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Vegetarian girl with beautiful eyes at subway interracial lesbians Maple Shade

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There are also aspects that will be borrowed from or directly inspired from Zootopia's pre-production works and concepts from Nicolaswilde's "Zistopia" Tumblr blog.

Said story itself is a fan-based non-profit work of fiction written strictly for entertainment purposes only. Please support the official releases. I am the Law In the kitchen on the second floor of a small brownstone townhouse that served both as home and business for a small family of foxes in Happytown District of Zootopia. The trio of vulpines was gathered around the eating and cooking area, dressed in their Sunday best and reveling in the wind-down of the day. Despite the rather poor conditions, the tenants were a happy lot.

After all, it was a great time for a predator to be alive! If the news was correct, the collars they were forced to wear were but months away from coming off and for the first time, the carnivores of the city-state had hope for their future.

Although for most it was the promise of a better tomorrow for their children but for them that was enough. Father and son were still settled at the kitchen table, the larger and—surprisingly—broad-chested adult as spending the evening regaling his son about his time in the armed forces, the boy hanging onto his every word.

So quiet and serene I'm sure our mission was named such because of religious connotation but when we were out there? You could see ALL the night sky, all the stars Then after a moment, he added, "Although you had to be bundled up if you were going to be outside when the sun went down.

Despite us being stationed in a desert, it would get colder than a bitch's tit! She didn't want her boy picking up any of that, 'sailor talk'. Even as his wife gave him a meaningful glare, the male red fox continued.

That meant while they didn't have the reptiles in their borders, they had no protection from their former allies either! That meant we, thanks to the Camp David peace accords, had to be there four months to train the Egyptians into an armed defense force I tell you, it went a lot smoother than we expected.

The local mau cats and jackals were rather enamored with us: The boy blinked his big and rounded bright green eyes a couple of times in curiosity. Did they make you and all the other guys breakfast? She made the best blueberry cobbler in the whole world! John began to open his mouth A rather mischievous grin crossed his muzzle as he began lying expertly through his teeth like foxes were stereotyped for in reply, "Yes son. Every morning, someone was getting breakfast from the locals. Didn't mean he couldn't needle the latter though!

More than anything, I knew that Francine was the woman for me It made it difficult to even think about enjoying any of the offered Was it like, a super-long string? At least her husband was trying to keep things clean for their son's sake, even if all that did was confuse the poor cub. Don't take your father too seriously, Nick.

Your dad's just a hopeless romantic at heart. The adult male fox raised an eyebrow at his wife's comment. I'm the hopeless romantic, am I? The vixen's eyes snapped wide open and she practically dropped the plate back into the sink. She knew how excited both of them could get and She really should've known better than to tempt a fellow fox like that. Turning his attention back to his son, John continued, "Mind you, we only knew each other briefly before that.

She turned me down in our last year because, and I quote: The woman standing by the sink blushed so brightly that it managed to blaze through the natural crimson of her pelt, lighting her up like a Christmas tree. The man's grin became a rather toothy one. It took a bit, but the young fox cub was able to get over his fit of giggles. His attention going to his father, young Nicholas asked, "What did you do, Pa?

He allowed his son to mull over it for a moment before the uncertainty that had marred his expression broke out into a mischievous smile. The poor vixen's blush went absolutely nuclear as her collar started beeping, letting her know if she didn't calm down, she was getting an electric shock.

Laughing even as his wife attempted to get a stranglehold on him, the buff red fox with slicked back haired turned his head to face back towards his boy, even as his woman continued to try and wallop him playfully with her bright yellow latex-gloved fists. Slowly but surely, his natural night-vision began to adjust offering him clarity of sight in the softly illuminated room. As unknown surroundings began to take shape, the phantom feelings of grief that echoed in the back of the vulpine's mind were immediately replaced by surprise.

Even his sensation of touch was alerting the fox he was atop of and surrounded by things that, while soft, were unfamiliar. His body began fighting at his bindings without the fox needing the think, his ingrained fight or flight response kicking into high-gear, demanding he get away from whatever was going on!

However, the moment of wariness came to a halt almost as immediately as it began when realization came to the pawpsicle hustler, understanding hitting him harder than a freight train on the Zootopia's closed subway line.

The nice soft 'bed' was actually Clawhauser's couch with one of the sofa's throw-pillows and a spare blanket finishing off the sleeping space That's right , Wilde realized with growing relief.

I had taken Benji up on his offer. And in doing so, he would be staying with the policeman for at least the next two weeks, the feline's living room becoming an impromptu bedroom for the fox. Guy's really too nice for his own good , the vulpine thought as he closed his eyes again, pulling the blanket around himself once more. Hasn't seen or talked to me in practically a decade and he's willing to practically give me the shirt off his back.

Really, such generosity and altruism was practically unheard of in the canid's long and sordid career. And yet Wilde understood that perhaps that was why the chubby feline was able to successfully become a cop. He really took the whole motto of, 'To Protect and Serve' to the logical extreme.

The red fox rolled over so that he was facing the couch's backrest. Then again , Nick began to think. It was one thing to be compassionate Not that the vulpine would ever do anything like that to spotted feline, far from it! Benjamin, Fennick, and the red fox himself were like the three amigos!

They had worked hard together at Chez Cheeze's during high school, sacrificing blood, sweat, and tears to earn their minimum wage paychecks signed off by their figurative and literal rat bastard of a boss. They had suffered for the almighty dollar together and by whatever God was up there, such was a bond that would not be broken! If anything, that was probably why Nick felt guilty crashing at the cheetah's place.

He felt he owed the guy even if the portly policeman insisted he didn't. The simple fact Benji wanted nothing in return for going out of his way to aid an old friend in need was just foreign. It seemed outright wrong to the scam artist vulpine that his feline pal would do all this without any compensation. The mystery of it all was enough to keep him up at night And I would much prefer that keeping me up than my memories , was the sentiment that went through the back of the canid conman's mind, the unwanted train of thought making his emerald eyes snap open once more in a fully alert state of being.

Nick understood his thoughts had initially gone to Benjamin's situation on reflex. It was almost a defense mechanism to keep from thinking about times long since passed.

He couldn't help it. As much as Nick practically lived by the promise of, 'never let anyone see they got to him' he made that night long ago outside of the headquarters for Zootopia Junior Ranger's Troop , it was in his quiet alone moments that everything seemed to break down.

When traitorous thoughts that perhaps he'd been wasting his life would pop into his head and taunt him with the possibility that perhaps he could move beyond being something besides shifty and untrustworthy So what if you're a fox? You are the result of four-billion years of evolutionary success!

So fucking act like it! His gaze lowering to the coffee table between him and the big screen TV, the vulpine reached forward and lifted his cell phone off the piece of furniture.

He winced as he realized it was only seven minutes after four in the morning. He had already made plans to be up early for Carmelita, that he and Finnick would get breakfast ready for her and drive her into town her first morning on the job Not enough time to relax and get back to sleep. Sitting there in the darkness with his eyes drawn to his phone, Nick decided if he had to suffer through this, he wasn't doing it alone.

So quickly bringing up his contact list, he pressed the screen atop of the name Finnick and brought the phone to the side of his head, listening to the ringing of the phone. One chime, two chimes, a third, a fourth. The vulpine felt relief as the very groggy baritone voice that he recognized as his partner's came over the line.

I swear to God almighty! If this is a social call, I am going to stab you when I see you next. I am going to stab you and I don't think I'll be able to stop! For one thing, it's not good for your blood pressure. I mean, this is Nick we're talking about. Darn Modern Literature Majors thought they knew everything.

A difficult task considering he was already on edge from that haunting memory that plagued his sleep. He just probably switched it on when he was reaching for his phone in his sleep.

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The beginning of our lives was in a collar and then we had to adapt to being out of it. I was never able to get over the advice my first boss ever gave me. Do you remember what it was? Considering that for a moment, the crimson-pelted canid could only frown. Again, Benjamin nodded his head. It helped me gain a 'pleasantly plump' build Because the animals around me felt better as I was fat.

Oh sure, lions are seen as noble and just. Tigers are exotic and majestic. We're cast in the public mind as speed freaks. And if I can't run, then I'm not seen as a threat and everyone else can relax. Even you feel calmer around me because in the back of your mind, your instincts are telling you, 'I can outrun this lard-ass if I have to' And just like that, Nick gave him a flat stare that bordered on being an angry glare.

Closing his emerald eyes for a moment, the vulpine countered backwards from five before he spoke aloud. I'm betting that you could still outrun most everyone if you had to. Turning his faze down towards the smaller predator, the pudgy policeman raised an eyebrow. Yes," Nick finally admitted after a moment. I didn't think my call would wake you.

Waving off the tiny—in comparison—mammal's apology, the chubby cheetah cheerily chirruped, "Oh that's no problem, Nicholas! Tell you what though. Since we're both up this early, we might as well get dressed and I'll take you out to a nice breakfast.

