cricket and the voices. And then what?

Well now I’m back at home, and
I’m looking forward to this life I live
You know its gonna haunt me
So hesitation to this life I give.
You think you might cross over,
You’re caught between the devil and the deep blue sea
You better look it over,
Before you make that leap

On a rare day, they will hum, as if in harmony. One song, one I can bear. One I can enjoy. And then they will be quiet. The stutterer, the demon, the diva and the quiet one. On a day like this, when I can enjoy the setting sun splaying gold over the deep blue sea. On a day like this when I can feel the white sand between my toes. On a day like this, they remain quiet, and let me be in the deep dark night.

And you know I’m fine,
But I hear those voices at night sometimes-
They justify my claim,
And the public don’t dwell my transmission
Cause it wasn’t televised

The thesis was that they once were best friends. I think they never were. To be a friend you must care for the other with everything that you have. But the voices, all of them were self-serving, sharing a space because… where could they go except remain in my head? And the mythology of why they came to be, it can never be told by who they came to be. It’s just a thesis. My antithesis.

My global position systems are vocally addressed
They say the Nile used to run from East to West,
They say the Nile used to run…
From East to West.

And you know I’m fine
But I hear those voices at night
Sometimes…

It’s all in my mind.

Lyrics by The Killers.

The Tender Caress of His Fist – Niggling Thoughts on a Reader’s Relationship with a Story

Jesus Wept.

A Short Story only requires two words. A subject/object and a verb. A short story draws on the author’s ability to elicit emotion and conjure up imagery. It also very strongly relies on the reader’s ability to fill in the gaps, drawing from recognition of history and culture reference.

A reader who has not learnt Christian tradition, not read the Gospels would not be moved by the words “Jesus Wept”. However, one who has, will draw upon the development of Jesus as a powerful prophet, the Messiah, a god – able to control nature and just days before the incident inferred able to raise a girl from the dead. And yet, here he is, faced with the death of his best friend, and his best friend’s weeping sisters – Jesus wept!

—–

“I loved him with everything I had. He loved me back with the tender caress of his fist against my ribcage.” 

fist90% of my test readers attached violence to the fist in my creation above. This quotient felt that the ‘tender caress’ was a reference to ‘a punch’. Only 10% suggested that perhaps ‘he’ had callused hands and so chose to literally caress ‘her’ ribcage tenderly with his fist or rather ‘a closed hand’.

90% of my test readers assumed the ‘I’ was female. Only 10% hesitated and wondered if it could be a male.

Based on the comments & observations above, select a short story you wrote before, select a sentence in it, and imagine how, in the context of both your story and culture, a reader would interpret it.

Have fun imagining! Then think about it next time you spin that story.

I am NOT a non-conformist

Well, truth be told, though it is not much of a secret, there is something delicious about knowing that you are special, unique, different. And YET, the truth is that we are all quite the same in our own special, unique, different ways. An inescapable fact.

Anyway, so for the 100th time today, I had to tell someone that I am not learning spanish because I am enamored of the spanish soap operas raging on Kenyan TV now. Truth be said, what’s this obsession with truth? – I hate soap operas, and I hate the spanish soap operas/telenovellas even more.

Why? Well, I am an unromantic, pessimistic and very lazy bitch. I don’t believe in happily ever afters. I don’t think there is just one precious ONE for me out there. And the idea that love is so much hard work, mostly tears, and moving to new cities to get rich so you can come back and show down your true love’s relatives so you can win him back… too much work.

But if you know me, then you also know that I am the kind of girl who’s been in love with the same guy half my life, and honestly the only reason I haven’t married him is because… well, beyond me right now. The excuse I am using now is that my back hurts too much for me to walk down the aisle. And I am way too proud to go to my wedding in a wheel chair. Right, let’s see how long he’ll believe that one.

So what do I like? TV shows with non-conformist, beyond eccentric, definitely insane, almost-villain, lead characters. Dr. House. Patrick Jane. Dr. Hunt. Jacob Wood. Sam Cooper. Commander McGarrett. The list will go on…

Why? I have no idea. Maybe its because as tough as these characters are potrayed to be, they are also created with vulnerabilities. Which is me turned inside out, no? I wish :)

This need to be not-uniform, saw me wearing boy clothes when girls my age were playing dress up to look just like the Princess on that animated movie all the way from Disneyland. No, I never thought I was a boy. I actually like being a girl. But I wanted to tough, genius smart, super fit… and I worked for it. Somehow, I thought that to be those things, I’d have to be boyish. But that’s just because the world I lived in then potrayed boys and men as the only ones who could normally be tough and smart.

