Hi folks. Weasel here. Well, here it is - chapter two..... Not very long awaited. I've got to say that this chapter has come together at breakneck speeds (and at times, both Stasya and I have felt like breaking the necks of either/both of the main characters). This may be the end of Confession as a series. It may not. Certainly for now, this is it! Both of us need the break.
Personally, I think I'll go and write something cheerful for a change. Until then..... enjoy :) -------- Stasya here... My turn to say "Weasel pretty much said it all." Writing this has been rewarding, traumatic, frustrating, eye-opening.... It's been an *experience*. One I'm glad happened. :) No, Mark is not me. Not completely. The following from a conversation with Weasel sums it up. "Mark said and expressed some things I wouldn't have. What fascinates me is that he really dug into my subconscious and talked about some things I had never considered. It flowed easily from him but I was sitting there gawking and muttering 'where the hell did that come from?' " Hope you enjoy it. Once again, this is dedicated to 'G' and his wife. :) ======================= Confession - Chapter two by Weasel and Stasya (or, by Stasya and Weasel Take your pick. ) The morning after the night before. Waking. Alone. Freshening up in the bathroom. Alone. Making and eating my breakfast. Alone. The house has been empty before, but this time, there's a difference. I used to know that there was a marriage here for either of us to come back to. A happy home. Now?....... Jazz gazes at me reproachfully throughout. Asking me where Mark is. Asking me when he's going to come back to us. I endure the routine for as long as I can, but the sight of my breakfast dishes on the kitchen table bring back images of last night. Painfully intense memories. Me, shocked and numb. Him, guilty and torn up inside. Jazz, padding over to take *her* place in the relationship. Her *real* place....... This can't go on. I can't stand it any more. When will he come back? How long do I have to wait for him? I feel a sudden burst of irritation at myself. 'Don't be a fool, Helen! You don't *have* to wait for him. Try taking charge of your *own* life for once! If you want to talk to him, go and find him. 'Or is that too much effort for you? Are you *really* that weak?' ****************** An hour later and the job is done. I've called in sick for the day. I couldn't face work at the moment anyway. I know where my husband is staying. Four phone-calls and a few innocent enquiries were enough to get me his location. Today - finally - we will talk. As I get dressed in the bedroom, my troubled thoughts turn, once again, to Jazz. Should I take her with me? Mark would certainly be pleased to see her. (another brief bolt of pain in my heart) I don't *want* to take her. She threatens me by her very presence. Together, *they* threaten me. I want my husband back, and I can't have him while the dog is there. In the end, though, neither of those arguments sway me. Jasmine decides the issue. Jazz wants to see Mark. She's going to be unhappy if she can't. She already thinks I'm punishing her, and she doesn't understand why. It's *not* her fault. She's just caught in the middle of this whole mess. I won't hurt her again. Jazz comes with me. ----------------------- I've had breakfast. It was a silent one at the coffee shop next to the motel. When I woke up, the loneliness hit me finally. No Helen to snuggle with before getting out of bed. No Jazz insisting on getting *her* breakfast before we got ours. No soulfull brown eyes gazing at us to welcome us to a new day. No Helen. The absence of the center of my life tears at my soul. No Helen. Oh, I miss Jazz as well. I can't deny that. But... It is Helen I miss the most. The two of us together and Jazz orbiting both of us. Her bouncing joy tying Helen and I in the all encompassing circle of her love for the two of us. Strengthening my and Helen's love for each other. As I sit gazing out the windows of my room, I smile bitterly to myself. 'Women can love more than one person at a time.' 'Dogs can love whole families.' 'Why then, is it impossible for a man to love more than one at a time?' How can I explain this to Helen? I'm still searching for the words. Are there words for this? Or is it something you can only *feel*? How do I tell her that a part of me sometimes needs to escape? Forget everything that makes me human. Become a pure, unreasoning animal. Jazz gives me that escape again. With her I can give and take on a level that communicates without words. Without that vaunted *intellect* getting in the way. The two of us *know* what the other is saying. There is no doubt. How do I tell Helen that there are times when I *need* to abandon the very things that make me human? So, that when I take them up again, I am more human than I was before. In spite of everything she