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I Was Born Heinz 
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Post I Was Born Heinz
So, I wrote a character sheet for Valerio's fic introducing Elsa and Amar to the special forces team for Project Prometheus. Elsa's past involves a German Shepherd named Heinz, and I wrote an outline of his back story in preparation for writing Elsa's. This made me interested in his story, so I began writing it. I'm a fair ways through it now, so I'm going to start sharing it here. :D
This means I have achieved Fic-ception! :twisted:
-----

It seems my entire life had been laid out for me at birth – February 20, 1989 in Viernheim, Germany as the son of two pedigree German Shepherds: Frei, a dog of note in the Federal Border Guard, loyal and strong, and Fina, a great show dog and shining example of her breed, coming even in 5th at the German Championships in 1986. Beyond their deeds, they were passionate and driven individuals. They always strived to be all that they could be, to leave no regrets. Even tempered, but strong-willed, they were the perfect choice, it seemed, to bring a special pup into the world. The male heir of parents such as these clearly was destined for a life of greatness. Everyone who saw me in those first few days looked on with eager smiles, waiting to see what I would become; and yet, despite the high hopes of those kennel breeders for whom I was sired, fate had conspired to give them me.

I was born Heinz, a name strong and simple, playfully referring to my red-hued fur. Though I was never told how the name was decided upon or who chose it; I have always been rather certain that it, like every other decision about me, was researched, scrutinized, and thoroughly deliberated on. It reflected well the vision of my handlers, and I could see that vision from the earliest of ages that I can remember. It was a reflection of my parents. It spoke of my father’s great character and my mother’s joyous spirit. Impressed upon me from birth was the knowledge that I was to grow to fill this name and make it my own.

Immediately I was moved into obedience school to begin my journey to fulfilling my destiny. Though I had never met my parents, I was told so much about them I could have written their biography for the annals of history.

My father, Frei, once saved the life of his human partner. What seemed like the routine disarming of a bomb somehow went awry. As the bomb readied itself, it let out a soft, high-pitched tone that gave my father just enough warning. With great courage and astounding alacrity, he snatched the jacket of his partner and dragged him just clear of the kill zone as the explosion rang out. They both were hospitalized for a week and the man lost a leg, but it was much better than the alternative. My father carries the shrapnel and a medal for his service.

My mother, Fina, was vastly intelligent even at a young age. She began reading well before her peers. The instructors were always impressed with her ability to carry out all instructions when most others were so distracted they ended up chasing their tails halfway through. Her dedication to achieving every goal set before her was second to none. They even started on training with the agility course well before the usual age. Though my mother’s athleticism never made competition levels, her determination to advance and improve at such a young age spoke volumes.

At the age of two I knew more about my parents than I did myself. They were to be my inspiration, my guiding light. Their blood was mine. I was to proudly bear their name through my life and pass it lovingly on to my progeny. My children would hold my name in awe as I did for the names of my parents. All these things I was told from the earliest day of my life.

Still, I am me: Heinz. The glory of my parents must have blinded me, and their blood must have overwhelmed me. For even from those earliest of days I can remember one thing very clearly: the looming shadow of doubt. I have no recollection of a time without it, settled deep like a stone in my gut. It was like a cloud in my mind rumbling lowly in the background, whispering quietly. My determination was born not of a desire to succeed but of a fear to fail.

I remember that fear. Every move I made, I felt the scrutiny of the people, always present, always watchful. Every step I took, I felt their judgment. Over and over again I weighed my every decision carefully, meticulously, painstakingly. Somehow, it was never enough. Again and again I scoured the pages of my memories for clues on what to do and what not to do. I was always determined to find the correct course of action in every circumstance.

It was never so simple.

With every new situation come new variables and new paths and new opportunities. I never saw them as opportunities to succeed: always I saw failure. Always I failed.

Honestly, thinking back on those days is almost like watching a cliché movie where you just want to shout the painfully simple solution to the main character and see him magically get over his problems. Pups, however, are still trying to figure things out, and I just got myself locked down too tightly to see my problems from the outside. It’s almost tragically comical in a way.

To be honest it wasn’t entirely one big failure of a life. At the time I only remembered the failures which were the source of that vicious cycle keeping me down. Though there were successes, they felt minor and insignificant in the face of my inadequacies.

It all started with books. In hindsight it’s patently obvious that leaving out books for a couple-month-old pup was designed to stimulate an early interest – clearly in memory of my mother. Within a few weeks it became clear to me that these were important items, and that I was supposed to do something with them. Figuring out what became the real issue.

What was so magical about them? I could not have told you. What was the elusive “thing” necessary to properly use them? I spent long periods of time pondering this. Opening the books always brought praise, especially when I looked at the little pictures and squiggle marks and turned the pages every so often. Even still, something was missing. I could sense it. Some unconscious body language or facial expressions must have tipped me off. It brought the feeling of disappointment, of failure and judgment, which never left from then on.

Eventually I was taught to read along with everyone else in my peer group, but the failure had already begun. Already its seed had been planted in me. Already it had taken root. Though I was indeed reading with everyone else I wasn’t sure if it was good enough. I was aware that reading was the solution to the great mystery by that point, but I could no longer go back to the past to perform it, despite my prayers for such a chance to please my trainers. However earnestly I asked and pleaded, the past remained past.

A mistake, once made, cannot be undone. Having learned this, I resolved to make no more mistakes. Great is the naïveté of a pup. Such was my desire. Such would be my failure.