He sells the cheaper stuff like bugs and tofu but he makes excellent protein-packed fish and egg treats! Sounds good to me. After a rough night and an early wakeup, decent food and some coffee sounded perfect. The pair chuckled as they went their separate ways; Clawhauser back to his room and Nick to his suitcase The vulpine was hopeful he would be energized when it came time to pick up Miss Fox and take her to that stupid press conference.

The vixen had to admit: Honey's home was a lot nicer than it appeared during her first inspection of the place. Sure, the style of the architecture and the furniture was rather dated and many of the rooms could use some serious sprucing up, but that didn't matter. More than anything, the woman needed a safe haven in Zootopia where she could get her bearings and figure things out for herself in peace.

Sadly, the fact of the matter was that at the moment, Inspector Fox just couldn't focus on anything specifically as far too much had been going on lately. The situation her life had ended up with was definitely a trying one.

She'd faced many trials and tribulations over her career, from chasing a well-known master thief for five years to being betrayed by corrupt Interpol officers to helping destroy an evil immortal owl— twice —to wining and dining that same master thief for another three years! But oh, over the eight years of her life spent with Sly The happiest in her life!

Even if during the last six months the raccoon had held tightly onto some unspoken tension—unease which she now realized was him trying and failing to keep from back-sliding—it had still been a wonderful time and she wouldn't have traded it for the world. However, nothing Carmelita had been through could have prepared her for turn their lives took. Sly possibly lost in time Dropping a white towel the Latina beauty had been holding onto the bathroom floor, the vulpine policewoman stepped in the bathtub; her hand reaching for the dial in the wall and turning it.

As the first drops of moisture hit her pelt, she couldn't help but remember how their last day together had gone, the memory vivid and clear to an almost haunting level. From the breakfast she made them, the kiss on the cheek Sly had given her, the mission rundown and prep work at both Interpol and the museum Rage which made her careless Fortunately, Sly and his gang—including his ancestor, Tennessee—had saved her but even after she teamed up with them once more in the Ice Age, she had spent the rest of their time while hopping between eras being petulant.

The Hispanic red fox refused to hear the Ringtail's apologies or explanations out because of the hurt she felt and held onto. She stayed mad at him when they should have been spending that time figuring out how to save not only his family's legacy but their relationship! Releasing a long-suffering sigh as the droplets of water began to heat up and form steam, the vixen stood there without moving at all.

Instead, she could only focus on the voices chattering in the back of her mind, the memories of their past few months together. The remembered conversations that kept repeating the same words while imagery flashed before her eyes, over and over again, all of it clear as crystal. No matter what angle the woman looked at it, she couldn't deny it. Yes, it was obvious that Sly had been lying to her It was no wonder the raccoon had regressed to his old ways. He'd been fighting off and suffering through the temptation for a while.

Suddenly having such an enticing target, one that was plainly visible from their Paris apartment for that last month must have driven him crazy. And it's partly my fault it got that bad for him , Carmelita thought with growing despair.

I could see how much something was bothering him and instead of helping him, I went into denial! I tried to pretend nothing was wrong. If I just talked to him, none of this would have happened. We could have worked things out and I wouldn't be stuck out here in specist central while Cooper's out there with no way home Shuddering, the Latina vulpine lowered her face as she moved closer towards the showerhead. Placing her hands against the wall, she propped herself up directly underneath the running faucet, putting as much of herself beneath the water as it pounded down in steaming droplets.

Her soaked navy blue tresses started cascading at either side of her face as the stream of hot water collided with her furry body, easing the release of tension. Taking a deep breath, the woman closed her chocolate eyes and exhaled slowly as the flow of steamy water enveloped her body.

For a long while, Carmelita allowed the hot shower to soak into her fur, trying to lose herself to the slowly growing burning sensation that was building over her body. Finally, she straightened up to full height once more, her right hand reaching over to a small alcove in the wall, taking a bottle off the shelf within. Looking over the bottle of shampoo for a moment, the Latina beauty popped the top of the cap, the scent that came forth aromatic and fresh.

Taking a large handful of the cleansing gel in her left palm, the vixen placed the bottle back onto its alcove. She rubbed her hands together, forming the liquid soap into a foamy lather before she worked the sudsy body wash gel into her fur, hoping to ease lingering pain that remained in her body. She needed to be at her best for this upcoming press conference and that included being alert and limber. The female red fox would be damned if she gave Zootopia any more reasons to hate and distrust her.

They already saw her as untrustworthy and shifty; Miss Fox certainly didn't want to give them reasons to add, 'lazy' to the list. And that was when the door to the bathroom swung open; a certain Hawaiian shirt-clad vulpine's hand on the handle. His emerald eyes couldn't help but take in every curve, every detail. The only thing that would have made it better was if she was more bent over. Still, he got a peek at the hidden goods between her legs At hearing the male voice in the room with her, the woman's eyes snapped wide-open, the sudden burst of adrenaline immediately bursting through whatever lamentations her mind may have been processing.

What the actual fucking hell!? Having been thrown completely off-kilter by the beauteous visage before him, Nick stood there for several minutes, his face redder than his pelt as his blood was rushing everywhere but his brain during that time. Finally though, the woman screaming at the top of her lungs managed to jostle some sensibility into him; the male vulpine averting his gaze as he tried to explain himself. More importantly, what brings you here already?

It's not that late is it? He squeezed the volume button on the side, causing the screen to flash back on. Letting out a sigh, the woman replied, "I didn't expect you for another hour. Besides, how did you get in here anyway? I thought I locked the doors. Once again, the canid conman's hand slid into his other pocket and brought up a key-ring, shaking his wrists to jingle and jangle the small metal pieces.

Anyway," he coughed into his hand, wanting to change the subject and prolong his presence with the naked woman.

It's downstairs in the kitchen with Finnick if you want to eat there with us She couldn't fault him for wanting to be helpful.

It's what she was paying him for. Taking a deep breath to calm her now frazzled nerves, she then responded aloud, "All right! Just give me about ten minutes to finish getting cleaned up. I'll be with you and Mr. Nodding his head, the male vulpine started to turn about Despite his instincts telling him to get out, the fox couldn't help but press his luck.

The opportunity was too good to pass up! And only thirty bucks an hour too, as per our agreement! The artery on the left side of the vixen's head visibly throbbed through her pelt. Realizing that yes, his luck had indeed met its limit, the male red fox nodded his head quickly in understanding. I'll see you when you get out!

It sure as hell beat memories he fought so valiantly to suppress, that was for darn certain! When no immediate verbal threat to his genitals came through the door, the crimson-pelted canid took a deep breath to try and calm himself. Walking through Honey's home, the vulpine male soon entered the kitchen where he caught sight of his partner in crime tearing into one of the breakfast burritos. The desert fox noisily chewed on a mouthful of scrambled eggs, sliced pieces of red and green peppers, and bits of tofu sausage crumbles as he tore into one of the delicious burritos.

Swallowing the food, the smaller vulpine then chirruped in a far clearer tone, "The breakfast you had us pick up was excellent! How did you discover that place? Nick smile down at his partner. While he was usually one to revel in praise, he decided to give Benji his due.

It might help speed up the fennec's acceptance of the cheetah having become a cop. He's the one who showed me that food truck!

Not as good as Snarlbucks but it would certainly do in a pinch! Nodding his head, the petite sandy-furred vulpine admitted, "He's got good taste. What did you do to piss her off, Wilde? You walk in on Miss Fox while she was dressing or something? A shit-eating grin spread across the red fox's muzzle in response. Dropping the uneaten half of his breakfast burrito onto the sheet of aluminum foil it had been wrapped with, the smaller vulpine's ears lowered to either side of his head as his eyes widened while the pupils dilated to the size of pin-pricks.

Catching the sight of his partner's face managing to somehow go a brighter shade of red despite being crimson-furred, Finnick couldn't help but whistle. Good on you, Wilde! Watching as his fellow vulpine made his way to the breakfast nook, the small predator sighed irritably. I mean, I got a girl of my own anyway Nodding his head in understanding as he reached for one of the tinfoil-wrapped breakfast items that wasn't a burrito, the canid conman couldn't help but query, "I take it that is why I haven't found myself stabbed yet?

Opening his mouth and taking a rather large bite out of his bagel sandwich, Wilde nodded his head in agreement. The food was pretty darn good. His gaze turning from his faux-Mexican breakfast, Finnick looked at the egg sandwich the other vulpine had gotten himself and raised an eyebrow. Deciding to ignore the baiting for once, the taller vulpine shrugged his partner off. He chewed thoroughly, his maw snapping open and shut a few times before swallowing. The fox then continued with, "I was always more of a waffles and coffee guy.