does for me, Helen cannot give me that escape. The escape I find myself needing to let me survive in this world. Sighing deeply, I continue to stare out the window at the world that is passing me by. Cold from more than the morning chill, I shiver as I contemplate a possible future without Helen. Without Jazz. Without love. ------------------------- How long have I been standing outside this door now? Ten seconds? A minute? Five minutes? More? Endless time spent trying to work up the courage to do something as *simple* as knocking on it. What do I do if he isn't in? What the *hell* do I do if he is? All I know is that I need to talk. I don't have the faintest idea of what I'm going to say.... So I hesitate. Again. If I go into that room, I will find more grief, more frustration, more reality. Possibly more than I can face. If I go in, I *may* also find a path to my future...... Out here there is nothing. No hope at all. I'll knock. My hand raises to the solid wooden barrier...... and then drops again. 'Coward!' My mind screams at me. 'I have a right to be scared,' comes the child's rejoinder from within. As I struggle with my uncertainty and fear, Jasmine looks up at me again. Somehow, she knew where we were going. As soon as I put the leash on her, she knew. It was as if all of her training had been forgotten. There were times when she pulled me along so hard that the leather strap cut into my flesh. I think that if I had tried to turn back, she would have pulled me over and dragged me the rest of the way. Now, finally, she grows impatient with my indecision. Standing up suddenly, she utters two short, commanding barks and tugs my arm towards the door. If Mark *is* there, he will recognise Jazz's distinctive 'woof'. I know it. Somehow, I get the impression that Jazz knew it too. No. She doesn't. She's just an animal. Stop trying to humanize her. She's a *dog*, that's all! I knock on the door. Somehow, I don't want him thinking that I was scared of facing him. Even though I am. We wait. A short pause that seems like an eternity. The door opens, and I face my husband again. He's here. Relief, renewed pain, fear, apprehension and love all jostle for position within me. He looks stunned to see me. Neither of us speak or act immediately. Again, Jazz is the tension breaker. She has no qualms about expressing herself. Her front paws are already up on his chest, and she is licking his chin with the fervour of a fanatic. He strokes and calms her, but his gaze never leaves my face. "Helen?" he asks, softly. The word means so much more than, 'how did you find me?' and both of us know it. "Can we talk?" God, my voice is shaking. *I'm* shaking. Mark looks nervous, but he gestures for me to come in. He sits on the bed, I take my place on a nearby chair. Jazz dances between us, whimpering in excitement, before settling, predictably enough, with her head on Mark's lap. Why does that hurt so much? If the two of them had done that 24 hours ago, I wouldn't have given it a second thought...... 24 hours ago, I didn't know who - what! - Mark was. He opens his mouth to speak. I shake my head. "Don't say anything. This is going to be difficult enough as it is." I take a deep breath, and search for the best words. There are no *right* ones..... Looking at the wall behind him, avoiding the sight of him and Jasmine together, I begin. "I've had time to think about what you told me. "I don't like it. Hell, I *hate* what you've done. What you want to do. "I'm still not sure whether I can live with this situation. Is there anything worth saving? I don't know. "But I'm willing to try. If you still want to." Tears threaten and I stare unblinkingly at the wall while trying to hold them back. I *won't* let my tears flow. Not here. Not now. My fingers twist around each other in suppressed agitation. I try to keep my voice steady. "It's not much, but it's all I can offer at the moment. "I...." ('Don't say it!!' screams the child's voice inside my head. 'Don't give him the chance to hurt you again!') With difficulty, I force the child back into the recesses of my mind again. I swallow and try again. "I still love you." Finally, I force my gaze back to the two of them and wait for his answer. Does he still want me? Or is he only interested in Jasmine now? --------------------------- I jerk my head towards the door. Did I hear...? Then, a series of knocks. Can it be? Both of them? Would Helen bring Jazz with her? Did Helen track me here? Admittedly, I made no effort to hide from her. Yet, I have to wonder why. If it is her. If that demanding series of barks wasn't my memory talking. By now, I'm at the door. I open it. It is Helen. (Why is she here with Jazz? Is this goodbye? She doesn't want me at the house?) Absentmindedly, I barely notice Jazz as she tries to devour me in her happiness to see me. It's Helen I watch. After an eternity, I remember myself enough to speak. "Helen? I make a question of her name. 