And then there’s the little thing about ‘girl clothes’ being horribly unsuited to certain activities that I love.

Now I live in a world where girls are scorned for being romantic, and so they shun the things they would have loved, watching dream romances, rags to riches stories in beautiful exotic lands. Smart tough girls watch soccer with the boys, go for top jobs, claim that they are tomboys and love books…

Now the world turned inside out.

You think I am rambling? Maybe.

My point is: I like Cop shows, hate soccer, love rugby, hate soap operas, love romantic comedies, wear worn out jeans and get scared at power suits, want to get married someday, want a small wedding (very), hate romance novels, love swamp murder mysteries, love ice cream, love yoga, hate aerobics…

It’s just who I am, I am not trying to fit into a certain bill, or not fit into one… I just am. And if you are absolutely opposite of me, there is nothing wrong with you. In fact. I think perhaps we could be really great friends.

This Reading Kenyan

It keeps getting said: “Kenyans don’t read.” Which Kenyans? I am Kenyan. I read. I love to read. I know a bunch of people who read almost as much as I do. I can only name just a few. Magunga Williams. Rose Odengo. Aamera JiwajiKibali Moreithi. Zosi. Kinyanjui Kombani. Oluoch Madiang’. Clifford Oluoch. Aleya Kassam. Owaahh. I just counted 10. Bet you can count your own 10 as well.

I read like a maniac. I read compulsively. Where people binge eat, or watch tv show marathons, I read.

I read sci-fi, medical thrillers, crime thrillers, modern classics, classics… my friends are Kay Scarpetta, Jane Rizolli, Commander Vimes, Anne of Avonlea, Pip (Philip Pirrip), Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Rincewind, Javier Falcon…

I read serious books too. I read books on publishing practice, creative writing, animal husbandry (hihiii – I’m sorry I’m one of those) business & enterpreneurship, diet and nutrition, yoga and exercise(key word: read)…

But would I read if the choice was between a book and a solid one-a-day meal? Would I read if the choice was between a book and my daughter’s (I’ll get a daughter, you wait and see) clinic fees? Would I read if it was a choice between a book, and the final 100/- to get my son (him, too) into the informal school at the end of my street?

If the issues above were non-issues, would I really read if I had not been dropped smack-dab into a world of readers(read psychotic family members who quote anything from the bible to JD Salinger to make a point) and books and people who valued books more than TV or any other form of entertainment? Would I be a reader if my step-dad had not initiated me into the world of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno so soon after being terrorised by the abbreviated version of Romeo & Juliet? (Now that I am grown up I can see why R & J should not ever be a representation of love & romance.) Would I be a reader if my mother had not spent whatever extra cash she could spare to buy us books?

I suppose the next question is, how has reading helped me? Anyone who knows me also knows I am a loud, stubborn, quite possibly narcissistic (working on it) individual. Reading helps me listen to voices other than my own 7. Reading helps me process new ideas and thoughts – such that I am not closed in on my own way of thinking. Reading helps me find solutions, to people problems and technical problems. Reading helps me deal with the world in a much better way, quite possibly much more patient, and less violent way.

My reading is the reason I have a job that I love. If I wasn’t a reader, I would never have dared pursue the line of work I am in with the amount of unabashed confidence that I possess. You could say to some extent that reading pays my bills.

More than anything, reading has saved my life. I have a theory that if I wasn’t a reader I’d be long dead by now, from heartbreak or from despair. Reading has pointed me to people (fictional or otherwise) who have survived so much worse than I have faced. Reading gives me that bolster of courage that convinces me that I owe the world one more day of productivity even when it is the last thing I want to face.

So: Seeing what reading has done for me, I am joining this chorus of voices that is calling for you, me and that guy in the orange shirt standing next to you (not orange, what is it, tangerine?) to help open up the world of possibilities for a child who needs it. You and I can be part of a movement to raise a generation of avid, adventorous, creative, innovative readers! We can do this by making books available to them and by supporting an awareness of the benefits of reading.

One way YOU can do this is by supporting Start-a-Library’s Read Aloud Campaign. So Let’s Read Aloud on the Day of the African Child!

Apply to be a 2015 Start a Library Ambassador
Apply to be a 2015 Start a Library Ambassador

 

 

2.30am – Half Arc Mystery

2.30am. Guillermo howling. Strange dog screaming. Cats yowling. Me stumbling outside to save my dog from hyenas with a… broomstick? I find Guillermo standing beside a strange white fluffy dog. Strange dog is hurt, bleeding from the side, trying to get up, screaming in pain, making Guillermo howl. Assorted cats all over the place.