Looking towards his partner-in-law bending, the small desert predator raised an eyebrow as he gave him a speculative gaze. The garment clung closer to her body, doing little to hide her curves while her navy blue tresses were nearly flat against her skull, the curl and airiness to her hair currently subdued by all the moisture it contained To Nick, it was almost like he was witnessing the painting of the Birth of Venus!

Wilde was much more articulate with his thoughts but this woman seemed to knock the common sense out of him and send the red fox's brain straight into the gutter with how badly dumbstruck he would get in her presence. Never one to hesitate when it came to throwing someone under the bus—figuratively or literally—Finnick thumbed over at Nick with his right paw. I've heard stories of foxes who went to get waffles and ended up with their faces put in the iron when it was hot.

The petite vulpine nodded his head. Back then, those Herbivores were crazy and the law let 'em be! Twitching a bit, the Hispanic vixen sighed as she got a nasty feeling one of Bentley's photos she'd yet to look at was an instance of just that. Shaking her head, the woman looked at the tinfoil wrapped items on the small table that jutted up between the pair of male foxes from the base of where they sat in the window space of the breakfast nook.

The canid conman shook his head, pleased he could be honest with his fellow red fox. The eggs are delicious! The vixen with brownish-orange fur blinked her eyes at how the tie-adorned vulpine praised them.

He used milk while he scrambled them in the skillet! Made them all light and airy! The eggs taste absolutely divine! Nodding her head, the navy blue-tressed vixen leaned in and took hold of one of the foil-wrapped breakfast burritos. Tearing open the aluminum, she brought one end of the sandwich to mouth and opened wide before clamping her jaws down with a firm bite. Carmelita's chocolate-colored eyes widened in shock at the onslaught of flavor that assaulted her taste-buds.

That was one thing she had to give Zootopia. A lot of the attitudes may have been rather tasteless but the culinary skill of some of these mammals was absolutely masterful! She thought only Paris had chefs that could coax tastes and textures out of food to this level!

Finnick stared at her for a moment before shook shaking his head. It just wasn't fair that someone who was that sexy could also be that cute!

A large smile blossomed on the pawpsicle hustler's face as he saw the woman enjoy her meal. I take it I'm forgiven for disturbing your shower? He had yet to see a vixen anywhere near as busty as Carmelita and frankly, every little sight was a Godsend that made life a worth living just a little bit more. Her chewing coming to an immediate stop, the policewoman gave him a dirty look. Swallowing her mouthful of breakfast burrito, the Hispanic vixen firmly answered, "Get a buzzer installed by the bathroom so that it doesn't happen again and I might think about it.

I'll take whatever forgiveness I can get," Nick replied, knowing it was easier to beg forgiveness than ask for permission. With a way to appease the woman at hand, the vulpine turned his attention back to more pressing matters: With his bagel sandwich in hand, he began wolfing it down, despite being a fox.

Smacking his lips, the red fox took a moment to lick his fingers of the sweetness that glistened on them; his sandwich also had a dash of maple syrup to it. I might just become a regular. Carmelita nodded as she took another bite. Now if you gentlemen will excuse me, I need to try and dry off a bit more before I get dressed. As the pair watched her head out of the kitchen and off into further the building, the fennec rolled his burnt orange eyes. As the small guy continued to gaze at him with that half-lidded stare of his, the taller canid offered, "I mean, if you found her first, maybe she'd be more inclined to thank you.

When it comes down to it, I don't need any sympathy or gratitude. I got Cherry and she's more than enough sweetness in my life. I could tell the two of you had at least a little something going It didn't help that the eldest of the Arctic vixen trio was a Psychotherapy Major. Girl was always trying to, 'fix' him. The male fox's ears flattened back at the memories of his first ex. They had known each other back when they were kids, only for things to fall apart when the vixen let him know SHE preferred vixens as well!

Really, considering how much of a tomboy she was, Nick should have seen it coming. But the desert fox wasn't done yet. And there was Krystal She was just feeling blue; couldn't get over her first boyfriend Okay, the little shit had a point there. He could have done better to keep the relationship going He smirked as he saw his partner lower his head.

As the dread at his failed relationships continued to build, Wilde felt as though he was about to be the one that did the threatening if the little shit kept this up. Raising his head, the taller of the two foxes opened his mouth, about to argue with him. But then the little prick hit home. Lowering his head, Nick sighed. He had no words for that one. He had screwed it up big time. Who," the smaller vulpine continued.

Turning his head to look at the smaller guy, the taller vulpine queried, "This is your vengeance for waking you up at four am, wasn't it? Letting off a noise that was a mix between the laugh and a snort, the desert fox replied, "Nah! Not at all, Wilde! I'm just still amused by the fact that you're so bad in the sack that not only did you go through ladies like most people do tissues but that you could be bad enough to turn someone into a lesbian!

The red fox glared at his smaller compatriot. Crossing his arms over his chest, Finnick replied, "Yeah, right! We both know you won't, Wilde. Please know I do appreciate your time and effort in helping me get settled here. Not one to let someone know they were getting one in on him, Nick calmly waved her off in a welcoming fashion. It's why I hired myself out to you in the first place," he reminded her with a pleasant tone. However, that didn't mean the desert fox wasn't going to pass up the chance to get a dig in, especially since this conversation almost got them caught.

You do whatever she asks and she pays you, just how is that not whoring yourself out to her? Crossing his arms over his chest, the male vulpine settled his emerald eyes down on his petite partner. I would prefer the term, 'gigolo' if I had to accept a designation under such circumstances. Nodding his head, Finnick chirruped, "Manwhore it is then. Now get to working for her, Bottom Bitch! You got money to make for your daddy!

Watching the back-and-forth between the pair for a little bit, the woman had to blink her eyes once, twice, thrice. Both male foxes turned to look at the vixen as one, before replying in sync, "We're heterosexual business partners. To have such a practiced response ready at the drop of a hat made it apparent to the policewoman such was a statement along the lines of something the two got asked quite often.

Seeing the woman was genuinely apologetic about that took a lot of the steam out of the tiny vulpine's annoyance. Heck, Cherry thought I went both ways when we first started dating," Finnick muttered, deciding to not bring up that Cherry had, on more than one occasion, hinted at having a threesome with him and Nick Thankfully he shot that idea down REAL quick!

I blame all those friggin' Modern Literature classes she took in college , the fennec thought with annoyance. They really filled that girl's head with kinky ideas!

Darn books about emo bats warring with needy wolves over bland pre-teen does and others about the various colors of gray He surmised there couldn't be more than a dozen shades of gray. Nodding her head in understanding, the vixen replied, "I'm still thankful for your hard work. Taking a deep breath, she looked back and forth between the pair of male vulpines. Then I'll return with your cash and we can get going.

I don't want to be late. Smiling, the taller of the two male foxes nodded his head. You go get yourself suited up to kick ass and chew bubblegum while my pal and I finish cleaning up here. Blinking her eyes, the woman looked down at the table of the breakfast nook, noticing the two empty Styrofoam cups.

Snarlbucks is real coffee," the desert fox explained before narrowing his eyes, making himself look rather fearsome despite his less than impressive three-foot stature. Medium cups were NOT grand unless they were sized for elephants! Noticing the unleashed ire that was stirring in his partner's head, Nick merely shook his own in exasperation. Carmelita nodded her head as she told the pair, "Be that as it may, do what you need to.

I'll be right back. When he heard the door close, Nick let off a wistful sigh. Rolling his eyes, the fennec let off a sigh. He wasn't a fan of that nickname either. Still, Widle had a point. A small smile curled at the corners of the red fox's mouth. Shrugging his shoulders, the taller of the two vulpines answered in turn, "Maybe.

But that's because you're a bit of a sourpuss. You need her sweetness to get a bit of tartness in your life. He blinked his eyes once, twice. Nick sighed at that. Giving a nod of his head firm enough that it made his large ears bob, the desert fox had to admit, "You got it in one, Wilde. He made a little jump before tossing the small ball of refuse towards it. The crumbled mostly-aluminum ball hit the rim before bouncing in, making the tiny vulpine cheer, "Three points!

Scoffing, the taller fox quickly argued, "No way! It clearly bounced off the rim. Turning to stare at his partner-in-scamming, the petite vulpine declared, "From this distance! It's easily three points! Crossing his arms over his chest, the taller of the pair of predators shook his head. They state it has to go straight in," Wilde countered, getting a huff from Finnick. Again, the Latina vixen was treated to the sight of the male foxes turning towards her and speaking in unison, "We're heterosexual business partners.

That earned a snort for the woman as she shook her head, causing her hair to wave with the motion. It was still slightly wet but a lot of its volume returned as it got dryer. I believe you said something about getting us some coffee before dropping me off. Instead, they were honing in on the large and rather boxy red weapon holstered on her right hip.

