"This would'n be true, now wouldit, Nathaniel Winston? Tell me it t'isn't,” The long furred collie in a bonnet and baby blue dress laid down the printed news on the deli table. "I c'mere full expectin' we'd be spendin' the summer on the Whale Bone Isles like we'd planned to do once you was right out'f yer schoolin' an' ye go an' join the army?"
The hay colored fur german shepherd looking fellow she was addressing wiped the crumbs from a ham sandwich from his snout with a cloth napkin. "I'm sorry sweet Molly, it is true."
"What a fine kettle o' fish," she pulled a chair out, sitting opposite from him now at the wobbly little table. She slumped and pouted, "An' what's an intellectual like ye doin' getting mixed up in the infernnal war? I surely was thinkin' ye'd stay inta the books like ye always did."
"For your sake Molly, and all the other townspeople, don't you see that?" He searched her eyes for understanding. She may be a commoner, and not as full of the wisdom of the greatest teachers the nation had to offer as he was, but that didn't mean she had any lack of spirit or determaintion.
"For me? Now don't ye be doin' me no favors, Nathaniel Winston, don't ye be doin' me NO favors." She sat up again. "How is someone like'n yeself goin' to stand up to all those wolf-brutes?"
"I'm not,” he stated simply.
"Aye, not one day yet joined to the army and already ye turn tail." She shook her head disappointedly, making a 'snick' sound at the back of her jaw. Leaning back in her chair she looked at him hard.
"No, Molly, you mistook me. What I mean is that I won't be in combat." He had his paws held pads open, as if speaking as if in debate would get through to her. "I'm an information officer. I'll be processing data, maps, decoding messages, and helping to come up with strategy. You see now?" He raised his eyebrows waiting for her to nod. She didn't.
"All I see is an empty spot where yer supposed to be at, that's all” She tapped her filed claws furiously at a knot on the wood table. "Ye leave yer friends - me most of all, since ye were but a wee little pup we've been friends - ye leave all of us behind to go get yer neck cut by a brute's sword."
"Molly, it isn't as all bad as you say. I'll send you money, good money, back home and I'll write you once a week every week and tell you how I am getting along. Now I expect you'll write me back and tell me everything I'm missing here in the country. Promise you will, Molly."
Relenting to that one request, but still crossing her arms, she huffed, "Aye, I promise." She paused only a second before growling under her breath, "What a fine to-do."
"Now I know you're upset but we'll always be the best of friends just as we've always been,” he sandwiched her paws between his in that promise. "You can take those tickets and give them to your mother. Let her have a nice vacation with her daughter to see the sights and buy some souvenirs. Or take any of your other friends..."
"OUR friends,” she reminded him, breaking away and standing up. "Oh, ye forget us an yer not gone yet! Aye, it won't aver be the same without ye! I save up me coins years and years for that trip an' you just take off. I'm in the right mind not to write ye!"
"Please, Molly? You promised." His ears and tail drooped. His forlorn expression wore away at her stubbornness.
"Well, ye have fun out sav'n the world. I'll write ye. An ye'll get a good peice of me mind," she tapped the lace fringe of her bonnet, "until ye come to ye senses and get yeself here, where ye belong. Unless suppos'n ye think yer too good for us, now that ye have a degree." She stormed out as she'd stormed in.
Brushing off the table, he took the plate to the counter himself. Furry faces looked to him having heard his hand his friend's conversation. They wanted him to say goodbye. They wanted to wish him luck. They wanted him to give a patriotic cheer. They wanted to know this country wasn’t sending its brightest and best young men into danger for nothing. Nathaniel only gave them a quiet nod. He hadn’t wanted to say goodbye to anyone. Goodbyes are melancholy ... if he never said goodbye then there would be no finality to his leaving.
As usual, the bill was put on his tab. With his conscription he’d be able to pay off this and all his debts for good. They money wasn’t his only motivation. Unlike most who enlisted in the army, he wasn't in it to kill as many wolves as he could. Quite the contrary, he was hoping he wouldn’t have to commit any type of murder, politically sanctioned or not. Nathaniel was plagued with curiosity. Everyone knew the two basic reasons for the dispute: difference in race and lust for land. He wanted the details. From there the enterprising lad wanted to see if there was any way to work out the difference of the two sides. Idealist, perhaps, but he saw it as a much better than adding more fuel to the fire.
For now he enjoyed his last leisurely stroll down main street. How quaint and familiar this town was. Horse drawn carts were still the main means of transportation- clopping, clanking and jingling over the cobblestone roads. Time moved slowly as it always had. There was always enough time to savor every moment. As a pup, is seemed boring and endless. Now his time here was almost up. Part of him was worried, though not as much as Molly, about what he'd encounter after abandoning the innocence of his home.
Songbirds and friendly gossip chattered about him. Laundry swung in the slight breeze on lines strung between houses with only paths for side yards. Fresh fragrance of flowers in window boxes filled his leathery nose. Canine children played their carefree games with homemade and store bought toys. The world was theirs, running in circles and laughing, wagging their tails happily behind them. Two riding bicycles nearly collided with him. He didn't chide them. As long as they weren't doing too much harm, he'd let them be. For a moment he did wonder why he was leaving a utopia such as this. He’d have to make due recording it as-is in his memory. He tried not to forget any detail, no matter how small. He'd later recreate the atmosphere of this near-perfection in his daydreams again and again while miles from here.
"Well, he reflected in the present aloud, "for a Utopia to remain as one, there have to be those who know what is going on outside its parameters, willing to protect their homeland agianst any ills." He shoved his paws into his pockets and kept walking. The mid day sun warmed his fur. "I wonder if that same bright circle shines the same everywhere?"
"Ah've heard,” offered one of the gossiping women who hair and ears were hidden under a handkerchief, a mother of two of the frolicking puppies, "There are some places so far north you dun' feel the sun much a'tall. All you feel is COLD."
"No wonder the wolves are so jealous of our fair land, then." He did smile at her, for the sake of the two little ones on either side of her apron. Nathaniel then moved on.
[ STORY IS IN PROGRESS! It is NOT done! ]