Brunetta finds her calling in life.
Stifftail watched Amber and her family lying snug beneath the quilt. He knew he’d never get close to Amber again. He’d blown his chance when he’d told her that he’d rather his cubs died at birth.
Sulking, Stifftail buried his face in his paws.
Meanwhile, Tigger and Amber hugged Whitie and Blanche tightly, the two cubs snuggling close to them. Blanche, stroking Tigger’s right forepaw, tried not to think of what her sire would have done to her had the huge tiger who’s paw she was now stroking not intervened.
“Thank you Tigger,” Blanche said softly, “I owe my life to you.” Tigger shook his head.
“Don’t say That,” he pleaded, “please blanche, don’t say that.”
“But it’s true!” blanche replied, “if you hadn’t done what you did, I would be dead now.” Blanche squealed as she felt Tigger’s teeth close gently onto one of her ears!
“Don’t say any more little Blanche,” the tiger said firmly. Blanche, shocked into silence by Tigger’s action, lay on the quilt, frightened to move.
“Why did you do that!” Amber demanded of Tigger, “why bite Blanche’s ear!”
“She can’t see my face,” Tigger replied, “and seeing my face would tell anyone that I don’t wish for the conversation to continue. Blanche can’t see my face, so I had to tell her in another way, the best of which is to gently use my teeth to get the point across.” Until Tigger mentioned it, Amber hadn’t ever thought of it that way.
Blanche whimpered with fear, then she felt Tigger nuzzling rather than biting her ear. Cuddling up to the huge tiger, Blanche worked her paws into his fur.
“Dear, sweet Blanchey cub,” Tigger purred. Blanche felt a rush of emotion as Tigger hugged her.
“Hold me close Tigger!” Blanche pleaded. Tigger embraced his tiny cub.
“You’re safe here Blanche,” Tigger said gently. Blanche sniffed slightly, tears threatening to overcome her.
“It’s okay to cry,” Tigger said, stroking Blanche’s tiny paws. Blanche cuddled even closer to Tigger, burying her face in his fur. Tigger felt his fur getting wet and realised Blanche was crying. He held her tenderly, letting her do her own thing. Tears don’t last forever, and Blanche recovered her composure.
Meanwhile, Arki and Sam stroked Candy, the cub enjoying every minute of their attention. Sam massaged Candy’s ears, back and hind paws, Arki her forepaws, muzzle and belly. Candy basked in warmth. She loved being stroked, her soft spots being her belly and the soles of her paws. Brunetta watched the two adult polar bears massaging their cub. She hardly saw Bruin now, after the initial joy of meeting her again, after a long time apart, Bruin had lost interest, and now Brunetta was alone. She saw the families around her, Arki and Sam with Candy their cub, Amber and Tigger with their cubs blanche, Whitie, and the yet unnamed male snow tiger cub. Stifftail was unattached, but he was a nasty [piece of work, and brunetta wasn’t so desperate as to even consider asking him to be with her. Sighing regretfully, Brunetta kept a watch on what was going on around her, that which seldom included her. Brunetta saw the image in front of her blur as tears overcame her. Covering her face with her paws, Brunetta tried to hide the fact she was crying. Brunetta suddenly felt small paws take hold of hers and hold them tight. Brunetta looked through the gaps between her toes and was surprised to see Reynard, the red fox. Brunetta let Reynard take her paws and place them on the quilt, so that her face was now visible. The fox saw red rimmed eyes and a tear stained face, the female brown bear’s facial fur dirty with tears.
“What’s up?” The fox asked. Not the best line he could have used, he was certain of that, but the best he could think of at short notice. Brunetta took a deep breath, the effort seeming to shake her whole body.
“I see other animals with their families, doing what families do. Mothers and sires hugging cubs and cubs hugging their parents and their siblings. I see them stroking each other, tickling each other’s paws, all that, and Reynard, I’m not part of that any more. Bruin doesn’t want to know me. He’s too wrapped up in what’s going on downstairs, and there are no other brown bears here, let alone a cub for me to look after. I feel as if there’s nothing to live for any more, noone will hug me, why should they? They have their families, they won’t want to know a fat old bear like me.”
“I know where you’re coming from,” Reynard said, “there’re no vixens here, so I’m in the same predicament. Though I think I know who might be able to help you. Go and talk with Snowy Half Tail.”