Raising her head back up, the vixen replied, "I'm going on duty, so of course it's loaded. You never know when you'll need it. The male fox continued to look down at it before he took a deep breath and then began exhaling slowly. Sure," he said in understanding. It was one thing to have seen that weapon in its case the other day. To see it primed and ready was a whole other experience. But shock pistols are a whole different kettle of fish.

Rolling her light brown eyes, the vulpine woman sighed. Right now, we do need to get going. I have to get to the ZPD on time!

So either skip or your coffee run or we leave now! Looking down on the masses gathered in the station from the safety of the second floor, Chief Bogo let off a sigh, causing his already impressive muscular chest to expand and deflate immensely. The lobby was full of mammals, leaving little to no room for movement; the place packed!

A chuckle reverberated in the maned feline's own broad chest. He tapped the bud once, then twice with his index finger.

Nodding his head, the lion gruffed out, "Wonderful! Having the ability to take advantage of cues and corrections live was important. As the Mayor played with his ear-piece, Bogo shook his head. Something about all of this was bothering him. Namely the fact that Officer Montoya had, apparently, tried to check in with the condo but due to some sort of misunderstanding, was booted out.

That reminds me, I need to have a talk with that manager sometime , the Police Chief thought to himself. Straightening himself up, the African buffalo then told his fellow mammal, "Mayor Lionheart, I still feel this is a terribly bad idea. We should have taken a moment to at least vet her ourselves, first. Make sure she knows how to publicly speak! Turning his attention to the herbivore to his left, the proud feline queried, "Is she or is she not a proud and decorated member of Interpol?

Again, the large pret mammal nodded his head. We got her signatures on file and he swore up and down it was her," the horned bovidae replied before furrowing his thick eyebrows at the Mayor. If you're going to remain in office, you best be nice to the boys in blue. Benjamin is well-liked around here. The opinionated leonine politician snorted. The least you could do is trust me to have the best interests of the city in mind! The nostrils on the African buffalo's snout flared in response as he let off a loud snort of his own.

Therefore, this is merely a completely altruistic campaign on my part to help the needy and disenfranchised mammals of the city and can't be proven otherwise!

As the predator politician's rhetoric grated on his nerves, Bogo took a deep breath to calm himself down. A chuckle reverberated in the suited mammal's throat.

We'll be the first to put a sheep or some other meek prey mammal into space! Rolling his eyes, the burly slab of beef decided to get off this topic that was the leonine politican's enthusiastic self-aggrandizement my asking, "Speaking of sheep, where is Assistant Mayor Bellwether? Opening his mouth to give an answer He blinked his eyes as he thought about it. Did I accidentally leave her behind today, leave her under a stack of books, or did I have her run out and get me coffee?

Standing beside a stretch of long and lonely road by a rusty bus stop sign, a poor petite sheep looked back and forth in either direction of the impressive expanse of asphalt. Bringing her left hand up to the side of her head, she adjusted how her glasses were settled on her face to make sure she got the best focus out of them.

This was the agreed location and time that Mayor Lionheart said he was going to have a chauffer pick her up. She'd been in Bunnyburrow for a week and all she wanted to do was get home and kick her feet up Mostly because she wanted to make sure SHE was in the best shape when she gave him the bad news. Hopefully the little bunny could make it through the rigors of the Zootopia Police Academy. Lowering her head, she let off a depressed sigh. Shrugging his shoulders, Leodore scoffed, "Bah!

It's not all that important! I'm sure she'll show up eventually! You wish to open this up, Bogo or shall I? It's up to you to take the center ring of this three ring circus and make it work.

The mayor clapped his hands together. He chortled at such luck before turning his gaze towards the city's police commissioner and smiled.

Considering that for a moment, the horned herbivore smiled. I wish you everything you have coming," the ebony-skinned bovidae replied in all honesty in a calm and gentle tone that belied the true and devious intent of said words. The back-handed compliment went over the Lion's head. Making his way towards the closest staircase, he descended it as elegantly and graceful as his feline nature allowed him to.

His head held high with perfect poise as he heard the sounds of cameras going off along with the flashes of light that managed to shine in his field of vision. It was never a bad idea to take every opportunity one could for a photo-op. And best to make sure they get my good side , he thought with a bit of mirth as he reached the bottom of the staircase. Mammals tried to get in close, to get the lion to speak about the reason of the conference before it was time but he held his lips firmly shut with a handsome smile, taking comfort in the officers on the ground floor who worked to hold back the press and help him make way to the stage that had been sent up at the left corner of the police station's reception area.

Again, more flashes of light went off as the man strutted as if he owned the place. Eventually, he reached the steps at the right of the stage and made his way up before to stand on the platform before heading to take his place behind the desk that had been set up for him central on the raised surface. Looking over the podium, Lionheart smiled. There were so many professional mammals of the media today for this press release.

It seemed every channel he reached out to with the offer, in turn acted in kind and had sent some form of representation to his conference.

It was a perfect turnout to help spread that news that would ensure him victory at the next election. His eyes darted to the clock, awaiting for the hours hand to reach the eight. He would start neither before nor after but on the mark. Punctuality was a sigh of professionalism! When it did, the large feline brought his paws down atop the podium, being careful not to disturb any of the microphones there.

I want to first take a moment to personally thank you for gathering here at ZPD's Precinct One at Savanna Central, because today is history! Now for those who may not be in the know, particularly any audience on a national or even global level, allow me a moment to introduce myself I know I am blessed to have managed to reach such a lofty position thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of my own blood, sweat, and tears The citizens see that a predator can successfully hold down office and demand that we give others the best opportunities as well.

And I am happy to say, I am proud to deliver. The leonine politician allowed the reporters to murmur amongst themselves before he continued. I am pleased to announce today, we begin honoring that promise with the Mammal Inclusion Initiative.

Got them eating out of my paw , he thought with delight before speaking aloud once more. It will ensure equality among predator and prey citizens alike in the job market. In particular, this policy will give a much-needed leg-up the members of Zootopian society who have long-since been disadvantaged, whether historically or even currently! These poor mammals have been handed lemons for so long without being able to make lemonade! Well, it's high-time we make life take those lemons back!

Today, we get mad and demand to see life's manager! We make life rue the day it thought it could give these poor oppressed predators and innocent, innocuous prey lemons! Today we burn life's house down! I was still able to fit into my clothes and could hide the growing bulge in my abdomen. I was constantly nauseous but not vomiting , cringed at the smell of grilled chicken and craved watermelon, but that was it.

I was worried how people would react once they found out. My identity as an independent, ambitious, active person would be beside-the-point to the twins. I wondered if my friends and family would also dismiss the pre-kid me in the same way. I let Sam carry my suitcase and sent him up the rickety stairs of every cathedral to take pictures from their domes while I stayed below in the shade, a bottle of water between my knees. He hiked while I sat under an umbrella at the beach. And in the early evenings, before dinner, when Sam went out to explore, I napped or read in our hotel room.

I hated not being able to move far or fast. There, I discovered the one physical activity I could enjoy: Our last morning on the coast, I sat on a jetty that cut into the blue-green sea and dipped my feet in the cool water. I can still hear the waves, with their persistent rhythm, breaking against the shore, filling the space between the rocks and making their retreat. The journey from the Cinque Terre to our next stop, Siena, was about three hours by car.

Our rental car was only slightly larger than a golf cart and not nearly as comfortable: Making things worse, the waist on my shorts was starting to cut into my stomach, even with the button undone. I was already hot and grumpy when I read this sentence from our guidebook aloud to Sam: Unfortunately the guidebook was right: Once we entered the city limits, it took us another three hours to find our hotel. As we drove in circles, I told Sam that the map was fucking useless, that I hated this stupid fucking vacation.

I twice ran out of the car on the side of the road, heaving and kicking at the dirt like a toddler throwing a tantrum. By the time we checked into our hotel, I was bleeding again. Sam was exasperated and went out for a walk. I took a bath. Our hotel was a one-hundred year old villa once owned by Sienese aristocrats, and the heavy wooden shutters in our room opened up above the patio that overlooked the picture-perfect Tuscan countryside: I could see patches of the late afternoon blue sky from the bathtub.

I cupped the warm water over my growing belly, rubbing it with both hands, back and forth, coaxing calm as I looked at my toes peeking out at the far end of the tub. My iPhone, sitting on the ledge of the antique marble sink, played Bon Iver. I was overwhelmed by waves of anxiety, the selfish but real fear of losing myself, of never again being my own person. A few tears dripped off my cheeks into the water, as I began to plead with my uterus, the organ that had been defiant for so long, and the tiny beings inside.

I promised to keep them safe. To be more gentle with myself. To be vulnerable, finally, to the reality of becoming a mother and all the change that would bring. As the sun dipped lower on the horizon, the bubbles lost their fizzle and the water cooled. I could see how my body was changing as new life took root. Or that my body would stretch to an unfathomable size to accommodate theirs.