'Why are you here with Jazz? For what reason did you take the time to track me down?' 'Are you here to say 'goodbye' or 'come home'?' "Can we talk?" Her voice is trembling and barely above a whisper. 'It's not goodbye!' I begin to feel hope. Is this my chance to get through to her? I hope so. The prospect of failure scares me. I step back and invite her in. As she finds a chair, I sit on the bed. Jazz is... Well, Jazz is being Jazz. Happy to have both of us together. She's bouncing back and forth between us. Can't Helen see that Jazz wants us together? She wants Helen and I next to each other. All Helen has to do is reach out and touch Jazz. How come she won't let herself see? Jazz would stay with her if only she'd reach out a little. Let Jazz know. Finally, Jazz gives up and settles next to me on the bed. Jazz gives me one last look and then rests her head on my lap and focuses on Helen. I start to tell Helen how glad I am to see her. She stops me before I can start. I hear her bitterness. I also hear her ask for help. "I still love you." I'm ecstatic over those simple words. I let none of it show. Now, the hard part. How do I break through her denial? I need to gently lead her to open her eyes and see things around her. Finally, I rise and go to her. Jazz starts to follow me and with a gentle pressure to hold her in place, I silently tell her to stay. Jazz relaxes and watches from the bed. Never removing my gaze from Helen, I sit cross-legged on the floor in front of her. Wordlessly, I reach up to enfold her hands in mine. I feel the trembling. Her slight flinch as I touch her. I feel the restless twisting of her fingers slow and finally still. I reach up with one hand and use a finger to gently brush away the tears that have started to flow. How do I start? "Wait. Please. Just listen for a bit. Don't try to answer what I'm about to say. Just listen." I take a deep breath and struggle to keep my voice calm. Level. "All three of us are changing. "Jazz is changing. She's growing up. Trying to understand her place in our lives. "I'm changing. Not as much as you may think. Just relearning some things I tried to hide from. "You're changing as well. What I'm about to say will hurt. A lot. "You and I are growing up. Again. "Jazz is the only one of us who isn't afraid of growth. "She has no concept of denial. She knows she simply is. She's happy with that. "Me? Well, I know all about denial. I've spent the last several months realizing how damaging it is. I've had more time to adjust. "You?" I reach up and use a finger to gently touch her lips. A silent request that she not speak yet. "I don't know why but you've been in denial as well. Refusing to let yourself see some things. Focusing on others to the exclusion of all else. I smile wryly. "You're human. It's normal for us. "Jazz is a dog. Yes. She has feelings though. Deep ones. She's not a child. If anything, she is a young adult still learning about life. Someone who doesn't hesitate to ask questions and expect answers. "Try to see her as I do. Look back. She has made countless requests that you become more than just her friend. But, in most cases, you ignored her. I'm not saying that you don't care for her. In your way, you love her as deeply as I do. "Jazz wanted more than friendship. She wanted companionship. The reassurance that she has a permanent place with us. She let *you* define how you and she interact. "Think of her as a foreigner. She doesn't understand the language completely. She tries to communicate but we have to make an effort to understand her. "Because of my past, I noticed and understood much of what she has asked. I could respond in ways she easily understood. "I know you know she has feelings. If you thought she didn't, you wouldn't have brought her with you. I know you too well. I sigh and pause. Then, softly, I continue. "If you'll let me, I'll always be here for you. "I can help. I've missed you "I love you. "I know you have problems. Many problems. "I had them too. "The way our culture raised us ensures that. Monogamous human only relationships are normal. A culture that denies that any other types are possible. A culture that ignores humdreds of other types of relationships that have been successful for thousands of years. "Because I've discarded that type of thinking, I think I know what troubles you the most amongst all the things bothering you. "It's that I've had sex with a bitch and want to have sex with Jasmine. "Isn't it?" I receive a nod. "I know you'll have a lot of trouble with this. "Has it occured to you that she wanted sex with me first? I reach and silence her again "Shhh... "I have refused every time Jazz has asked me to have sex with her. "Yes, a bitch can tell you they want even that. Often unmistakably. "And that's a problem *I* face. "I love you just as