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:24 am
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
Aww, this was so sweet. Poor Heinz, but the time to shine for real will come for him as well, don't worry.

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:39 am
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
Interesting story Obbl. A good character too. Also, Happy Birthday!

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Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:19 pm
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
Thanks
Let me know if it gets too depressing. The mind can be a terrible, terrible place.
And, yes, he does get his time to shine

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Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:26 pm
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
Next part. I like constructive criticism as well as positive feedback, so let me know what you all think.
-----

Frei once exposed a smuggling operation through keen observation and intuition. He was on patrol at the port in Bremen mostly for routine drug sniffing as crates and trucks were loaded onto ships. He happened to look up at one of the drivers flashing his pass to another patrolman when something caught his attention. For a few seconds he wasn’t sure what was wrong, but then it hit him: the pass was for Norddeutscher Lloyd. They had recently merged with HAPAG to form Hapag-Lloyd, so why were their employees still using passes for one of the old companies? He explained to his human partner what was going on, but since the merger was still fairly recent – and given that my father was still a rookie – it was dismissed as an oversight. Still, Frei felt uneasy, so he asked to check the cargo himself just to satisfy his curiosity. It wasn’t drugs, and all the paperwork was checking out. They would have gone through if the young Shepherd hadn’t acted on his instinct and pushed one of the crates out the back of the truck. It cracked open just enough to reveal ammunition. Within minutes the two truck drivers were arrested, and several more arrests were made over the following week. My father received a stern reprimand for recklessness, but it was more a formality. Everyone considered it a great example of sticking to one’s gut feeling.

Fina was able to win a beauty pageant purely through study. By keeping aware of the news about the upcoming competition she learned that they were bringing in a guest judge from Japan. Immediately the young Shepherdess hit the encyclopedias for information. With the two months she had left she studied the Japanese culture and the art of flower arranging. She tracked down Japanese tourist groups to study their mannerisms and interview them on proper behaviour. It took lots of investigative effort, but it paid off. When the time came for her to be judged, she was able to act the part of proper Japanese lady dog. She was also able to go into the finer details of flower arranging when asked about her hobbies, and bowed politely before they left. The guest judge was so astonished to see this, that he persuaded the others to vote for Fina. Hard work and dedication gave my mother the victory.

By the age of two, I was falling behind. All the other pups were reading, writing and arithmeticking about as well as could be expected. I was not. To be honest, I was even fearful of being kicked out. I had developed a rather healthy dyslexia, a wonderful stutter, and I second guessed my mathematics to such a degree that I never got the same answer twice for any given problem. By this time, I knew all the signs of an oncoming panic attack better than I knew the back of my own paw and had learned more about stifling emotions than anyone should know at such a young age.

The kennel owners were slowly giving up on me. The looks on their faces spoke of confusion, disappointment, and even despair. It was all my fault. I knew that full well. That year was spent in a desperate bid to please them no matter the cost. I spent hours practicing my reading and my maths. I was so fatigued that I could hardly make it through my classes awake, but I pressed on. Privately this actually yielded fairly good results. When I tried to repeat them publicly, however, I watched in horror as all my hard work fell to pieces before my eyes. Passages that I had specifically read the night before suddenly looked like gibberish to me, addition problems I knew I had just done became as calculus, and try as I might, the word “sprechen” took an hour to say and sounded like I was choking the whole way through.

Specialists from all over were brought in to see me. It is interesting to note that a lot of their techniques are similar even if they are trying to help you with different problems. They all revolve around slowing down and letting it come to you. When you speak, let yourself pause if you feel yourself blocking, and don’t be afraid to mispronounce the word a little if it makes it easier to say. When you read, take your finger and run it along one word at a time while you carefully sound it out. It’s all very similar, and though it helped to some degree, I just couldn’t get past the anxiety when it came time to put it into action.

A therapist was even brought in for my “nervousness” – they were, at the time, in denial about the seriousness of my state of mind. I feel like therapy might have actually been good for me if the trainers weren’t so result driven at the time. It’s unfortunate. Regardless, I learned calming techniques, went through a few medications for various things, and did a lot of talking. The man’s name was Klaus Hoch, and we made progress by digging into the problems. He forced me to question things I had thought resolute fact and to break down ideals I had held into observable pieces to examine. Things take time when deep emotions are involved. Apparently it was taking too much time, which prompted his dismissal after a mere two months.

A year of specialized help and little achievement left the team feeling dispirited. They started trying to get me out more to play and socialize instead of studying. I was confused by this new turn of events and at one point considered that it might have been a test of my determination, prompting a renewed vigour in my studies for a while. Needless to say, I was lonely. It’s hard being “that pup” – the one that can’t do anything right and has a weird stutter and keeps looking around like the world’s about to end. Friends don’t flock to “that pup”, and I didn’t help things along much. I never took the initiative in forging relationships. Working out all the social rules was hard for me. Sometimes everyone would start laughing, but I had no idea why; or I get the sense that what someone was saying didn’t match up with the situation, but no one seemed confused. The worst part was discovering that no one else had problems understanding the hidden meanings in conversation or had any difficulty discerning what was meant in seemingly ambiguous statements. It was like there was this secret language that everyone used to communicate subtle things, or even to change the whole meaning of things, just with their eyes and face.

