Lately I have been thinking about tennis. Tennis was a game that was played between two people on a court of different composition, using sticks filled with a wirery mesh called racquets. You would hit these small balls with the racquets across the court, and keep hitting it until someone misses. Over and over, back and forth, sort of like a clock that stops and starts again. I used to watch my mommy play it before nobody was allowed to play sports anymore. I hated tennis, I thought it was really boring. But I used to use the balls to throw to my dog. His name was Strawberry, and he was my best friend in the world, and it’s the only reason I started thinking about tennis.
When we got him, my parents let my sister pick out his name, and my sister picked Strawberry. I hated my sister for picking that name, and I remember thinking “That name is so girly and prissy, and he looks more like a Butch anyway” But the name stuck, and so my best friend in the world became a manly dog named Strawberry. And he was a mean looking dog too. His face was always pouting, and he growled a lot at people, but I know deep down that he was the nicest, bestest dog in the world. He never showed that to anybody but mommy, daddy, and me though. We would roll in the grass patch in our backyard, and I would throw tennis balls to him. I thought it was funny when Strawberry went pee-pee on our tree, but Daddy always yelled at him for it because he said there’s not enough trees left for him to do that anymore. Strawberry was my best friend, and I know that I was his. He didn’t like other people much though, especially Civilian Protection. Whenever Civilian Protection came to search the house, he would always growl at them, and sometimes even snap his teeth. I guess it was why they took him away.
Daddy told me something else though. He said that the Kommisar didn’t want anybody who had mommies or daddies that weren’t his friends to have pets. I don’t know what that has to do with Strawberry and me, but Civil Protection came and took Strawberry away anyway. I cried a lot afterwards, and I never really forgot Strawberry. I wanted to get another pet, if not a dog then a cat, gerbil, rat, anything. But nobody would sell a pet to Daddy or me anymore, because he wasn’t a friend of the Kommisar.
Kpoejc from down the street could. His daddy was a friend of the Kommisar and his mommy was too, so he got to have a pet. He had a little bird called Samsa, and he brought it to school every day with him so other kids who couldn’t have pets could play with him. Samsa didn’t have any wings, but we learned in history that birds used to be able to fly. We would all gather round Kpojec and he would let us play with Samsa as long as we promised not to tell anyone, and nobody did. Not until Civil Protection came to check the school and found out that Kpojec was showing us Samsa every day. Kpojec stopped coming to school after that.
Every day I got a little bit more sad. I missed Strawberry, and I couldn’t even see Samsa or Kpojec again. Daddy was sad too, because he kept hearing that China and America might fight us because the Kommisar was a bad person. I asked him “Daddy, but won’t it be good if China fights us and beats the Kommisar?”
“No,” he said, “because he’ll sack-ri-fice all of us first before that happens.” Mommy told him to hush, because people might be listening, but I think it was just to protect me. I didn’t understand what he meant by sack-ri-ficing us, so I forgot it.
On the day I came here, I was walking down the street when I saw a shaggy looking dog. He was very thin, and had a lot of sores on his back. I thought it was weird seeing a dog out on the street, so I went to take a closer look. He looked up at me, and I knew that it was Strawberry! He had the same face, the same eyes, it was him! I grabbed him in the middle of the street and hugged him really tight. I was so happy to see him again, I was almost crying. But then, a boy came running at me. “Get away from my dog!” he said. He was about my age, but with blonde hair and blue eyes. He had a prodding iron in his hand, and it was already glowing blue. I saw Civil Protection use them before on people, but I never saw a kid my age have one, so I thought his daddy was in Civil Protection.
“What happened to him,” I asked, “Why is he all bruised?”
He took the prodding iron and hit me with it. It didn’t hurt as much as it made me feel…weird. I hurt, but my arms and legs turned to jell-o and I fell to the floor on my face. That part hurt. His daddy came out of the house and was standing there. “Atta boy, you sic him!” he said. I was really scared. Where was mommy and daddy? All the people on the street were standing there, why didn’t they help me?
The boy raised the prodding iron again. “I’ll teach you to disrespect me!” he said, and he starting hitting me with it. I couldn’t defend myself because my legs and arms were all wobbly, and even if I did his daddy would probably hurt me too. He kept hitting me with the prodding iron, and I started crying. But for some reason, each time it hurt less and less, and eventually it stopped hurting at all. Then, I heard a horrible shriek. My vision was going black, and I couldn’t see much, but I could hear those screams. “Aaaaaah! Get him off me! Daddy help! Get this freaking dog off me!”.
“Don’t just stand there and gape, somebody get that dog off him!” his daddy screamed. I couldn’t see anything anymore, and the voices were starting to fade away. The boy still kept screaming, and his daddy kept yelling at the people. “If you don’t help my son right now, I’m placing you all under arrest! Every last one of you!” Then the sounds faded away…and then I woke up here.
Thanks a lot for listening to me you guys. I’m still a little bit scared, everything is so new. But everyone here has been really nice to me, and I like it here a lot. I just wish mommy and daddy were here too…but who knows? Maybe I’ll see them here one day, and they’ll have Strawberry too, and maybe…maybe we can all be a family again.