much as ever. I love Jazz as well. "Jazz, in her way, thinks of me as a sort of strange dog and loves me for what I am. To her, sex is just another form of affection. It doesn't carry all the trappings we humans wrap it with. "It makes you and I happy. She wants to be happy. So, if I deny her that happiness, I will hurt her deeply. I have hurt her already by refusing her. Deeply. She doesn't understand, but she accepts it. She'll never understand that I refused to show my love for her in this most basic of all ways because of my love for you. "Can I continue to refuse her? Not for long. To do so would violate a very basic part of myself. Love and sex are intertwined in me. Denying one is to deny the other. Love without sex is love. A shallower love though. A refusal to commit myself completely. She and I would feel that incompleteness eventually. And it would hurt deeply. Just as it would hurt you and I. "This is the change I'm talking about. I quit letting others tell me what to think and decided for myself. I still have problems at times. "In order to understand or even accept me as I now am, you'll have to be able to accept that humans and animals aren't really all that different. Different forms? Yes. Different languages? Yes. Animals as children? No. They are adults in their own right. And, if we but make the effort, we can deal with them on those terms. As equals sharing life." Finally, I pause. I gently squeeze Helen's hands to try and give her some of my strength. To remind her that I care for her. I wait. ------------------------------------- His words bring new thoughts. New emotions. Anger is uppermost. Incensed outrage. How can he say that I ignore Jazz? It's not true! I open my mouth to deny it vehemently. To deny it absolutely. To deny. Deny. Denial? My thinking echoing his words..... *Is* he right? *Have* I been deaf to what she was telling me? Sudden, unwelcome memories, of my own thoughts and actions...... 'Doesn't he understand that she's just an *animal*?' 'She didn't ask for his love. How could she? She doesn't even understand what the word means!' 'She's just an animal. Stop trying to humanize her. She's a *dog*, that's all!' My own thoughts. Betraying me. He says she can ask for sex...... She *did* ask for that kind of attention. When she was in heat. I saw her doing it, and dismissed it as pure instinct. Now? Suddenly, I'm not so sure. My actions. Doing what is best for Jazz. Protecting Jazz. Deciding for Jazz. I gaze into the distance again, trying to make sense of my troubled thoughts. Shouldn't I protect her? She's in my care. It's only natural, isn't it? She's my responsibility. It is then that I remember the pain in her eyes when I shut her away from Mark. Me, acting upon her, forcing her to do my bidding, in direct constrast to her own preferences. I don't know what to think. Child or adult? *Just* a dog, or *fully* a dog? Capable of feeling love? Certainly capable of feeling pain. If pain, then why not love? Why is that so hard for me to accept? Is Mark right? Am I denying Jazz her natural place within the family? (But she's just a dog!) This time I suppress the thought, almost before it has a chance to surface. Maybe I *have* ignored her needs. Grudgingly, I allow the admission to drift through my mind. Maybe. But does that change anything? *If* she's capable of making her own choices, and telling Mark and I what she really wants, that's one thing. Does that give her the right to expect what she does from him? She has the right to demand, but dammit, he has the right to refuse! So what if she's an adult? Adults don't get their own way all the time! Adults have to learn to live with disappointment. He talks of disappointing Jazz. Upsetting Jazz. Hurting Jazz. (He's disappointing me. He's upsetting me. He's hurting me too....) I shrug the pain away - for now - and try to think again. Is *that* why he feels the need to have sex with her then? Just for *her* sake? What is it with the two of them? Lust? Love? Obsession? A combination of them all? If all she's demanding is sex, we could get another dog. We could breed her, or - or something! If she wants love..... well, I love her. Mark loves her. That should be enough. He's turning everything the wrong way around. It's not fair! Other people have pets. Happy pets. Without having to have sex with them. I don't understand why Mark and Jazz are different..... He still loves me. That thought brings a wash of relief over me. But I still don't understand where my place is now. That troubles me more than anything else. I have to know. Mark is still waiting. Silently patient, he holds my hands. I look at him. Not angry any more. Just confused. Then my gaze wanders over to the bed. Jasmine stares at me, head slightly to one side. She needs to know her place as well. Gently, I slide my hands out of his and stand up. I feel both pairs of eyes