Or that the toughness required to run a marathon is nothing compared to the toughness needed in labor, and to survive the ragged first year of new life. The pride in looking at their tiny features and seeing my own in miniature. The things I used to worry about do seem frivolous in comparison to the relentlessness of motherhood. But I now know that is the natural order of things, even as I sometimes miss the body and life that were once mine alone. Cloe Axelson lives with her family just outside of Boston.

I feel hopeful the next decade will teach us all valuable lessons about support, community, adoption, love, fear, trust, and truth. I pulled down my award-winning adoption blog. I removed myself from all online forums and listservs.

I even cold turkey stopped attending an in-person adoption support group, which I had been helpful in creating and sustaining. I walked away without looking back. I so badly wanted to be understood in those early days after placing my daughter. I wanted to talk to people who knew the deep hole ripped within my being. I turned to online groups first, my inner introvert and the area in which I live not leaving me other options. At one point, a woman took pictures of my daughter and placed anti-adoption rhetoric on them.

They called me bitter and angry when I questioned unethical laws. Instead of offering solace when I grieved the loss of my daughter in my life, they lashed out and told me to quit complaining; I chose this, after all. We talk so much about the mommy-wars, about breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding, but no one was talking about the parent-on-parent hate so prevalent in the adoption world.

No one wanted to discuss how to fix the problem as nobody wanted to own up to their own participation in the hate. I knew many parents who gave up long before I did, their adoption relationships paying the price.

I shared less and less of my adoption-related life online, instead choosing to help local women start a face-to-face support group for birth parents. My hopes of being heard and, most importantly, respected soon shattered on the floor of a coffee house basement when another mother yelled at me and stormed out for sharing my truth.

Other times I struggle with the overwhelming reality of loss, most often when my younger, parented children express their own feelings of grieving her lack of daily presence in our lives.

I turned inward, sharing and seeking comfort in only those closest to me. I turned to those trusted few each time her birthday month rolled around; I struggle the most around her birthday. I found a new therapist who also helped me understand some of the bigger picture of my adoption journey.

Together we focus on what I need at any given time rather than engaging in a combative back-and-forth as to who has it worse. Instead, I isolated both of us from bigger healing. For the most part, the tentative return feels a bit like the first ocean swim after a winter spent indoors.

The warmth of the larger community, even beyond just those specifically touched by adoption, is what drew me in over a decade ago. As I find my footing again in what I share online about adoption and how it touches me and affects my family, I feel grateful for the lessons I learned before, the space I gave myself, and for the open arms of the online community.

Jenna Hatfield lives in Ohio with her husband, two sons, and crazy dog. They are so much of why you are back on your feet, of how you are able to continue moving through life.

Great friends are thrilled for you when you go from the least likely of the bunch to settle down to all-out smitten and engaged in the span of fifteen months. They are thus super impressed when you adopt a dog, buy your first house, and decide to actually apply for graduate school. Also included is an offer to make more. They fly a thousand miles to help you survive school and take care of your family like their own, and then accept it despite their effort when you leave school a few weeks later when your husband can no longer safely stay home alone.

No matter how inopportune the timing, they meet you at the local emergency department every time. After the oncologist tells you there is nothing left to be done, they fill the house with visitors and love. After the hospice nurse says hours to days, they stand at your side until family arrives; they hold his hand and say goodbye; they put Patty Griffin on in the background, every album repeating; they shake their heads right alongside you in disbelief that this is actually happening.

They meet you at the funeral home to fill out the cremation paperwork and tentatively look at urns. When he dies, they shower the world with tributes of his good spirit, love for teaching everyone about the woods, and how much confidence, humor, and knowledge he brought to their lives. When you turn 30 just over two months after his death, they take you out to a coastal town for dinner and drinks and the comforting smells of diesel fuel and the sea.

They hike 12 emotionally and physically grueling miles with you up your mountain to spread his ashes where they need to be; at the summit they all dip their hands and join you in setting him free.

When you return to nursing school that fall, they are there to support you through and through; when you find that you are miserable and leave the program six months later, all they want is for you to be happy. Your life is what it is in great part because of these friends, these friends who kept you afloat through the best and worst years of your life, through thick and thin, through marriage, birth, death, and life again.

Oftentimes, especially early in the morning with your first cup of coffee, you wonder where you would be without your friends. You breathe deeply, slowly, gratefully for all they have done, all they have sacrificed and loved. Sarah Kilch Gaffney lives in rural Maine with her daughter. Read more from Sarah at: Tonight, a snowy-mix fills the Michigan spring night, and Mom mentions you to me in a moment of spontaneous reminiscing, the kind she has too frequently these days.

Frye revived his body three times, you know. He decided that was enough. I always had to hope he was right. I, too, notice the smudges and streaks clouding our view of the sturdy maple and the precocious squirrels racing around it. I list all the ways someone I never met has marked my life. I would have missed Coming Home days, which were, as I smugly told the kids at school, way better than birthdays. My birthday featured all the traditional trappings of cake, parties, and gifts. My Coming Home Day, January 28 included indulgent after-Christmas bargain shopping for more presents, and permission to gorge myself on macaroni and cheese and Chicken in a Biscuit crackers until I almost puked.

One year, I forced my brother to sit next to me while we went to see Dalmatians, just because it was my day. Mom never forgot your birthday, but it was marked by screams, tears and, occasionally , broken dishes, not wrapping paper and bows.

What do you expect? What did I expect? Our mother was the only one in my family who even spoke of you. Hundreds of photos of camping trips, hunting trips, fishing trips still exist, but not one photo of Mom pregnant with you — as if that might have been some sort of jinx.

At 21, I was rushed to the hospital after being pummeled to the pavement by a sedan. They had lost one child, but they were not going to lose me. You were the one God sent us because you were just what we needed, Dad scribbled on a card to me once. You told us that before you came to live with us you were walking around in the woods with Jesus, my mom would remind me, shaking her head in amazement.

Tonight, I press Mom for details about your life. One way I can honor you both is to find out the history of your life. Frye actually forbid Mom to become pregnant.

Her high blood pressure and high risk of eclampsia made her a poor risk. The two of you made it only to twenty-four weeks. Mom never saw your face. She never forgave them. Arms empty, Mom refused to sign a consent to have her tubes tied. Did I mention Mom was — and is — a stubborn woman? I allow myself to dwell on one final connection you and I have.

Someday I will likely be buried in a plot next to yours. Kris Rasmussen is an educator, playwright, and freelance writer living in Michigan. She was a contributing editor for the multi-faith website Beliefnet for several years.

In addition, her dramatic work has been by produced by the Forward Theater Company in Madison, Wisconsin and published by Lillenas Drama. You can follow her on twitter krisras63 or visit her website at www.

My father did not tell anyone completely about his psychic scars. He did, however, let my mom, sister, and I ogle, occasionally, on his physical ones. Taking off his expensive, leather shoes, he would, very rarely, let us peek the roped mass of roiling purple and magenta skin at the knuckle of his big toe, where, crushing grapes at a POW camp shortly after WWII broke out, he had plunged the pitchfork.

The toe bent off crookedly to the left and the nail was gone. The joke in the family was not to drink Bordeaux. He also would hand me the shrapnel shards that would, once in a blue moon, poke out from his thighs, a result of a bomb that he had tripped while he interrogated Nazis as a German-speaking US Army officer. He was imprisoned three times and got out three times. He was tortured in a Nazi border patrol. For meals, he only had lard. He minded that the meat was barely edible and, subsequently could not even look at bacon without going quiet looking off into an invisible space.

From the border patrol, he escaped and made it to Prague, where he lived until the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia as well. He stuck his foot with a pitchfork to get out of a French labor camp and onto a French navy steamship that would take him to New York, the white lines of blood poisoning creeping up his leg.

He liked to tell these stories. The stories were a series of lucky breaks: He presented himself as the luckiest man alive. My dad lost both his parents in the Holocaust. He saw them for the last time, taking an illegal detour back into Austria on a night train, on his way to Le Havre from Prague. He never mentioned his mother at all. I remember maybe once or twice and always in an almost whisper.

I have many of his inquiries with inquiries to Austria, Germany, and Poland as he tried, over the course of decades, to find out what happened to them. They are written in an oily tone in long, German sentences with long nouns.

I have the letters back with conflicting information from each of the embassies and the American Red Cross. This story about how his trauma affected his being my dad starts in the winter of Kritz, my first grade teacher, told me she liked my poems about rain. The poems were stapled together between two pieces of blue construction paper.

I spoke English then with a vaguely Dutch accent because we had spent the previous year in Holland. Back in New York, I went to school a few weeks and then got strep throat. I was at home, burning with fever. My parents were at the university teaching.

