Two Silent Cries

an excerpt

Chapter 1

A vibration on his wrist, and then a wet tongue across his face woke Micah Valery up. He hugged and petted his golden retriever, Goldie, then stretched. He checked his watch, and mentally ran through everything he had to do today. Smiling as he remembered he had a lunch date later that day with Kelly Laherne--his best friend--he got up and headed to the shower. Twenty minutes later, he stood in front of the mirror, shaving, with Goldie at his feet, waiting patiently. She knew that they would eat when he was done with his morning routine. She had been with him for four years now, and she was a wonderful, loving, constant companion, always attentive to his various moods.

He finished shaving, eyeing himself in the mirror. He was average in looks really, brown hair that he kept a little long, average brown eyes. Kelly liked to call him a twink but now in his thirties he felt he was a little old for such a term. He shrugged to himself, then dressed, and Goldie led the way to the back door of his little house, waiting patiently for him to catch up. It was her turn to answer her needs. He opened the door for her, and she rushed out, sniffing, tail wagging, and finally doing her business. She was off again, exploring, and he left the door open so Goldie could hear the phone or doorbell for him. In the meantime, he sat at the patio table and enjoyed the early morning sunshine. At another vibration from his watch, he looked at the time. Time to go in and work; Goldie's playtime was over now.

Micah clapped his hands and watched Goldie expectantly, surprised that she didn't immediately turn from her explorations and come to him. Frowning, he clapped again, and still she didn't turn. He stood up and strode over to her. She looked up at him when he got close and came to him playfully, obviously thinking Micah wanted to play. He clapped again, frowning at her, and she instantly went alert, sitting down and watching him for further instruction. It dawned on him that he'd had this problem with her on occasion for about a month now, and he became very worried. Was something wrong with Goldie? He gave her the hand signal that indicated they were going for a drive. She wagged her tail, and ran to the front door, picking her leash up in her mouth, then sitting and waiting patiently for him. As he moved through the kitchen, he noted he had messages on his phone system, calls from last night and that morning--calls Goldie hadn't alerted him to.

Whatever the calls were, they could wait; there had to be something wrong with Goldie. She'd always been reliable. He swallowed hard as the worst thoughts began to race through his mind. He had to sit down to calm himself, and try to breathe properly, but it didn't help. A panic attack took hold of him, leaving the room spinning, and he suddenly couldn't breathe. Numbness spread through his body, a tingling, almost painful sensation through his nerves, starting with his fingers, feet, and lips, before it encompassed his entire body. He fell out of the chair, too dizzy to stay upright, not even feeling the pain when he hit the floor.

Micah was barely aware of Goldie responding, working to herd and drag him back to his bedroom, pushing the special latch on his closet and herding him into it, before using the small rope to pull it closed. Then she crowded close to him, and he clutched at her. He struggled to keep his breathing slow, even as his head spun and vision swam. Her body vibrated as she sat in his lap. He'd been told that she was growling when she did that, but the vibration he felt from her somehow helped to soothe him when these attacks hit him. Gradually, his brain began to function properly again, and small aches made themselves known. He was sure to have bruises again, and from the feel of his right leg, at least one light bite mark from Goldie trying to drag him toward the closet, as she'd been trained to do. The small space helped him feel safe, making it slightly easier to get through the panic attacks.

He hugged her tightly and petted her head, scratching behind her ears and down her chest, thanking her. He reached for the pouch of treats that hung on the wall in the closet, feeling for it, pulling out a couple to give her for doing her job well. Sedately, she ate them, then licked his face, sniffing at him, obviously making sure he was okay now.

Carefully he stood up in the small closet, not wanting to step on her, then he indicated they were going for a drive. That time she followed him, instead of racing to the door ahead of him. She was still nursemaiding him.

Get her to the vet. You can't do anything for her or find out what's wrong if you don't keep it together to get her to the vet. He reminded himself sternly as the negative, panicky side of his brain wanted to collapse again in a heap at the idea of anything happening to Goldie. He leashed her, and then opened the door, stepping out into the early morning sun. He led her into his little Mazda then after looking around very carefully, backed out of the drive, and went straight to the vet clinic. All the way there, he kept reminding himself to keep it together, that Goldie came first, and he couldn't fall apart right now. He could fall apart later, when Goldie was better.