At the time I thought I had nothing. No friends, no talent, no future, no hope. Then at age three the kennel sold me to Lothar Bauer, a wealthy businessman in Frankfurt who wanted a pet for his daughter, proving my point. I had failed. That was the long and short of it. I had failed, and there was no going back to undo it. I felt crushed inside. They had spent so much time and money trying to raise me, and I just couldn’t get past some stupid panic attacks. It was infuriating and depressing all at once. I wasn’t even sure what emotion I was feeling, and I could hardly even stop it up like usual. Though my tears tried to leak out, I forced them down anyway. In a week I could no longer feel the pain of rejection and defeat. What I could feel was a new and different anxiety, as I began to realize just what being a pet in a wealthy family meant.

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Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:52 pm
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
Uh oh.... social anxiety now... a lot of issues. I can really relate to this character! :)

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Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:31 pm
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
Ditto, Copper. *hugs Heinz* if he were my dog, i'd call him my little brother, yessir!

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Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:25 am
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
So, apparently I forgot to post this week (not that I have a set schedule, just that I had no reason not to post this part). Whoops :lol:
Anyway, here it is: Heinz in a new place with the same problems. Again feedback is my friend. Let me know what you think.
-----

There is a place for everything, and everything is in its place. My place was to look sweet and dignified at social gatherings, demonstrating my owners’ fine taste in dogs. I was to be a companion for young Lena when she need one and stay mostly out of the way when she didn’t. When her friends came over, I was to be doted upon and called handsome and wag my tail in response. Had I not been taking every step like it might be my last, I would have been fine in this position. There’s really not much to do. The problem was that frustrating social issue I was having: I was never certain if anything particular was being expected of me. When people looked my way, was I to give some response that everyone else knew but I lacked? I was told to sit or stand beside Lena and not say anything at most functions, but if someone came to comment on what a fine dog I was, I felt like everything was suddenly focused expectantly on me. I would freeze up completely. What was the proper response?

Dinner events were the worst for me. Seated at the pet table, I was again subjected to the scrutiny of my peers. Anything I did was part of their first impression of me, and standards seemed extra high in that company. Worse was the understanding that judgment of me was no longer simply a reflection on myself, it was also a reflection on the Bauers. I looked at the many, many table settings trying to remember the training I had just gone through.

There are numerous things to remember about proper eating etiquette, and unlike in any other aspect of these events, here I was definitely expected to perform. If it had just been a checklist of things to do, I might have gotten used to it. Instead there are many rules that all are possible simultaneously, and one must be prepared to properly execute each item at any given time. Furthermore, I couldn’t simply opt out and not eat, else there would be comments from the guests. Though I had learned to control my panic attacks so as not to make a disturbance, the myriad of signals I was putting out were likely rather off-putting. Needless to say, it didn’t take long before the other pets kept their distance from me. The haughty contempt they held for me was always present on their faces. They never attempted to hide it, and soon it transferred to their owners. My dread of dinner parties exacerbated my anxiety, and I began to have nightmares about long tables with perfectly arranged plates and forks and knives and glasses in which I would bump something and cause the whole thing to ever so slowly fall apart while I could do nothing but watch in horror.

Mr. Bauer’s frustration with me was at once frightening and surreal. There was a fiery rage burning within him, but outside was his ever calm countenance softly explaining to me why I needed to do my best and work hard to achieve my place in society. Sometimes there were threats, sometimes there were personal attacks, mostly there was this odd cajoling to not let myself – and the implied everyone else – down. There’s a type of personality for which this would probably work. I happened to be of a very different personality type. Eventually I started seeing Mr. Bauer less as we both worked to avoid each other and by proxy my issues.

Amazingly, after four years of this, I actually got better at dealing with everything. I wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and I am certain that the only reason I remained in that household was because Lena adored me; but the more social functions we attended the more I came to realize that I was literally expected to do absolutely nothing. If people approached me they would only address Lena, and only she would respond. My sole job was to smile and wag lightly at anything they said. The handmaids learned that if they took me aside and went over every dish that was to be served, I could practice the correct steps to get through a meal without a panic attack. Even with the help dinner parties remained the most troublesome events, but the nightmares decreased.

However, businessmen must always seek out the best market, and in September of 1995 we began preparations to move to Sweden. I believe it should go without saying that my life turned completely upside down.

Though German is my mother tongue, I had been required to know some English, but it was mostly key phrases to show I was cultured and was rarely called upon because I tended to freeze up. Suddenly, however, German was no longer going to work well. The family all went through intensive Swedish courses via a private tutor, and I was expected to attend. It was, unsurprisingly, no more than three days before I was indirectly asked to entertain myself elsewhere.

The move to Sweden took two months, and the frantic changes were taking their toll on me. Not only was I relapsing into my anxiousness, I was becoming somewhat irritable – something I had never done before. I think I was tired of being the passive doll on a stand to show off and admire, and with all the craziness my frustrations started leaking out in little bursts of stubborn defiance. Amusingly, Lena and her friends were still young enough to find this trait adorable. Mr. Bauer on the other hand found it less endearing. What had been a relatively stable relationship built over the years on him mostly ignoring me and me mostly staying out of his hair turned into a strained relationship of carefully stepping around the major issues between us.