on me as I walk over to the bed and sit down beside Jazz. She shifts her head so that it lies on my lap. I run a hand along her flank, caressing her soft fur. Somehow, the simple gestures bring me close to tears again, but this time the emotion is not a hurtful one. At last, I speak. "Tell me what she means to you. I'm trying to understand. It's important." I listen. -------------------------- I get up and walk to the window. Gaze unseeingly out. Now comes the hard part. Is she prepared enough? I don't know. My mind tumbles over the rocks of my past. The things *I* had to unlearn those many years ago. How much more difficult will it be for Helen? I turn to look at the two of them. Helen and Jasmine. Jasmine and Helen. The two I love most in this world. I can't help but smile as I see that Jazz has relaxed into Helen's unconscious caresses. Helen is watching me but her hand tells another story. Jazz is limp under those strokes. Eyes closed, she is the picture of doggy contentment. The tenseness I've felt leaves me. My whole body relaxes and my smile becomes conscious and genuine. Whatever Helen's conscious mind says, I can deal with it as the last dying words of a child. She's accepted that she and Jazz will have to share me. She doen't know it though. Not completely. Not consciously. I turn back to the window and speak. "Jazz means as much to me as you do." (There, I've said it.) "Maybe more at times. But then, except for those times, you mean as much to me or far more than Jazz ever will. "Those times when I need Jazz more aren't very often. "I'm not sure of all the reasons myself. "Sometimes I wonder if it has to do with how sensitive I am. "The one thing I know for sure is that once in a while I need to escape. "Escape from being human. Totally abandon everthing that makes me human. Become a pure unthinking animal for a while. "Reacting with my emotions only. No intellect to confuse things. No worrys about all the things that humans think about. "Even with you, I haven't had that total abandonment. Oh, we get close. But with Jazz, it can be total. I *know* that much with a certainness beyond words. "I was that way with Beth. Even without the sex, I could give up what makes me human. I can do that much with Jazz already. "So, if I get that, how come I want to have sex with her? Right?" I turn back to the two of them and walk over to sit at Helen's feet. I look up. "Yes, part of that escape means escaping from you. I don't mean that in a negative sense. When I say abandon my ties with humanness, I mean leave all of them behind. "I can't do that during sex with any human." Tears of frustration begin to flow. "Lord knows I've tried. For years I've tried to capture that with you. I get so frustratingly close to that but always, there is a little bit that remains. "A lingering bit of humanness that I can't shake when I'm with you. Part of my denial was convincing myself that I could abandon myself totally when with you. "Once we got Jazz and she learned her place with you and in our family, she turned to me. I started unconsciously responding to her attentions based on what I had learned from loving Beth. That forced me to remember what I had received from Beth. Then, when Jazz asked me for sex, I knew that I'd have to tell you eventually. "Sex with Beth was a total abandonment of self. When I was sick of dealing with people, I could go to her and become one with her. One in a way that no matter how hard I try, I can't be with a human. "When I came back from that and took up the trappings of being human, I was always able to think more clearly. I was relaxed. All the hurt, the pain, the frustration, would be gone or so muted that I could step back and deal with it. I could go back and deal with the world again. "For me, those times when I had sex with an animal, were a time of restoration of my humanity. "Sex with Jazz. That total commitment and acceptance that occurs only during sex, will let me be more human. "It's not a case of loving you less. It's just that sometimes the pressures of being human get to the point I have to walk away from them for a bit. Jazz can give me that again. I smile somewhat bitterly. "I can point to some things. Others? Well, they just are. Jazz and I speak a language born of pure emotions without reasons. "Language shapes and limits how we view the world. Being bilingual across species, I see the world differently than 'normal' people. "Simpler sometimes? Maybe. Part of me sees the strength of emotional ties though. "I guess you could say that because my first love was with a bitch, I'll always have a special kinship with them. "Women and dogs are acknowledged to be able to love more than one at a time. How come I can't? "I speak two languages. One is human. The other is dog. Unless you learn the second, you'll never truly understand how I straddle two worlds. Because of *that*, I