Guillermo to hurt dog: You have to tell my human who hurt you. She’s fearless. She’ll get them. I promise.

Hurt dog lies down in defeat: Whimper. Whimper. Hurt. Dying.

Me: Oh my God so much blood.

Stranger in the night possibly serial killer: That dog has been shot. Be careful. It might bite. Here let me help.

Mother: Huh? Julie…

Brother: What’s going on?

Watchman: O nini?

Guillermo lays head on hurt dog’s neck: Shhh, stay calm let them help.

Hurt dog: Whimper. Whimper. Hurt. Dying.

Me: Oh my God so much blood.

Stranger in the night possibly serial killer maybe new neighbour now kneeling beside dog with his hand in the gaping hole in hurt dog’s side: Ah, got it. Okay, get me a knife (to kill us all? Shouldn’t you like, bring your own knife) and a big needle (what?), and some thread. Oh shit, not sure I can hold this thing.. I need some spirit too. And someone get me a phone, I need to call a vet friend.

Mother disappears into house.

Brother covers me with a shawl.

Watchman: Eh!

Guillermo: Shhh. Soft comforting whimper.

Me: Oh my God So much Blood.

Stranger in the night, possibly serial killer, maybe new neighbour: Hey kid, I’m going to need your help here. (He is looking at me, why is he looking at me? I am not a kid! Oh my God, so much blood!)

Me: What. Oh my God, so much blood.

Mother comes back with assorted things. Pushes me aside (Thank God! I think I am going to faint!) They work on dog for a few minutes. Then hurt dog is being sewn up. Hurt dog only whimpers. Guillermo is firm with the neck thing. He glances at me once. I think my dog is disgusted by me.

My brother is instructed to make phone call, conversation on speaker phone. Vet lives in neighbourhood. On his way.

Me thinking: Whatever. Somebody shot a dog!

Stranger in the night, is next door neighbour’s son and an army medic I gather from conversation with mother. Still possibly a serial killer, maybe shooter (anyone hear Army?): I didn’t hear a gunshot. I just heard the dog screaming. I thought your dog got out and hurt himself or something.

Neighbours from the other 3 houses in the shared compound now walk into our backyard.

There’s a car at main gate. Honking. Lights flashing. Watchman mumbles and runs off.

Me Thinking: Somebody shot a dog. We are outside. Wait, man, how and when did you even get into our backyard? Somebody shot a dog!

Car stops outside our small gate. Guy rushes out with bag – maybe murder weapons, no, medical kit. Ok.

Conversations. Conversations.

Vet: I might have to open her up, but looks like you did a good job stopping the bleeding. I’m going to have to take her to clinic. Whose dog?

Blank stares. No one knows whose dog it is. It is a cute mix, I think. White fluffy hair.

Me: Somebody shot a dog.

Neighbour lady: Ai jamaneni. That is cruel!

Me: Somebody shot a dog. And we are all outside at 3.30am.

Neighbour guy: I didn’t hear a gunshot. Did you hear a gunshot? This dog probably ran a long way. I don’t know any neighbour who has this breed. I am in the neighbourhood watch. I know most people here. We aren’t so many.

Me thinking: Exactly. Somebody shot a dog in the great wide Savannah and we are just standing outside. What if the great Savannah serial killer comes and kills us all? (That would be a spree killer, but whatever, you get my drift.)

Vet and army medic load up dog into car with Guillermo’s help. I almost think Guillermo will go with them. But he walks back and stands next to my brother, eyeing me with *that* look.

Army guy, still possibly serial killer or shooter: We’ll check in with the cops after doc fixes her. Maybe someone in the neighbourhood was attacked. They can check.

Neighbours wandering off back to their homes. Brother pulls me into house. Mother sighs and goes off to wash off blood.

Guillermo still looks disgusted by me.

Me: What? There was so much blood. Don’t go around promising people, I mean, other animals, that I’ll be fearless.

Guillermo, lying down to lick paws. Totally disgusted by me.

Brother: You totally froze up.

Me: Somebody shot a dog! There was so much blood. And don’t gang up on me with the dog. What did you do?

Brother: Go back to bed. We’ll figure out what happened in the morning. When its daylight. And everyone is wearing more than lesos, pajamas and… Oh God, Julie, those shorts are short!

Me: Somebody shot a dog! There was so much blood.

Brother stumbles back to bedroom. Guillermo follows him (traitor!)

Mother: Phew! That was crazy! Come on! Back to bed!

Me: Somebody shot a dog!

 ——————
Sadly, cute doggie had lost way too much blood and eventually died. We still have no idea where she came from, or how she got hurt. She might just feature as a half arc mystery in my new story.