In the face of the mounting tension, old fears began resurfacing. My performance thus far had been barely passing, but I began to fall behind once again. While I had previously been trying to do the right thing and failing like usual, I was now purposefully acting out. As the anxiety rose I would miss an event here or there. Sometimes I didn’t eat at dinner parties. I actually threw a fit once. Mr. Bauer learned to become rather adept at explanations, and I was apparently “under the weather” rather often those last months. In response to my actions I was under more and more pressure to make up for my mistakes, and I could feel the added scrutiny.

This was when I learned what shame was. Not that it was new for me; I had been feeling ashamed of myself all my life. It had just taken a while to figure out what the feeling was. Everything that was happening to me was really my fault. If I could just do what I knew I was supposed to do, it would all be fine. I just couldn’t, and it ate at me. I would be walking down the hallway and suddenly remember one of my more recent screw-ups. That horrible gut wrenching would return and an involuntary whine would slip out. I even picked up the habit of bopping my nose to clear the bad thoughts out of my head. It actually became a nervous tick of mine whenever I wasn’t sure what else to do. It never helped, but I had no other escape from my own mind.

The last weeks until the move were torture as I seemed bound and determined to undo all my hard work at fitting in with the Bauer family. Lena would say, “Now, Heinz, you mustn’t hit yourself like that.” Then I would realize I had just bopped my nose again and in shame at messing up would impulsively apologize, “Sorry,” and bop myself yet again. She would giggle and facetiously reprimand me, “What did I just say?” with her little finger scolding me. Somehow, her giggle was never a bad thing to me. I drew a bit of comfort from it because it meant she was truly not displeased. Mr. Bauer, on the other hand, started a punishment regimen of scolding, isolation, and revoking of certain treats in order to curb the nervous tick. Suffice to say, this was ineffective.

Toward the end of November, we boarded a plane bound for Gothenburg, Sweden. By early December, everything had been moved and put in its place – including me. With the move came new surroundings, new scents, new staff, new people, new language, new opportunities to demonstrate my inability to succeed at any endeavour. Mr. Bauer became increasingly vocal about his displeasure but always to other people. I’d just “happen” to be in the room and “overhear”.

Things went rapidly downhill from there. By December I had worked myself into a tizzy, by January I was a sleep-deprived mess, and by February I was in full paranoid panic. Every step I took, I desperately hoped I wasn’t completely screwing up; and every sound I heard, I desperately hoped it wasn’t someone come to reprimand me. Even Lena was growing increasingly nervous around me. Never had I been so unmanageable. I could not keep my mind off the worry and recrimination no matter what I did, and the failure to do so would simply feed the dark thoughts swirling in my head.

The seventeenth of February 1996 I was left at a Swedish animal shelter, and a Swedish Vallhund went home to placate Lena. I almost can’t blame her. They are rather adorable dogs. Tough little dogs, but adorable. I probably phased out of memory in relatively short order. Three days later I celebrated my seventh birthday alone.

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Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:01 pm
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
I can relate to this guy! We should share an orange soda or something and talk things out....


Well, that was a sad ending. Good show, Sir! :D

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Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:20 pm
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
awm he's such an interesting pup!

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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
OK, now the stage is mostly set. We need one more character to complete things. Introducing Elsa.
Thanks for the comments and the helpful criticism from RolloftheDice. I am working to incorporate your advice a bit more in the part after this (which I am currently finishing up). ;)
Big "Thank you"s to Hukley and Tiggy for helping me with German and Swedish phrasing. :D
-----

It is not easy to describe the depths of my despair. All my fears had come to pass, yet it was my inability to cope that had led directly to their fulfillment. I tossed back and forth between misery and fury like a ship upon the stormy seas. I had to be kept in isolation because I was disturbing the other dogs and potential adopters as I railed against the Bauers, against my parents, against the kennel where I was sired, against myself. Most of the blame lay with myself, and I sobbed for hours on end matting my cheek fur and soaking my paws. Then like a switch had been thrown, I’d beat against the walls, the floor, the cage door, again and again and again with my paws, with my head, anything to drive out the guilt that was eating me alive. I was inconsolable. Three times in the first fortnight I was given tranquilizers for fear I would injure myself.

After a few weeks, as the rage was slowly spent from my system, a deep depression began to fill the gap. I was moved back out to the main room for adoption, but my motivation steadily waned. Even if someone were to walk through that door and decide they wanted me, nothing was going to change. I would still be a failure, and sooner or later they would send me away. I was forever going to float in a world of void moving from one place to the next but never home. I could not even find the will to be sad at the thought.

Over the next three months I hardly watched as people came and went. Any that did stop to look at me were soon driven away by my lack of response. It wasn’t worth getting tangled up in any more emotions, and I certainly wasn’t going to fulfill any of their dreams. On top of that, my Swedish was at the level of a young child, and I believed it to be nonexistent at the time. There was no hope for me. They would all eventually leave, best to drop all the pretenses and just send them on their way.

Three months is a long time to entertain such thoughts unabated. My eyes stared unfocused into the distance, and there were days at a time when I did not move even to eat my food. I ached everywhere almost constantly. Sometimes my ears didn’t even lift when people spoke to me. Such was my condition on the day she walked into the room.

By then I was able to recognize certain common phrases like “that one”, “he is so cute”, and especially, “Oh, okay” commonly heard before the speaker walked off to see another potential adoptee. Somewhere in the back of my mind I registered that this person who had just come in was speaking of me, because my name came up a lot in reference to “that one”. Still it wasn’t consciously on my mind even as the lady walked up to my cell and looked in on me.

