It was a long time ago when Crab and I were young and we were all together. We were small and then big and things were the same as when we were small until the time when we were big, and I liked it. But things changed.
I remember the first one and how small it felt, but how big it feels now. It was late afternoon and we were alone all day. Our man and woman left early, like they always did, and we were by ourselves. We always did the same thing: after they left we would climb into the bed and sleep. I liked to get way down inside where it was dark and quiet and Crab climbed up on the pillows. We would wake up later on, one of us first and then the other, and go outside through the small door to see if anything in the yard had changed; it usually hadn’t, but we had to check. Crab liked to yell at people and animals, but I just did the checking. It was important. I smelled all the bushes, the ground, each fence post and the two trees. If something was different, I corrected it, but there wasn’t always much to correct, so sometimes I just did it anyway, to be sure.
The mornings were restless and full of work but the afternoons were when things got quiet. When the bright square fell on the floor we knew they would be home soon. We shared the square on the floor and would lie together, enjoying the heat on our dark backs. These were the times I enjoyed the most with my brother.
Then one day I felt him stirring, heard him sighing more than usual, growling a little.
“What is it?” I asked.
Crab didn’t answer. He stood up and began stretching, then slowly walked back toward the bedroom.
“Where are you going? You’re going to miss it.”
"I don't like the floor. I don't like it because it's hard."
"Since when don't you like the floor? We always lie here."
"I like the bed better. I always have."
And he left.
Crab and I both liked to go in the car. It didn’t matter where we were going. Sometimes where we went was bad and we could smell blood there, but even though we knew we might be going to that place we always still liked the ride. They would open the windows and let us look at the things and let us smell them. Crab would yell and run back and forth from my window to his. “Can you see anything? Do you see anything happening?” he would ask. Over and over he asked the same questions. I wouldn’t respond, even when there was something to see, because I wanted to see it all for myself. It was my job to notice things, not his.
When we were smaller they brought us to a hollow building. It smelled old and dusty and like many strange people, but some familiar people, too. We didn’t like to be there very much, but all the people were so happy and we knew we were safe.
Everyone touched us. They were all neat and showing teeth. They sat very still and tense while they chattered and touched us on our backs and heads. Every time the man came near us he would wipe himself and scowl. He wasn’t acting normal, and he was dressed all dark. He looked like us. Later we saw our woman and she was so big and bright that she looked like a huge white ball. We couldn’t even look at her for too long because it hurt our eyes.
Crab didn’t like tension and everything about the day made him nervous. He liked being touched but the way our man was acting bothered him. Crab was pacing around the room and stopped suddenly. He looked at the man and yelled, and everyone got quiet.
When we were all together we went to an open space filled with others. There were men and women and people there like my brother and me, people who understood. Crab was always so happy when we went there and ran with the others. They all yelled and climbed on each other, they chased and bit.
I always introduced myself but as soon as they started yelling I would leave to walk on along the fence and find things. This was my job, to see if there was anything dangerous, to see if there were any memories in the smells. I climbed everything there was the climb, followed the trails, and circled the trees. Every blade of grass was important. I would pause from my work from time to time to look for my brother. He was always in the middle of a group of people, laughing and yelling and jumping. Then I would look for our man and woman, and they were always together.
Sometimes we got into the car and went very far. The ride was too long and Crab and I would get tired of the outside and feel sleepy and sick so we lied down. When we stopped we were in a different place, a place that was unfamiliar and strange. We got out of the car and another woman always greeted us. She was old.
There were smells here that were unknown to us and it felt like less people were around. There were more trees and more grass. They let us run free here, but it wasn’t like where we usually went because it was just my brother and me, alone. We would stay close to each other here, always.
After we ran we would eat, and there were usually bones, too. The other woman would stroke our ears gently and her house was warm and quiet. Crab and I loved it there, except that we weren’t allowed to be on the bed.
Crab left with our woman one day, just the two of them, and the man and I were alone together for a long time. He felt strange. He wouldn’t move a lot, he wouldn’t talk to me. I missed my brother and I was bored. I missed our woman. At night the bed felt lonely.
We took the long trips more and more, always to the place where my brother and I ran together alone. I didn’t like to run without him. I tried but always went to the door after a while. I didn’t want to be alone.
The man let me into the bed here after our woman and Crab left. The first time, he leaned down and stroked my head and whistled, patting the space beside him. He said my name.
I beat the ground with my tail.
Slowly I lifted myself up. I smelled him and beat my tail to make sure it was okay, then curled into the empty space and sighed. He curled his body around me and sighed, too, because he didn’t want to be alone either.