That morning, my mother had called my new babysitter, an Israeli modern dancer, whose bones poked up, fragile like bird wings, through her translucent skin. She had skipped her rigorous training to come in on a weekday last minute because she needed the income. But she had run out of ideas for games we could play and I had spent the afternoon trying to read in English on the sofa under a blanket. At some point, I got up to wander the large apartment, which still felt foreign after the year away.

I sat at his walnut desk diagonal to the typewriter. I fingered the leather encased stapler and the clear dome that held in its perfect bubble one refillable green ink pen and one refillable pencil, both silver. Green ink had stained the small hole in the plastic where the pen stuck out.

I found a lined notebook and removed the pen. I started to write my new book, the ink silkily spilling over onto the off-white paper. I planned to show Ms. I heard the measured footsteps of leather sole heavily treading the throw rugs as my father came down the orange hallway.

I should have known. The dog had this routine down so well that, lounging in the hallway, she would pull herself even before the elevator doors opened in the outside hallway with its black and white hexagonal tiles. And, suddenly, he was filling the doorway. When he saw me, it took him a moment for him to register a small child was at his desk, that this child was his own, and had broken the biggest rule in the house: That I had entered the study and used his pen—the only pen he used, ever—and that his green ink was spilling out over the pages, was unthinkable.

Small things tripped torrents of anxiety, whereas the things that make most people fearful did not seem to phase him at all. Yet, he was immune from fears of his mortality. He drove, for example, fearlessly, without concern for any of our welfare.

He would recline in the seat, drive with one hand, gesturing with the other. He would often hold court in the car, lecturing about books or politics, and look over at us, in conversation, for many beats too long. When I was seven or eight, there was a fire in the building directly opposite our apartment.

It happened in the middle of the night. My mother awoke to the smell of smoke then ran through the U-shaped apartment to my room. She shook me awake and I gathered important things as I had read people do in books. It was only minutes later that the super came up and pounded on the door to tell us to evacuate. It took my father an agonizing twenty minutes to dress in his habitual attire of a three-piece suit complete with tie, belt and garter socks.

My mother and I stood in the hallway waiting for him, my arms full of thirteen stuffed animals and Noodles, the guinea pig, who dug her claws into my forearm. A year or so later, we were in Athens, Greece at an outdoor table eating salad and whole grilled fish from the center of the table. I was nine, alone with my parents on a trip, and prone to bouts of dizzying boredom if I was not allowed to read my Trixie Belden books, which was another rule: Never Read at a Restaurant Table.

We lingered at the table after eating, listening to the old men chattering in Greek around us. I asked my father if I could please borrow his pen to draw. He took it out of his suit pocket and gave it to me. I doodled absent-mindedly on the bill. Back at the cramped hotel room, my father asked for his silver pen back. He sent me outside to return to the restaurant, but the loud, beefy owner could not find it.

I was not afraid, like most children, of the dark, bugs, ghosts or monsters. I explored the old train tracks under the West Side Highway and peered at the cardboard slum cities in the tunnels. I spoke fearlessly with strangers and felt the safest on an airplane high in the sky above an ocean.

Instead I feared bank tellers and police officers, authority figures, the mysterious systems that sent the mail. After learning that the Noble laureate in Physics, who happened to have emigrated from Maoist China, lived a few a few floors above us, I slept with one eye open.

He sometimes left or returned to the building in a motorcade of limousines. This left me deeply suspicious of adults generally. I was concerned to learn that a physicist had been the first to successfully split the uranium atom under the green copper turrets of Pupin Hall at Columbia across the street. I went to a high school with a dappled quad in which one could sit between classes and read.

I adored high school. In European History, Mrs. Bernstein taught us about March 12 th , , when Hitler marching into the Heldenplatz to the cheers of hundreds of thousands of cheering Viennese. She spoke in a measured cadence and always in complete sentences. She allowed us to think deeply about history. At some point, after reading an essay I had written, she had taken me aside in the hallway and asked me if I was a native English speaker.

You put the ideas at the end of the sentences. The syntax is just slightly different from English syntax. It was her way of telling me that she was sensitive to the impact it had on me. We are still friends to this day. In class, we peered at photos in our dense textbooks. One showed Hitler, a diminutive terror, surrounded by Imperial buildings of the Austro-Hungarian nobility, high above the swarms. Did you see him on the streets?

I was curious—morbidly—if he had actually seen Hitler himself. He was furious with me. The University of Vienna, where my dad was going to pre-medical school, expelled its Jewish students. The family had to move to the poorer section of town. My dad was sent to live in Prague, at which point he was captured and hence the lard episode.

But weeks later, he was able to get out from the border office, and later, to America. My aunt was sent away with other children on the kindertransport to England. Sometime later my grandparents were rounded up to the ghetto. In one of the first deportations that signaled the Final Solution after the Wannsee Conference, they were sent to their deaths in what turns out to have been the very first extermination camp.

When my father spoke of this time, it was in the present tense or maybe that was still a trace of his German syntax. When it came time for the Holocaust Remembrance day, students filed in quietly to the auditorium to hear a survivor speak in somber tones about his experiences.

I am sure many of my friends wept. I fled to the bathroom and stuffed paper towels in my mouth while my body wracked itself in panic. The conversation about what happened to his parents took place mostly in my head, although from time to time I would interview him about my grandparents.

He told me that they first refused. He said that he was only offered one affidavit, for one individual, not two, so how do you choose? In a photo book I found on the highest shelf of one bookcase in our book-lined apartment, I found and then spoke to my grandmother.

In the sepia photo she peered out a zaftig woman with sad, almond eyes and tendrils escaping across her temples. She draped one hand on a baby bassinet, with my aunt as a bonneted, moon-faced baby staring out placidly. Another hand rested on the shoulder of my father, a little boy in short woolen trousers, high socks, with a bowl and scarf bowtie. Standing on tiptoe, I put the photo book away before he caught me with them. At some point, he jumped up and left. It could have been when Sophie, on line in a crowd of deportees, must make the awful choice between her two children.

But I think it was much earlier, perhaps when it becomes clear that Nathan is both obsessed with the Holocaust and mentally ill. People in the audience swiveled. More people turned in their seats to look as light from the lobby momentarily flooded the theater.

The fall after graduating from high school, I lived in a brownstone with three Columbia friends on the first floor of a dilapidated brownstone in Brooklyn. Walking the air-conditioned white hallways of the museum, I was awed by the heavily worked massive grey and brown canvases. Their impasto surfaces were scarified with grids and lines in paint that climbed to cathedral ceilings describing warehouses, barracks, and imperial buildings—vast and claustrophobic both.

Some paintings showed fields and earth strewn with hay or ashy powder and scarred with metal. In a packed deli between Fifth and Sixth, he sat sullenly reading the menu. I recently found the ship manifest of the DeGrasse, the steampship on which he secured passage, on November 10, , from Le Havre to New York in the digital archives at Ellis Island. The list is one thousand names long and takes up several pages. I can see him making sure to be first on line. He did the same on lines throughout his life.

People often just let him cut the line, as if sensing he could not psychologically wait in line. For him, his nationality was marked German, the place of visa, Prague, his profession, electrician, his destination, the address of the unknown sponsor whose name and contact his high school history teacher had given him. My dad had told us that he had twenty dollars when he left Le Havre. I had somehow assumed that it was a small exaggeration.

How could someone have so little money? I routinely spent his twenty-dollar bills going downtown to buy candy at the Citicorp with my friends. But it turns out that was exactly what he had in his pocket. He was never an electrician, of course. I laughed at that one. He would have made a very bad electrician. There are three columns for which the answers are almost every one of the thousand on the list.

When I first saw the towers come down on the news on the morning of September 11, I was, like most people seized with a cold panic, and, immediately, I thought of the many people I knew who very well might have been on one of the planes or in one of the buildings that morning. I felt across the hundreds of miles and decades of time the sting of the humiliation he felt as a young man.

For the first time, I saw my dad as terribly alone in his experience at the hands of the Nazis and facing genocide so intimately. An act of war in New York, his island of safety, all those years ago, was too difficult to even imagine him processing at his age.

At first the phone lines were down, and I kept trying until I got through. I brought it up carefully and he went quiet and changed the subject. It was after that, his heart and lungs weakened. The cardiologist said that his lungs had expanded and, actually, pushed up against the wall of the rib cage. Shortly after that, he went into the hospital. I booked the earliest flight I could. My sister, who was in Amsterdam, had taken the overnight flight. Each of us took a cab to hospital.

And, within an hour, my sister, my mother, and I were all there. It was rare for us three to be together. But there we were, his existential people, gathered around him, or was it still him, in his ICU room, the screens bleeping, a machine sending rumbling and artificial inhales and exhales of oxygen through his body? And then we said goodbye to him and we were the ones left with this hole in our lives.