“What’s wrong with him?” I vaguely heard her ask. At the time I had a general understanding that that was what the phrase meant. It was always followed by sad tones, and usually the “Oh, okay” followed soon after with the sound of disappearing footsteps. This time was a bit different.

“Hej, du borde le lite mer.”

While I was used to previously unheard phrases uttered at me and had learned to tune them out along with the following “He doesn’t speak Swedish” type of phrase from one of the workers, the next bit actually shocked me out of my stupor.

“Du sollst läscheln ain bisschen.”

There in the middle of a Swedish animal shelter in Gothenburg, Sweden with naught but the Swedish language being spoken all around me day by day was a person, a young lady, speaking to me in my mother tongue. It wasn’t quite perfect and was certainly more casual speech than two strangers meeting for the first time should use, but the meaning was as clear as day to me.

“You should smile a little.”

I turned toward her so taken aback that words came out of my muzzle for the first time in months, “You speak German?”

“A little,” was her slightly embarrassed reply. Her smile was warm and kind even as she fidgeted slightly and swayed back and forth. “My name is Elsa,” she said to me.

“I am Heinz,” I replied.

It was then that I realized where this was going. In a moment of weakness I had allowed a small bond to form. She thought she had reached in and touched a sad creature’s life and brought in some joy, but she didn’t realize the mistake she would be making to take me home with her. Just the thought of having to deal with being a pet again brought back the panic I had closed myself off from since I had arrived. It was welling up again like a terrible storm, and I shook my head violently to stave it off.

“Nein, nein, nein!” I yelled. “Sie müssen mich jetzt verlassen! Ich bin nicht gut! Ich will nur…”

I trailed off as a confused, uncomprehending look came over her face. Her German was only strong enough for short phrases, small conversation, slow speeds. I needed to explain to her that she could not take me with her. How was I to tell her what life with me would do to her? My failures would bring her nothing but heartache in the end, and then I would come back to this place again. I couldn’t deal with messing up one more person’s life with my stupidity.

In my desperation I searched my mind for any Swedish my brain could come up with. It came out like this: “You should… go. I… no, good. I… Please, no.”

She smiled again. I was certain the reassuring voice would soon be coming with the platitudes that, thankfully, would be mostly in Swedish, so I wouldn’t have to listen as she tried to tell me that I was what I truly was not. I was busy working on what more I could do to get her to leave me alone when she spoke again.

“Okay! Ech varsteehe.”

What was that? I did a double take, blinking in stupor. She understood? What did she understand? Now it was my turn to wear the confused expression. Out of all the responses the young lady smiling at me could have given, this was way outside of what I was expecting. What did she mean? “Okay, I understand. I’ll leave you alone now?” Yet, there was still a happy smile lightly resting on her face. Nothing seemed to fit.

Elsa turned and spoke in Swedish with one of the shelter workers while I pondered what was going on, and strangely, pondered how I felt about it. I knew didn’t really want to go with her. It was just a short-term desire to stave off the current loneliness, but that loneliness would return tenfold after she had to bring me back again. Still… Her confidant and radiant smile was sitting on my mind like a small ember refusing to go out. I thought I had smothered those emotions completely over the nearly four months in that shelter. It burned on yet – small but warm – in a little corner of my soul. I felt a deep unease with my own mental state.

She turned again to me, still with that smile, and told me quite simply, “Okay, it’s good! You come with me!”

I tried to retaliate, “No! I cannot come!” but she was having none of that. In the end, despite my resistance, and though the tears began to flow as the emotional build up came crashing down on me, I was led from the room and out to the lobby, where her parents joined us, signed the paperwork, and brought me to the car in an awkward silence. The stares of astounded onlookers never ceased throughout the whole process, and as I strapped myself into the seat, I felt the heat of embarrassment over my actions. I fell into a silent stupor again, letting the emotions and thoughts sink into the deep recesses of my mind as the car started up and we drove to my new home.

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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
dawwww, sooo kyute!! :D

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Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:30 am
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
Quite the insistent girl I see! Perfect fold for Heinz!

Nice trick she used there, heh.

A lot of internal monologue. Leaves little room for guessing. ;)

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Thu Jul 04, 2013 12:19 pm
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
I'm trying to figure out how to improve the quality of work. It's been troublesome. Heinz thinks too much :lol: I'm trying to show more action. Let me know if it's working.
-----

Home. The word was a bitter thought to my mind. Home was supposed to be full of love and a caring family, but all I could think of was a façade of happiness masking the terrible darkness underneath, a place of pretence and fakery where nothing was real. Even Lena had abandoned me. Love was a fickle friend, here today and gone with the wind. I couldn’t even pretend to myself that things would be better here, that I would try harder to not screw everything up, that I would eventually figure things out and settle in. No. My own mind was going to undermine everything I did, and there was nothing I could do about it. I had lost the battle against myself too many times to think otherwise. The only recourse against the panic I felt at the edges of my thoughts was the deep calmness of resignation.

I settled into the seat letting my mind float in the nothingness and began looking out the window to pass the time. The city itself was rather beautiful. It was a clear day, and the June sun was pleasantly warm. The buildings were lovely, the canals were lovely. Off in the distance the rolling hills were verdant and soothing. The ports along the Göta River were mostly quiet and peaceful for the moment, boats large and small lined the docks and the water was a steely blue. None of this really improved my mood, but it was nice to see the world again – especially the sun.