need Jazz. I need you. Neither one of you will ever fully replace the other. The two of you complement each other and fully complete me. "My love. My dearest Helen. I'm sorrier than you'll ever know that my preoccupation with finding a way to tell you this caused us to start drifting apart. That what I am makes you question your place in my life. Makes you question that you can ever have a place there again. "You've never lost that place. "Look at Jazz. She's content with what is. "I can accept what is." I get up and sit next to her. Wrap my arms around her and hold her next to me. Then, I whisper. "Look at your hand. At Jazz. You can accept too. If you try." ----------------------- 'You can accept too.' Can I? I look down at Jazz. Content, happy, unconcerned. Accepting. Why can't I do the same thing? He said that she means as much to him as I do. Sometimes. *I* mean more to him. Sometimes. But other times, *she* means more than me? My mind struggles with the concept. I feel an instinctive sense of rejection. One which surpasses mere words and logic. I still can't shake the idea that what he's doing is *wrong*. There are no clear words or thoughts to go with this feeling, nevertheless it is a strong driving force within me. Wrong? Something about the word tugs insistently at me. Why is it wrong? I need to understand. Instant justifications race through my mind. Nobody else does it. It's not normal..... It's against the law..... My upbringing - everything I've been taught - says it's wrong..... I shouldn't have to share him. He's my husband..... Then Mark's words come to mind: 'I quit letting others tell me what to think and decided for myself.' For the first time, I consider the meaning of his words. Is *that* all that it comes down to in the end? Worrying about what the neighbours would say? Worrying about how the community would view us? Is it just 'I'm too weak to decide for myself'? I don't know what to think. I search within my mind for arguments I can use to reject the idea of his zoo.... his zoo-whatever-he-called-it. I try to pin down just *one* good reason why *I* can justify the inherent evil within his actions. Many, many reasons. None that satisfy me. Law, religion, society, rules, rules, rules. Because *we* tell you to. It's for your own good. Again, I look at Jazz. I believed I was doing what was best for her. Telling her what to do. For *her* own good. All that I managed was to cause her grief and distress. *If* Jazz has a right to decide for herself, then so do I. Why is it wrong? Because he lied to me. Because he hurt me. Because the feelings he has for Jazz scare me. Those thoughts are jerked out of my subconscious with all the rawness of a fresh wound. I flinch with the intensity of the pain that I feel. No matter what I do, I can't escape from the fact that he hurt me so badly. For just a moment, all of the anger and bitterness is back again, and I nearly surrender to the powerful emotions. My mind refuses to give up so easily, though. I still feel the need to understand..... He lied to me. Did he? Or was he lying to himself, primarily? Was it deceit, or just confusion so vast that he couldn't find his way through it? An uncomfortable thought occurs to me. If he *did* know, he should have trusted me, surely? I would have repaid the trust by..... by..... by turning my back on him and considering him to be a monster. By getting angry and shutting myself away from him. Trust me? Why should he? Now I begin to feel the first stinging of uncertainty. *Is* it wrong? He hurt me. He scares me. My mind is relentless. Ruthless. Would I be so hurt and scared if I allowed myself to understand and accept him? The answer comes reluctantly. Probably not. So, who is hurting whom? My own decisions - or lack of them - are the only things that damage me. Helen hurts Helen. Helen can stop hurting Helen. If she wants to. If she accepts..... Accept? Accept that Mark can love our dog as much - more! - than he loves me? No. It's too big a leap. I can't do it. Yet. Jazz shifts on my knee, uttering a little snort of contentment, and I look down at her fondly. My fingers continue their gentle caresses through her fur. She's so affectionate. So trusting..... All at once, I see the contrast. I sit here, worrying my private worries, thinking my private thoughts, and silently withdrawing from my husband. Making him wait until I am ready to speak, or act. Jazz gives what she has to give, without fear of the consequences. She is open and honest, in a way that no human could ever be. Is *that* what Jazz gives him that I can't? I sit there, stunned in the realization that Mark's love for the two of us may not be more, or less, but just different. There is no human that can compete with Jazz, and there is no dog that can compete for his human love. Now, at last, I can feel some hope. This new world may not be wrong. It may not