Reva Blau-Parlante juggles teaching middle-school, raising two kids, and writing non-fiction with the support of her partner in life Joe and perhaps too much espresso with lemon. It happens in a flash, my two-year-old releases my hand and dashes off into a crowd. I chase after her, glancing only once over my shoulder to make sure my mother-in-law has the stroller, which contains, among other things, my wallet and phone.

My daughter is heading toward the stairs that descend in front of the sea lion tank. I grasp her hand just before reaches them. The aquarium is teeming with families with small children and summer campers dressed in matching T-shirts. Older kids play inside a giant whale-shaped bounce house, somersaulting onto a mat. A large interactive screen flashes with images of fish. She scoops her up and together they watch a sea lion break the surface of the water.

We leave the bustle of the main room and enter the corridor toward the first tank, where sea bass swim with giant loggerhead turtles.

As we walk through the cool, dim space, watching the rhythmic movement of the sea creatures, there is a sense of calm and peace. A sense, too, of confinement. It reminds me of the primordial waters of new motherhood. The turtle makes his way toward us, glancing ruefully with one shiny black eye, which seems to say, let me out , before swimming away, the heft of him both cumbersome and graceful. My daughter runs ahead to the next exhibit, a wide column of water cast in purple light. White moon jellies float up and down.

Music is playing and she searches for its source, as if the jellies themselves are emitting sound. I think of the amorphous days of lullabies, day sinking into night rising into day while I watched in wonderment, holding her pollywog form, the newborn body curled into itself. In the next room a wolf fish lies at the bottom of a tank, thick and grey with vacant eyes and glugging mouth, the ghost of sleep-deprivation and delirium.

The accompanying anxiety and nervous feeling that my baby, so fragile and new, was not quite of this world. The nights I wished for sleep. The days I willed her to become a little bigger, a little stronger. Newborn care consumed me. The constant rocking, singing, holding, was a world unto itself, both beautiful and fraught, where time seemed suspended and autonomy ceased to exist. I felt submerged, and sometimes longed to come up for air. Whole weeks would pass without having glanced in a mirror.

It was as if I were disappearing. Until I began to learn to breathe underwater. My identity became fluid, our connection borderless. Every time I looked for me, I found us. Now I am the wistful one. Easy to forget the anxiety and exhaustion, the tedium, the long hours alone.

We are inspecting an octopus when my daughter disappears. My eyes scan the groups of children and my mother-in-law runs ahead to the next room leaving me with the stroller. It is too many minutes before they finally reappear, before my daughter returns giggling with delight.

I hug her tightly, my heart racing, and remember the security of having her strapped to my body in her baby carrier. So different from the slippery toddler hurling headlong toward independence. We push through the aquarium doors into the thick summer air and bright sunshine, and follow the path to the butterfly exhibit. Flowering bushes fill the tent and myriad wings flutter all around us.

Butterflies alight on our arms and shoulders and heads. Here we are in the frenzied world of busyness and light. My daughter, overwhelmed, leaps into my arms. Together we name the different colors we see.

She rests her warm cheek against mine, and inside that moment, it is just us. I wish for the impossible: She lives in coastal Connecticut with her husband, daughter and two cats.

She is currently at work on a memoir. She blogs daily truths at https: It is a reflex and you cannot stop it. You watch him reach into his pocket, check to see who is calling, see that it is you, and decline the call.

You call him again. You can hear him scream this from the other side of the field a portion of a second after it comes through the phone. There is another battle for the ball and you involuntarily kick the air a third time, as if you are a frog on a dissection table in Bologna and Luigi Galvani is electrifying your muscles with a charged scalpel.

You cannot not kick. It reaches nearly one hundred degrees here in peak sun, and your naked neck broils like a steak while you watch twenty-two children burn a collective 6, calories. You must appear to be a good soccer mom, even though you fear you are not one. Your soccer mom status is cemented by a few other behaviors.

First, there is the belief that your daughter is an irreplaceable anchor—the star, if you will, even if only in your own eyes, on any given team. Or your son is the star. Or your stepson is.

You drive to windswept fields teeming with hundreds of other children, and plunk your ass in a folding chair while your children exercise, watching them with the same obsessive interest slower members of society have in reality TV shows. Sometimes you bring snacks. Next is the unhealthy obsession with outfitting your children like professional athletes. Sporty kids need gear, so if you are a regular person like me, you fork over whatever you can swing, handing down cleats and outgrown gloves and gear bags to your smaller children in the gear queue, occasionally shopping at Play It Again Sports in a neighboring town where no one you know will see you buying used sports equipment.

You forgo new clothes for yourself, or luxuries of any sort in order for these children to have the extra thick shin guards, or properly fitting Under Armor, even though you remember playing childhood softball and basketball in sneakers from K-Mart and cheap, silk-screened team t-shirts without any ill effects, except for the fact that you did not get a college sports scholarship.

You begin to believe that your children need this gear in order to have the athletic opportunity they deserve. As if a pair of cleats will be the thing that turns your child into a winner. Then there is the schedule juggling. If you are lucky, your child will not be on both the school team and the travel team of the same sport in a season, as that is a scheduling state so stressful that it has been known to cause mothers to develop trichotillomania.

You can easily spot these poor women: They looked pinched and backed up, because they have had to train their bowels to follow a certain schedule, as they have no time of their own to take a dump from seven am until midnight on weekdays or at any time during the weekend, especially if they still have preschoolers at home.

If you are like me, this herculean effort makes you cry at least once per season, or drink alone at night after everyone has gone to bed. Then there is the ill-lighted, miscast pride that comes with knowing that you birthed a remarkable athlete. This is the shameful part of soccer momming. It is heady stuff that can weaken the soul. You see your child twist in space in an artful way, and watch them outrun or out-think a competitor, and even though the competitor is a pony-tailed princess who sleeps with her own stuffed animal at night, your mind has reduced her to enemy status.

It came out of you. You are triumphing, by proxy, over a nine year-old child. Like kicking an invisible ball on the sidelines like an idiot, this suburban movement is a part of something that has its own tide, a tide that moves in and out with the seasons, a tide you feel yourself drowning in on occasion, because after all, you were the tattooed, boot-shod rebel who swore she would never live in the suburbs and drive a minivan, and yet you have ended up rocking that minivan hard and living in the burbiest of burbs, which frankly, bores you to tears, but is so, so safe and so good for the children.

You are the woman who swore you would stick your kids in daycare the moment your maternity leave was over so you could go back to building your career, but that plan scorched up like a dried leaf the moment your first child was placed in your arms. Others might tell you to check your privilege for complaining about such a luxury, but it is more confusing and complicated than simple middle class wealth. It is the battle between a loss of identity, and its crooked bookend: At times, especially during the middle of a given season, you may remember college, when you had the luxury to write short stories for fun and you wrote one about a married woman with kids who fakes her own death and uses a new identity to start over in the Pacific Northwest, a place that seems cool and woodsy and quiet, a far cry from standing in four inches of palm tree shade on the sidelines of a sports field, or your sour laundry room, or the inside of your sweat-soaked minivan.

This deficit requires you to occasionally dump your kid on the field and race to the grocery store, buy oranges, race home and cut them up, and bag them and bring them back to the field, often missing the first quarter of the game.

Or you forget to turn in the cookie dough or gift wrap fundraiser orders in, or worse, you forget to sell the cookie dough or gift wrap at all.

There are so many game days. Why do you suck so badly? Lest I appear to be one-sidedly bitter and negative, let me say this: It is a time when your children are as beautiful as they have ever been, though you thought nothing could be as beautiful as their babyhood. The flushed, salty cheeks, the hair sticking to the sweat on their necks, their knobby knees, bandaged fingers, their giant protective equipment that seems to dwarf them at the beginning of the season, but which look perfectly fitted by the last game.

The effort they give forth that makes you weep at times. If you are like me, you have cried while watching the two teams shake hands after a particularly difficult game.

Your children are doing important work, even though it looks like they are playing games. They are learning how to lose graciously, one of the most valuable of life skills, and if they have good coaches, they learn about devotion: This is a time when the children still need you to show them how to be. You are training two or three or four little people to grow up and be better versions of yourself, and this is one way to leave your mark on the world, one way to make a difference—to produce people who are consistently good to others despite personal obstacles, ones who will be decent to others despite having menstrual cramps, or being cut off in traffic, or feeling exhausted, or losing something important, like a big game, or a contract, or a job, or a friend.

You can see this growth transform them, sometimes from week to week. One day, you will see the coach introduce a skill and your child will fumble with it like a puppy, yet improve bit by bit, until one day during a game, when the pressure is on, you will see the child execute the thing perfectly, exactly the way she was taught.

If you are like me, the first time you realize that the effort you invest in making these activities happen is a finite thing, and that one day it will go away, it stops being a chore, and begins to be something precious, like oxygen. You watch them with a different eye while they repeat the same drills for weeks, running, jumping, getting knocked over, failing, laughing, weeping, building friendships, pushing their limits, and for a brief while, all things considered, there is no limit to the hope vested in these beautiful young people of yours.