Still, I couldn’t distract myself from my problems for long. Soon, too soon, we would arrive at the Olsson house where new opportunities to demonstrate my little problem loomed large. With the thoughts of all that could go wrong creeping at the edges of my mind, the only thing protecting my sanity was that strangely calming sense of inevitability. I knew that eventually I was going to break down under the pressure, and after enough of that, I’d be taken back to the shelter. There was nothing I could do to prevent it, so I wasn’t going to fret over it just yet. It gave me a measure of peace in the midst of the storm.

Lingering at the back of my senses was the family talking throughout the trip. It’s funny listening to what you know is intelligible speech, but not being able to understand any of it. Some words in Swedish sound really similar to words in German, but it was never enough to figure out what was being said. I ended up tuning out most of their conversation as I gazed out at the city, except that my name kept popping up, and my ears would turn involuntarily toward the sound every time. Even though I knew it was pointless, I kept wanting to ask Elsa what everyone was talking about. It was frustrating to feel so helpless; however, at the same time it made my life fairly simple. I got to stare out the window and do nothing much at all.

Just as I was wondering if I should bother trying to ask for them to roll the window down, I started hearing a word that sounded rather similar to my own thoughts. “…fönster? ………fönster …………………….fönster?” My ears rose slightly, and I began glancing in their direction every so often. It was too similar to be a mistake, surely. It sounded just like the word I knew as window. I debated back and forth whether I should try asking about it. The knot of uncertainty was coiling in my stomach, and I felt myself curling up at the thought. Should I go for it? I might end up bothering them and then it would lead to an awkward attempt at an explanation across the language barrier. On the other paw I wanted the window down so I could smell the city, and that word was so close it couldn’t be coincidence, could it? Still, to think that they were concerned enough to already be contemplating whether I wanted the window down or not seemed a bit self-centered of me. They had their own matters to deal with – for instance, adopting a dog that didn’t even speak their language. My ears folded down again on that note.

Curiosity getting the better of me anyway, I turned to look at Elsa. She along with the others were throwing occasional glances my way with the same look of indecisiveness that I knew I had on my own face. Fönster, fönster, fönster was still getting passed around, and Elsa was chewing on her lip in uncertainty. Meanwhile I was unsure if I could even muster the courage to put a word out there. My paw slowly rose. Did I dare try?

“F-f-fen… fenster?” I asked timidly pointing at the window. Everyone suddenly stopped talking and perked up, surprised.

“Fönster! Ja! Fönster!” Elsa pointed excitedly to my window as well, obviously elated at this discovery. She was beaming. Such a trifle, really, but she clapped lightly and put her hands to her face giggling. I felt a small smile tugging at my muzzle. My overall situation hadn’t changed, my future wasn’t going to improve, but I could contain that smile. I had this understanding that I was witnessing pure joy such as I’d never seen before. I kind of liked it. It sparked something in me, deep down, and I wanted to see that joy on her face as often as I could.

As the giggling became more controlled, Elsa visibly contained her exuberance – but not the joyous smile – and asked, “Fönster… ned?” and pointed, in turn, at the window and then downward.

I got the message and gave a soft “Ja,” nodding slightly with my ears back in embarrassment as I looked away.

The excitement level in the car raised a discernible bit as they all began to chatter animatedly about this little triumph, or whatever. The window then lazily lowered with its mechanical hum, and smells began pouring into the car with the fresh air. I think I had originally wanted the window down mostly as a distraction, because honestly, with such a wide array of sensory input it’s hard to think about your problems. It’s rather therapeutic. I believe that if humans could just get on the open road and stick their heads out the window like we dogs do, they’d have a much better life. Alternatively the accident rate would increase tenfold, but you can’t always nitpick over little details like that.

Everything went fairly smoothly after that. I was, amazingly, feeling some excitement at the chance to explore the Olsson’s house; even if it was, I reminded myself, a temporary escape from the shelter. I still held on to that little bit of happiness in me. I hadn’t been able to find any in so long, I wasn’t willing to let it go just yet.

As we pulled into the driveway, I found myself struggling to reconcile the building in front of me with the word “house”. It’s not that I didn’t know that the Bauers were rich and most people lived in smaller houses than they did, but I still sat staring for a bit working to wrap my head around the concept that I would be living in that little building.

Just as an aside, the Olsson house is not particularly small, but my perception of most things was a bit warped at that point in time.

Eventually, however, we came to a stop, and everyone stepped out of the car and began ushering me inside the house. The first thing to hit me was that it smelled like the people who lived there. This was something I was not really used too, or at least not in such a pervasive way. It felt like they were all around me. The little ball of anxiety was building in my stomach again. It was like I would never be able to get away from these people no matter where I went. I almost felt like I was suffocating and began to edge back out of the house.

Having already gone inside, Mr. and Mrs. Olsson didn’t notice my antics, but Elsa was standing right next to me. She turned to look, and I wanted to curl into a ball and disappear. I wished the ground would just open up and hide me from her disappointment. I couldn’t have even tried to explain to her what was wrong, even had I known, myself, the words to say. Tears started to prick at the edges of my eyes, and my tail had wrapped around my leg like a young pup’s. I had been with my new owners for all of half an hour, and already I was going to show them exactly why they shouldn’t bother with me. It was a deeper crushing feeling than I had expected. I must have gathered too much hope from the window incident. Why had I let myself get so carried away? Why had I tried holding on to that bit of happiness? It just made the pain worse in the end.