be threatening. It's too soon to tell. My logic and my emotions still try to tell me two different things. The pain cannot simply be thought away. Finally, though, I have reached my decision. I turn to Mark. A thousand things pass through my head. I could explain. I could justify. I could set my terms with him. None of that seems important. None of it is necessary. Not yet. My fingers curl around his hand, while my other hand rubs softly at Jazz' ears. "I want to try again," I tell him softly. "Come home with me?" ------------------- 'Come home with me?' I soar inwardly. My Helen is back! It may take a while, but there is hope within me again. I tighten my arms around her. "Come home? "Home is where you and Jazz are. "I'm already there." With that, I finally cry tears of joy and release. I lean my head on her shoulder. "Thank You." There is a world of shared thoughts in those simple words. After months of separation, we are a family again. --------------- -- Epilog -- It is years later. Helen and Jazz and I have made our peace. My zoophilia is a hidden but normal part of our lives. Our lives are routine now. I'm at work. My co-workers are gathered around a computer terminal. I hear laughs, snorts and muttered comments. Finally, "Hey Mark! Come take a look at this." Wondering what is so important to them, I wander over. "Look at this. You'd think these sick perverts were serious." Another mutters... "Damn perverts. Must not be able to find any human partners." I wonder how come the emphasis on *human* partners. I look at the screen. My God!! NO! IT CAN'T BE TRUE!!! There, on the screen are words. One of the words is zoophile. It's a web site for zoophiles. Impossible! My mind screams it. Refuses to believe. Oh-dear-god-let-this-be-a-nightmare. As my co-workers laugh and make ribald and ugly coments, I numbly reply to some of them. "Yeah, sick." My voice is weak. "They need help." Inwardly I'm thinking. 'They're helping *themselves*.' Numbed, I barely remember one of the urls. I drift back to my desk. When I'm sure nobody is paying any attention, I write down the url and put the paper in my pocket. One thought beats in my mind for the rest of the day. Is it true? Is it true? Or is this some macabre nightmare to put me in my own personal hell? Dear merciful God, let it be true. * * * As I walk in the door at home, I'm shaking, Trembling from reaction to the day's discovery. I hear Jazz's welcoming barks. Helen hugs me and asks what's wrong. "Mark!? You're trembling!" "The computer, the computer." I mumble the words as though they are some sort of mantra. Jazz dodges out of my way as I let go of Helen and enter the house. I stagger to where the computer is. Paw through the drawer of disks like some frenzied Terrier. All I can say is a repeated mumble... "There are others, there are others, there are others...." Helen is staring at me. "Other WHAT?" In my frantic searching, I ignore her demand. "AH HAH!" I hold up a disk containing the internet software we never installed. Hands shaking, I insert it and do the installation. Agree to the payment plan. I whisper... "Dear GOD if it's true, I don't care how much I pay." Helen is standing behind me now. I barely notice her. Hands trembling, I bring up the web browser. I dig out the piece of paper and haltingly type in the url I so carefully remembered. I look up at my wife and whisper... "I just discovered there are others on the net. People like me. Like us." I see her stunned amazement. "Zoophiles? "Are you sure?" I gaze into her eyes. "My God, I hope so. Otherwise my day has been some cruel nightmare." I look back at the screen. Tremblingly, haltingly, I force myself to hit the enter key. Then with one hand I reach to hold Helen's hands where they tremble on ny shoulder. The other automatically reaches to my lap. Jasmine has rested her head there and trembles along with us. All she understands is that something has changed. Good, bad, she doesn't know what's going on but she wants to share it with us anyway. Forever in a second. An eternity. Then, a screen. The one I remember from work. Helen's arms go around me. I barely feel her hug. Her breath is a stunned whisper in my ear. It's not a dream. Both of us are trembling as we explore. Sweet jesus! There are so many of them! Web sites. Stories. Information.... We spend hours just skimming from place to place. These people really are out there. As we finally shut down the computer, Helen comes around to sit in my lap. All I can say through my drained emotions is... "I'm not alone. " *We're* not alone." It is enough. ------------- firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com ------------- REALITY CHECK (or: A note from Bitzer) OK so maybe I didn't write this, but several people have already asked how closely it is based on my RL experiences with Weasel. There is a simple answer to that: IT ISN'T!! Bitzer