“Why Snowy?” Brunetta asked, “she’s a tigress!”
“She’s kind and gentle, and in the same situation as you are,” Reynard replied, “please, just give it a try, go and talk to her.” A thud and a few choice words made Brunetta look round. Snowy, hearing she might be wanted, had struggled across the carpet, crawling by pushing with one hind paw and pulling with both forepaws, as she couldn’t put all four paws to the ground. Reaching the quilt, she’d quite literally clawed her way onto the quilt, finally throwing herself upwards and forwards to get to Brunetta’s side. Now totally worn out, snowy lay beside Brunetta, panting for air with all four paws aching from her exertions.
“I heard you wanted me Brunetta,” snowy half tail panted, “but first, let, let me rest a while, please.” Brunetta looked snowy over, from her slightly open mouth as she fought to pull in air, to her heaving ribs and sweat soaked fur, to her trembling paws. Her heart going out to the snow tigress, Brunetta took one of snowy’s forepaws, now damp with perspiration, and began to stroke it. Snowy swallowed hard, her fight for air continuing.
“thank you Brunetta,” she said. Coughing convulsively, Snowy’s paws clenched as she fought for air and her lungs complained.
“I wasn’t supposed to do this,” Snowy gasped, “I’m too large, not enough strength really, not now.” Brunetta hugged Snowy, desperately hoping the snow tigress didn’t die where she lay.
“Cubbing nearly finished me off,” snowy continued, “all the pain and effort I went through nearly finished me off.” Brunetta heard snowy panting for breath and thought she might try to help her.
“Can I take hold of your left forepaw?” brunetta asked. Snowy weakly waved her left forepaw, shocked that it felt as heavy as lead.
“Now, when I squeeze your paw,” Brunetta said, “I want you Snowy, to close your mouth and breathe in through your nose,, then, when I let go, I want you to open your mouth and breathe out slowly. Concentrate on breathing out slowly.” Snowy nodded, wondering what on earth Brunetta was playing at.
“Okay,” she gasped, “I don’t know what this is all about, but anything’s better than this!” snowy breathed in when she felt Brunetta’s paw tighten on hers.
“Now breathe out slowly, very slowly,” Brunetta commanded, gradually releasing Snowy’s paw.
“We’ll do it twice more,” Brunetta said. Snowy closed her mouth and breathed in through her nose once more. The pressure on her paw relaxed and snowy concentrated on breathing out through her mouth.
“One more for luck,” Brunetta said. Snowy repeated the ritual a third time, and realised she felt much better.
“Thank you,” Snowy said to the female brown bear, “that did the trick, whatever it was.”
“Now you’re back in control of your breathing,” Brunetta replied. Snowy took Brunetta’s forepaw in both of hers and began to stroke it.
“Do you like your hind paws stroked too?” snowy asked.”
“I do,” Brunetta replied, “do you like your paws stroked?”
“I’ve always found it unpleasant,” snowy replied, “but I think that’s down to rough handling in the past. I’m willing to give it a go.” Brunetta relaxed as Snowy’s huge paws massaged hers. Massaging Brunetta’s hind paws, snowy thought about having her own paws taken in those of the female brown bear. Would she be able to cope with it? Would she like it? Or would it be a dreadful experience like before?
Once Snowy had finished Brunetta’s paw massage, she lay down and Brunetta took hold of one of her forepaws in both of hers.
“I’ll take it slowly,” the bear said, “tell me at any time if you want me to stop and I will.” Snowy clenched her teeth, waiting for all hell to break loose. Snowy found, to her great astonishment, that she enjoyed the massage of her forepaws, and that when Brunetta massaged her hind paws, Snowy wanted to press her paws into those of the brown bear. This she did, pressing her pads against ~Brunetta’s, but Brunetta stopped stroking her.
“Relax your paw snowy,” Brunetta said, “just let it lie in my paws.” Snowy concentrated on relaxing her paw. The massage continued, and snowy was soon asleep. Brunetta let go of Snowy’s right hind paw and lay down beside the sleeping snow tigress, taking her left forepaw in both of hers. Brunetta felt alive once more, she had a purpose in life once more, even if it was soothing the mind of a stressed out snow tigress. Best of all, she had company, something she’d missed for so long.
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Martin Wilsher © 2010
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