In the days leading up to the big event, we received a letter from our sanitation service informing us that Bulk Item Pickup Day was just around the corner. My eyes widened at the news. Immediately, I take to the house to prioritize my junk. Which bulk item will I rid us of forever? The half-broken bookshelf seems a logical choice, as does the ancient rocking chair. Yet my preparation hardly spared me from my recurring nightmare, one in which, upon leaving the hospital with our son in tow, I found myself baffled by the tangle of harnesses stretched before me, all of which constricted and elongated in the precise opposite manner I wanted them to.

Four years removed from the real-life version of that drive home, I find myself staring at the crumb-caked seat—reflecting on the miles logged, the trips endured, the many journeys we took together. How many holidays had our children sat strapped in their seat as we drove through the rain and the snow in our efforts to spend some time with our families? And when, I wonder, did we use this seat for the last time?

As best as I recall, that seat has been gathering dust for months, the result of a car seat upgrade for my son, which in turn led to a second-hand seat upgrade for my daughter.

Since we have no third child—and there are no plans for one—we have no need for the third seat. And so, I sent it out to proverbial pasture read: Just some garbage that needs to go. That night, at around 3: I hear her scratching at the bed, signaling me to rise, groan, and begin my zombie walk toward the front door. I leash her, give her ample time to do her business, and as we turn back toward the house I spot the empty car seat aglow beneath the streetlamp.

The sentimental father in me is compelled to give it one last look, to run my hand over its plastic one last time just to remember the feel.

Hollars is a Brain, Child contributing blogger. He the author of several books, most recently From the Mouths of Dogs: He serves as the reviews editor for Pleiades, a mentor for Creative Nonfiction, and a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. My oldest daughter is fifteen and my youngest daughter is ten. I would rather have space on shelves than boxes crammed full of old memorabilia. Still, I thought that when the time came to finally get rid of the old stuffed animals and the old dollies and the old wooden dollhouse furniture, that I would feel sad and wind up storing all of it for that one-day-grandchild to enjoy.

There are so many ways I mourn the passing of time as my kids have aged. I miss the pudgy hands grabbing my cheeks and turning my face to force me to look them in the eye. I miss the giggles so easily brought out by a few tickles on the feet. I miss the goofy songs, the post bath slippery toddler streak shows. When my kids were two, I loved two.

When they were ten, I loved ten. When they were fifteen, I loved fifteen. Few houses have built in closets or storage spaces so unless we want boxes stacked like Legos in our living room, we have to make choices.

With each move, we have to consider, what is worth keeping? What would we regret tossing? What would we pay to actually ship to the US some day in the unknown future? So I downsize every time. And in typical American style, within no time at all, we manage to accumulate so much that I need to downsize again. Our most recent moved required first storing everything in a shipping container for six months while we housesat for another family.

So I started purging. We did keep some toys, for when families with little ones come over to visit and some to bring back to the US at whatever point we return. And we will always keep Legos and American Girl Doll treasures. But, my husband and I fought over the wooden dollhouse we bought in France when I was pregnant with our youngest. It is big and awkward to store, I said. It is precious and unique, he said.

He won and it balances on top of our two boxes of stored holiday items. I like to think that the ease with which I purge has to do with the positive character traits of simplicity and practicality. But, as I thought about it while rummaging through the toy bins and buckets of stuffed animals, I realized I was wrong. I had too high of an opinion of my emotional state and stability. The reason it was easy to throw or give away these particular toys was because my daughter had never really played with them.

She is a builder, a creator, a performer, and a people person. Legions of homemade items were scattered everywhere in her room, cardboard boxes turned into American Girl Doll Jeeps, broken pieces of tile from the swimming pool turned into a bathtub, paintings labeled with the names of her school friends.

My phone is full of videos of songs she wrote and performed, my computer has a file folder exclusively for the stories she types. Her walls are barely visible through the barrage of photos she has taped up, of all the friends she has loved in America, in Kenya, in Djibouti. These crafted things were much harder to throw away and some of them found their way into boxes and folders to keep. I look at the dollhouse my husband and I fought over and have another realization. He is just like me.

Our kids painted the walls of the dollhouse. They rearranged the interior, they marked it with their personalities. Turns out I am sentimental, only not for the items purchased as the consumer I am. Rachel Pieh Jones is a contributing blogger for Brain, Child. She lives in Djibouti with her husband and three children: A swath of springtime sun filtered through the curtains and bathed my mom in dust motes as she rocked back and forth in the chair.

Her yellow skin clung to her cheek bones, and she smiled. Every morning, she looked out to the gangly bushes with anticipation, and every morning their stubborn buds failed to burst.

She could barely get out of bed. Her skin was grayish now, and her cheeks were hollow. Not many people are comfortable with an obvious manifestation of death, and here death was, laying in a hospice bed waiting for lilacs and parties. Did we really want people in our house right now? Long afternoon shadows climbed through the window and the dust danced. Visitors poured through the door. The sound of jokes and laughter mixed seamlessly with quiet reminiscing and tears. Her wake was exactly how she had lived her life, filled with people and activity.

But instead of fluttering around, laughing and talking with her friends, mom slept on the hospice bed, breathing but unresponsive to the party that was happening in her honor. She was only 53 years old, but had made peace with her early demise. She had lived her bucket list and made amends. During the two years since her diagnosis, she had made the journey to God. She believed in Him and in angels. As we sat around her, each lost in our own thoughts, she suddenly sat up for the first time in days.

Her arms reached towards something we could not see. She frantically grabbed and clawed at the air around her. Was she afraid now that death was closing in? She moaned and reached towards the window. Mom slumped back in bed, defeated. The gentle spring rain splattered the window and eventually, she just stopped. The next morning, I awoke exhausted and red-eyed. I looked out the window and stared at the brilliant purple flowers that bounced lazily in the breeze.

The goddamn lilacs had bloomed. I threw my pillow at the window. Once my favorite flower, the lilacs were mean and ugly in the wake of my loss. The sounds of the NICU pierced my soul and a nurse elbowed me out of the way while she tried to convince my one-pound baby to breathe.

I slunk into the background and stared out the window wondering if my child would ever feel the sun on his skin or smell the lilac bloom. His tiny chest rose and fell with mechanical precision now; the ventilator was doing the work of living for him. His labored breathing… whoosh, wheesh …filled the room and I wished I had ear plugs. Even if my son lived, how would I raise him without my own mother to help?

His tiny foot kicked a tunnel through the wires and flailed into the air. My son was alive. This was not that rainy spring day where life lost.

This was a bright summer day where life was winning. Just yesterday, that same little boy bounced over to me, laughter bubbling from every inch of his healthy, strong body. The gold flecks in his gray eyes shone like the rays of sunshine that streamed through the window. His tornado-like entrance stirred up all the dust and the particles twirled. Mom was worried people would forget about her after she died.

But no one has forgotten, least of all me. The dust settled on the window sill and I ran my finger through the thin coating, leaving a lasting impression.

Butterflies danced in the springtime breeze and fluttered in and out of our view. Even though they disappeared from our sight, we knew they were still there. Her essays about motherhood, prematurity, and parenting a child with extra needs have been featured nationally. Summer camp had just begun and it was the first hot day of the year. The air outside looked wavy. I strapped my child into her car seat and kissed her chubby cheeks. Chelsea was impish and just shy of one-year.

On average, 37 children die forgotten in cars each year in the U. As a year-old stay at home mom of three in New Jersey, I felt constantly overwhelmed with tasks yet I never imagined I could forget my child.

We drove to pick up her older brother from day camp. The car was finally cooling from the air condition that circulated on high for the ten minutes it took us to get there.

My mind spilled over with an endless to do list. Camp pickup was a change to our normal routine. She was my last and I was done Ferberizing. With this child I savored the comfortable feeling of a pudgy little body cuddled up next to me while sleeping. The problem was that once I brought her into my bed, I never fell back into a deep sleep fearing that she could be smothered under the blankets.

I believed I could handle three children with little sleep. Good mothers raised offspring, bought groceries, cooked dinner and kept the house without assistance. I was proud that I could handle it all by myself. My cell phone rang in the car and it was my mom. She knew my life had been chaotic and my husband had been away for a few days on a work trip.

She was aware I needed help since my best sitter was no longer working for me. Her voice switched over to blue tooth and filled my car.

I glanced in the rearview to see if her tone was too loud for my Chelsea whose thighs folded over the straps at the meeting points of the car seat harness. I spied the rise and fall of her tummy underneath her flowery sundress. We arrived at camp a few minutes late. I cringed because I knew my son despised being the last kid left anywhere.

Watching the other moms walk with their kids swinging racquets on the way to their cars, I got out and locked the doors by remote. I rushed down the path to the camp.

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