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At the Station

CTE Peacock is a former schoolteacher. She lives on the Delaware River, where bald eagles fly by and distract her from her writing.
They could have let her off with a warning. That's not what they did. The station was a madhouse, alive with noise, confusion, and air too thick to breathe. There was the press of hundreds of citizens desperate to leave the City in time. Handwritten signs read "Hold on to your children," "Personal belongings limited to contents of one backpack," and "Everyone must go through medical screening before approval to board the train." Then there was the sign that read "No pets allowed. No exceptions." She had ignored that sign, or perhaps she hadn't seen it, intermingled as it was among the crowds, the chaos, the cries of frightened children.
They found the little shih tzu during screening, in the medical bay. The woman begged to be allowed to keep her dog. It was tiny, less than 7 pounds, she told them. It didn't eat much, she sobbed. It was a service animal. She had a note from her doctor.
They didn't argue with her. They didn't reason with her. Didn't explain. It would have been simple enough to just put the dog out and let that be the end of that. But that's not what they did.
I managed to catch one final glimpse of her from the rear window of the last car of the train. She was sitting on the platform near the tracks, holding the little white dog in her arms. It was unlikely, but it seemed to me that even as the train pulled away from the station, I could see the tell-tale angry red blisters erupting on my wife's tear-streaked face.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020


I am struck by how quickly things can go sideways. One moment we are in a world we know and recognize, and the next....

Humans react by clinging to the familiar for comfort. Humans react with brutality in order to complete miserable tasks.

All we can do is try not to let them converge too often.

- CTE Peacock
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