She made a move toward me and I turned my head down, not wanting to see that face full of disappointment. As stupid as it sounded, I wanted to remember only that joyful face. Then I heard my name, “Heinz?”

I looked up, swallowing against the onrushing wave of emotion, and looking into the eyes of the girl who had taken me from my misery at the shelter, I saw a face I only vaguely remembered from my puppyhood. Klaus, the therapist, had given me that look as he told me of his dismissal. It was an unexpected, but deep concern.

There wasn’t a note of confusion on Elsa’s face. She knew something had been wrong back at the shelter, and she knew something was wrong now. Yet there was no disappointment either. I could not understand this method of thinking. I was messing up again. I was incapable of handling even the entryway to their house, and I couldn’t even keep the emotions inside. Anyone else would have been frustrated at having to put up with my problems or at least feel awkward and uneasy at my random breakdown. Instead, she was concerned, and I was stunned into a bizarre state of stability.

Elsa looked like she was about to say something, but then she remembered the language barrier between us. There was a pause as we looked at each other – her with a steady gaze of compassion, and me with an odd jumble of confusion and anxiety and pain. She told me later that it looked like I was calling to her; as if deep inside of me was a small puppy holding out his paws in a desperate plea for help.

A smile spread across her face and she held out one hand to me. No words were required between us, just this action. I will never be able to properly describe the eternity of thoughts and emotions that raged through my head, my heart, and my gut. My first instinct was to pull away, but I couldn’t. Nothing moved. Never in my life had I really trusted anyone, yet I found myself drawn to this young woman with the care in her eyes. I had never known how much I truly longed for that care until I saw it there on her face. My eyes darted between the ground, the sky, her face, her feet. I couldn’t give myself over just like that, could I? I looked down again, fingers fidgeting, toes digging into the earth. My jaw was clenched tightly as I waged war trying to hold myself back and throw myself forward simultaneously.

When I turned my gaze back to Elsa, her smile brightened. I don’t know how, but I think she knew at the time what I was feeling even better than I did. The silence in my head that followed was somehow deafening. I knew what I was going to do, and I knew that I knew, but I still had to do it. The seconds ticked off one by one as I stood there rooted to the ground with my paws clasped nervously in front of me, eyes focused on hers. Could I do it? I mean, obviously I could physically, but could I really do it?

Still, I knew I was going to, and as that knowledge settled an arm began to move. I looked cautiously at her hand still floating there waiting. Slowly my paw reached for that hand, and just as simple as that, rested there in the warmth. She took the opportunity to gently grab hold, and I looked up at her again. I had wanted to see joy on her face always, and there it was again. I must have smiled, at least tentatively, because she gave me a nod of encouragement and gently pulled my paw toward the house.

“I am here,” she said in her quiet yet confidant manner. I could have interpreted that phrase in so many negative ways, but I didn’t. I allowed myself to be pulled, step by step, inside the house, my eyes never moving from Elsa. She was like a light in the darkness, supporting and guiding me.

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Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:22 am
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
There is no need to worry about your story getting too depressing. Indeed, it's not a light reading. But you're showing your interpretation of a problem that is able to get out readers' emotions and make him feel the problem in many ways, or interpretations. From the point of non-native speaker, your writing skills seem to be more than fine. I would like to know English at the same degree as you.

I wish I was able to provide you more feedback, but after my downfall, currently I'm at the phase where I reorganize my self expression and weighing words.

I am glad you returned to writing, Obbl, after such long time. You have a lot of creativity potential . Your story is really fine and I hope you will update soon again.

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Sat Jul 13, 2013 7:34 pm
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
This keeps being beautiful, not depressing. One can see and appreciate Heinz's sincere attempts to cope with this new reality, with his inner demons. Great job as usual, Obbl!

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Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:48 am
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Smiley McSmiles
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
Well, Val, it gets more beautiful. :(
-----

The rest of the day was a blur. Owing to the difference in language, dinner started somewhat reserved before the conversation between the family members picked up a bit. I had a bowl of dry dog food in front of me and a spoon to my left – such a break from the traditional table settings of the dinner parties at the Bauer household that I couldn’t have put myself in my usual anxious mindset if I had tried. Instead I was in a more blank state of mind as I looked around the table feeling out of place. Elsa gave me little tidbits of the conversation whenever she knew enough German to get her point across, and each time I smiled; but it wasn’t the same as just moments before.

Elsa hadn’t changed. The situation had changed. I didn’t feel her presence like I did in the front garden. Here at the dinner table, I was alone, though she was not a meter from me. I felt the depression again. It had followed me from the shelter to this place to remind me why I could never fit in. I kept smiling each time she turned to me, but I was empty inside.

After dinner, she brought me upstairs to her room and, most importantly, her Swedish-German dictionary. It was there that I learned she was sixteen years old and liked reading books. Her father, Per, was a lawyer, and her mother, Inger, kept house and was active around the neighborhood helping to organize events involving children or something like that. We “learned” several tens of words in each other’s language that we couldn’t recall five minutes later. When it was my turn to share, I only told Elsa a little about my life, and she became rather upset to learn that the Bauers had left me even though I didn’t even know Swedish. It seemed extra cruel to her, and she fumed about it – mostly in Swedish – throughout the evening. I tried to explain the situation better: that it was my own fault, and even though it hurt, it made sense that they sent me away. I couldn’t end up finding the right words in that dictionary to fully express myself, and she went right back to ranting any time I tried. Why she bothered getting frustrated over my troubles remained a mystery to me. I ended up reluctantly letting it go at the time, but I still tucked the memory away to ponder later.

