Vocal Media – Dexter

Authors note: Another Vocal Media challenge entry.

The autumn wind blew stronger than usual that year. Each time a gust rustled through the valley, the rickety old barn that sat on the hill shivered with fear. It was 110 years old, and even a sneeze threatened to take down the walls. The house was long gone, maybe 40 years since anyone lived on the property. It once stood as a pillar of hope for a young family in the depression years. Time had not been kind to the structure. As each member of the family laid to rest in the cemetery on the hill, another board fell, almost as if it wept for the loss.

A swoosh of oversized wings spreading out as they took the last flight of the evening. A shadow of gray was the last some saw as the old owl swooped down and captured his one meal of the day. Some would call it brutal, but the circle of life is not a pretty one. One must die for another to live. Some day the old owl would lay on the ground and feed the earth with years of memories. One day, but not today. Dexter was one of the main residents in that dilapidated old barn. His home in the rafters, he perched each morning as the sun kissed the moon good morning. None ever took the liberty of kicking out the bird of prey from his seclusion. It would not end well if they tried. The territorial creature was as meek as a mouse, but those talons were not to be trusted. Even those who live in peace have a brief moment of insanity when provoked.

“Dexter, where are you?” a female voice screamed.

Vanessa Holland banged on the door of the barn as though someone, anyone, would invite her in. Mice scurried into their homes, the pigeons that roosted in the nooks and crannies of the wood tucked in their heads. All knew the voice of the young girl, but most ignored the shrill of the female. She was off her rocker and even the animals fled her presence.

Pushing open the door, the frame of the building screamed. Wood has a language of its own that only those who listen closely can hear. First a foot pushed in, her knee braced against the termite rotted flesh, it took all her strength of slip inside of the dim room.

“I brought you a gift, Dexter. I can’t hold on to this thing forever,” Vanessa giggled. In her hand was a small rat that attempted to take up residence in her shoe. Barely covered in fur, the little creature shivered from the cold. “Now shush you. I warned you not to climb into my only pair of shoes. You didn’t listen to me,” Vanessa scolded the rat. Her arm stretched out. The cowering little creature was a sitting duck for Dexter. In a silent flight from the darkness above, Dexter grabbed the little rodent before Vanessa could scream. Shaking in fear, the slight framed girl watched as his claw left only one reminder of his presence. A single drop of crimson now stained her palm. The mouse now gone. He fed the owl and paid the ultimate price for seeking warmth from the elements. Life is not fair, but for some, a swift death will take away a lifetime of misery.

“Oh GOD, Dexter. Warn me next time. You gave me a fright,” Vanessa cried.

As she dragged her hand back, smearing the drop of blood across her jeans, Vanessa felt the single tear roll down her cheek. “Dexter, can you come sit with me awhile? I need someone to talk to,” she whispered. “Please,” begging.

The regal bird rested with a full stomach as he listened to the pleas of the young girl. Tugging in a breath, his wings spread as the bird of night sailed to rest on the pile of rotting hay. Dropping his lids, Dexter waited for the chatter from his human friend. He didn’t quite understand the meaning behind her words, but he offered her his ears as a therapist.

“They told me I can’t come here anymore? It’s not safe for me to be on my own,” her voice cracked. “How can they take you away from me?” Vanessa cried.

The old barn, as decrepit as it was, sheltered Vanessa from the loneliness of an abandoned life. Placed in a hospital at a young age, the world around her sterile, white, and without feeling. Even as the wind blew through the cracks in the walls, the barn offered more warmth than she had ever felt.

With his eyes as slits, Dexter slowly turned, inching forward towards his friend. The only sound between them soft breaths from the girl. This would be the last year that Dexter comforted his friend. Though no words ever spoke, none ever needed. His presence was enough.

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