At times like this, he had to admit he was a little confused. The world had a certain order to it: a logical, predictable pattern that one could and should duplicate as the days went by. This pattern was what made the world safe for Cedric. Safe. Yep! There was nothing like the safety of predictability. Now that he was the leader of his own people group, Cedric liked nothing better than knowing both how his world was being run, and then seeing it run the way he understood it was supposed to.
But this was not the order that Cedric had become used to. Without his permission, somebody had thrown a wrench into the fine machinery of his carefully understood understanding of the world. And now, because he was living in unacceptable chaos, it was clearly Cedric’s job – since no one else seemed to want it! – to make things right.
It all began when THE SISTER asked THE MOMMY to come back to her room to help her with her homework. That was the first problem. This was Cedric’s room. He was happy to share it with THE SISTER, and, if she asked him nicely, he would even condescend to share it with one of her friends, albeit grudgingly. After all, wasn’t one’s room his sanctuary? Wasn’t it his little island of personal peace? One might even go so far as to call it his cave of isolation from the problems of the world!!
Homework was not part of Cedric’s plans. Especially as it compromised the security of his room.
If there was one thing Cedric understood, it was the security detail. His people had clearly come to him, invited him to live in their home, and given him everything he needed (plus a few nice things that he did not technically need, but did end up enjoying anyway) simply because they needed a round-the-clock security guard to protect them and keep them safe. He was born to do this, he was humbled that they had so easily conferred all their confidence on him – although that wasn’t too hard to understand, considering that his sister-dog, Fluffy, was losing her touch in the security business – and he planned on doing the best job he possibly could.
When his people let him.
But THE SISTER was now violating the terms of their contract by inviting THE MOMMY into their sanctuary. To add insult to injury, THE SISTER was actually patting the bed that Cedric shared with his girl, inviting THE MOMMY to sit up there with her – instead of Cedric.
This was wrong on so many levels! First of all, this was the bed that Cedric had been sharing for over a year with his own girl. This bed did not belong to just anyone. Only Cedric and the girl had a right to sit on it, sleep on it, or even look at it. Everyone else was just trespassing, and, as everyone knows, trespassers were some of the people that security details like Cedric’s were hired to take care of and move out of the way.
In the second place, the girl also belonged to Cedric. He was not about to share her with anybody who came along, previous blood-ties notwithstanding. In the dog culture, those blood ties were often severed permanently after only a few weeks with THE MOTHER, and each of the pups had to form a new bond in a newly-formed pack. Now that Cedric had bonded with his girl, there was no need for THE MOMMY to come back into the middle of things and reaffirm her formerly-important connection or insinuate herself into a sanctuary that was not at all hers. If THE MOMMY wanted sanctuary, she had a much bigger one of her own, complete with water room and a room of doors, just down the hall. This sanctuary was already taken.
Finally, that bed was the most comfortable spot in the house. It was soft. It was gentle. He could sink really deep into it and feel all his muscles just relax in the most wonderful ways. It was kind of like floating on a comfortable cloud. Or what Cedric imagined floating on a comfortable cloud would be like. If floating on a cloud could be comfortable. Oh, it was just sooooo nice. He shouldn’t have to leave it, especially when it made him feel so good. That just wouldn’t be right!
But, again, THE SISTER was working against him. What in the world was she trying to do? he wondered. “Down, Cedric!” she was saying.
Confused, he blinked several times at her.
She wouldn’t give in. Usually he could cow her into submission by giving her THE LOOK: a cool combination of patient endurance and rock-solid-refusal-to-move. He tried it again now.
Nothing doing. She was bound and determined to have her own way. Cedric knew in his heart that he would end up having to move off the bed. At least temporarily. But he’d stay there as long as he could until that miserable moment – which loomed menacingly just over the horizon – arrived.
And here it was. “I’m not kidding, Cedric!” THE SISTER boomed. “This is not your bed.”
Not his bed? After their entire past year together? Poor Cedric could hardly believe his ears.
His formerly-well-behaved girl had now grabbed him by both his necklace and a tuft of loose skin along his backbone, and was tugging him relentlessly over to the edge of the bed.