That night I lay in my basket. Elsa had taped a piece of paper emblazoned with my name in marker to its side and said she’d get a real nameplate the next day. Alone with my thoughts I couldn’t help but toss and turn as I struggled to come to terms with everything I had experienced in the past few hours. None of my problems had miraculously vanished. I was still the same dog I had been all my life. Elsa made me feel safe, but I realized that I was desperately grasping at straws to think that that changed anything. I scrunched up my face in frustration at myself. I’d been such a fool even though I knew better. Hope was just an attempt to mitigate the pain, but it only worked until reality caught up with you. I had let the hope build, and when it came crashing down, I would be all the worse for it.

Violently I turned from one side to the other, pulling the blanket with me. I wanted to let it go and get some sleep, but my brain kept slapping me with my stupidity and keeping me awake. Again, I bopped my nose, and then cringed at how ridiculous even that action was.

“Ugh!” I grunted softly into the empty night, and sat up in frustration. All the happy feelings from earlier seemed so pointless now. They were so momentary, so fleeting, so evanescent. I just wanted to scream! My fists balled tight and my teeth ground together. I felt the hot pinpricks at the corners of my eyes threatening to well up again, and I clenched them shut as I felt little sobbing breaths breaking through.

“Why do I do this to myself?” I quietly wondered, “Why am I so stupid?”

I tried keeping the sniffles soft and the breathing quiet. My throat was sore from being kept so tight to stifle the onslaught, and I nervously watched the doorway to the room. If Elsa heard and woke up, not only would I feel terrible, but then I’d have to explain, and she would try to comfort me, and I would just melt into the warmth and cling to that solace. I knew I would, and that was the worst part. It would just feed this never ending cycle of building up and crashing down and changing nothing! I visibly flinched at that.

Nothing would ever change.

It seemed so horrible and so horribly true.

I gasped at a pain in my paw, and when I smelled the trickle of blood, I realized my claws had dug into my pad from clenching too hard. The sudden shock returned a measure of control to my emotional state. I rubbed at my damp eyes, sniffing softly, before lying back down on my side and readjusting the blanket over me. I lay there wondering what I was supposed to do, hugging my tail to myself. Nothing would change.

I had tried everything to improve. Nothing helped. Instead, I grew steadily worse. What was the point of going through the motions and trying it out with this new family? Nothing would change. My future was as bleak as my current sorry existence, and this charade would only end in further heartache the longer it tried to hold out. I didn’t want to stay here.

I could have them take me back to the shelter now, but Elsa wouldn’t allow it. I could run away and go there myself, but that was dangerous and I didn’t know my way around. Blinking into the darkness I realized something else: I didn’t want to go back either. I didn’t want to be anywhere. There was a horrible sinking in my gut as I realized where this train of thought would end.

All this time, I’d never really thought of just ending it all. I remained motionless as the thought now pervaded my mind. It seemed so horrible, but nothing would change if I remained. Slowly I sat up and hugged my knees. My whole life had been one mistake after another, and the despondency that weighed me down was becoming unbearable. As horrible as it seemed, there was no point to carrying on with any other course of action. I fidgeted as my mind wavered back and forth.

Death. What a cold and lonely word. I cringed. The way there was even worse. As the myriad of possibilities ran through my mind, I felt spasms of revulsion in my gut. My head whipped back and forth in response to the agonizing considerations of pain and anguish. All the emotions began pouring out of me in rivers and silent screams. The more the thoughts invaded my mind, the more I came to the conclusion that I would never be able to follow through with anything. The ghostly feelings of sharp pains flashed across my wrists, my stomach, my neck, my head, and each breath was harder and harder to breathe in. I grabbed my head and held tight to stem the tide. Already my cheek fur was a mess of tears. I choked on my ragged breaths, and my knees were weak with trembling. Motionless, I stared down unfocused as my mind slowly unwound to a stable state of blankness, yet still the weight of existence pressed down on me.

Nothing would change, and I couldn’t get past my fears to do anything about it. Nothing would change, and I would have to remain in the dull ache of emptiness forever. Nothing would change. Little sparks of happiness would eventually fade. Were I to build a dam of hope against the crushing sea, it would be smashed, in time, leaving me to be swept away by the darkness of despair held back for so long. Though I saw no future, I was constrained by my fears to live a long and painful life alone.

Slowly I lowered myself again and put my head on the pillow. The backs of my paws were still damp from all the tears that had been rubbed away, to say nothing of my cheeks and muzzle. I lay still, leaving it all to soak and slowly evaporate. Bothersome though it was to let it be, there was no motivation left in me anymore. Nothing would change.

Thankfully the swirl of thoughts in my mind was dying down, and I soon found the one place where I could be at peace. Sleep. I closed my eyes to drift away, wishing that I would never return.

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Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:30 am
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
Every time I read one of these updates, I feel like hugging tight Heinz and whisper him words of comfort.

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Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:09 am
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Post Re: I Was Born Heinz
Well, it seems Heinz is opening up! Good for him. I am glad that they eventually get him into talking and such... happy endings and all.

Nice, poetic writing you have made here! Very expressive.

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Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:22 am
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