Was there a way to make himself heavier? he wondered. Cedric found himself sinking just a little deeper into the comfortable depths of a mattress he had never wanted to leave. If he could have sewn himself into it permanently, he would have. So long as said comfy sewn-on mattress did not impede his ability to run freely through the house, jump onto furniture and the half-wall behind the couch in the front room, and still let him be able to clear the back fence in a single bound. Well now, come to think of it, maybe sewing himself into the mattress permanently wasn’t such a great idea.
Except for now. THE SISTER, having sunk to a new level of unfriendly behavior, had wedged her toes beneath his backside as she continued tugging and nudging him over to the edge of the bed. His bed. His bed that he did not want to share with anyone at times. Even her.
Well, Cedric thought, she wouldn’t have to work like this to remove him from his own bed any longer. Gravity had done the rest, and he wasn’t going to suffer this kind of humiliation any longer than he had to. Before he could painfully land on his back – or worse!—he twisted himself just in time to land awkwardly on his feet, then turn around and glare at this heartless person he felt he no longer recognized.
“I mean it, Cedric!” she was saying. “Mom and I have to go over my homework. If you can behave yourself”—
If he could behave himself? How did she come up with this garbage?
“You can stay in here with us.”
Cedric was still blinking his surprise as his former girl went on, “We might even invite you up here on the bed with us.”
Invite him? To a place that used to belong to him?
But she wasn’t finished talking. “I cannot afford to do badly on this test tomorrow. If you can’t behave, we’ll put you out in the hall, and you’ll have to sleep with someone else tonight.”
If that didn’t just beat all, Cedric thought, shaking his head sadly. Suddenly and without warning, his world had become a very hostile, painful place. He didn’t know what homework was, but already he knew he hated it! Stupid homework! Stupid, stupid test and homework!
While he was still thinking these thoughts, in burst THE MOMMY, ready to flop down without permission onto Cedric’s bed. That is to say, the bed that had formerly belonged to Cedric. Oh, what a miserable world!
“You can have the left side,” THE SISTER was saying to her, “But be careful not to fall off. It’s not as close to the wall as it looks.”
THE MOMMY nodded her understanding as THE SISTER began to take several books and other materials from her red and black plaid backpack. Within minutes, they were reading aloud to each other, scratching marks all over their papers, comparing notes, giggling, shaking their heads. In a word, they were doing anything and everything possible to make Cedric feel as ostracized and unwanted as possible.
Tail between his legs, Cedric stomped down the hall, trying not to let himself tear up and leave a tell-tale trail of dog-tears all over the floor. He’d hear about his crying jag for weeks on end if Fluffy had anything to do about it. And speak of the bad friend, here she was, in the flesh, practically underneath his front paws before he was able to stop himself.
“What are you trying to do?” she growled, more than a little harsh tonight.
“Leaving the people who kicked me out of my own room, that’s what!” he snarled in reply.
Fluffy sniffed. “Welcome to my world!”
Cedric stopped short. This was the way they treated Fluffy, too? She was well past her prime. And she wasn’t terribly fast, even for an old gal. But didn’t an elderly member of the security detail deserve at least a little respect?
Apparently not. Maybe this would explain some of Fluffy’s standoffish behavior toward him. She was not only being replaced, but no one else even seemed to notice that she got very little attention. Except when she was being carefully escorted away. Away from this, Fluffy! Time to leave that room, Fluffy! Oh, leave that good food alone, Fluffy! That’s not for you, don’t you know!
What a sad way to live.
Thinking about this, Cedric thought that this was not an example of how Jesus taught others to love their neighbors. Fluffy was his neighbor. And she clearly deserved better treatment than this. Even from him.
He would definitely have to pray about this. Dear Jesus, he began, I haven’t been very kind to Fluffy lately. And I have also been pretty possessive about the territory I thought had to be mine. Would You please help me to look at things Your way and treat my people the way You would treat them if You were me? Thank you for hearing my prayers. Amen.
I want to apologize for posting this so late. We went to my daughter’s graduation last night, and got in late and tired. I began today already behind and hadn’t even started writing this story until after lunch. After having my husband edit it for me just minutes ago, I am calling it finished. But now that school is finally over (Whoohoo!!!), I hope to have some time for writing ahead for these blogs. Feel free to pray for me, if you are so inclined.
Praying for you to see the joy that God has for you,