Content Warning

Greetings and Salutations.
Because my stories have bite, they can contain content that isn't suitable for work or children. Not a lot of truly graphic sex or violence, but there are some questionable or heated posts. F-bombs are not uncommon, so watch your footing.

Friday, January 11, 2019

#FridayFlash - Rehoming

"Welcome to Hope Ranch," I said, opening the gate wide enough for the women in their car. It seemed they heard me; they offered larges smiles as they drove through.

I closed the gate while they parked, though I wasn't worried about any of my animal wards escaping. Even mere potential familiars were aware the ranch was a sanctuary and willingly stayed on my property.

A dozen animals waited on the porch; cats and dogs lined up beside a raccoon and a fox, all calm, patiently waiting for me to join the two women exiting the small car. The younger woman, Katerina, stared at the animals, but the older woman stared at me with knowing eyes. Stared through me.

They were clearly related, though Katerina was taller by at least a foot. She appeared to be in her mid 40s, old enough to be my mom, and her companion was much older, though still spry. Katerina's hair was a glossy black in a braid, the older woman snowy white in a tight bun. Dark eyes and straight noses concluded their matching features, and I guessed they shared Rom blood.

What could they possibly want with me?

"Your home is more beautiful than I thought, Celeste," Katerina said, finally turning from the line on the porch. I had just enough empathic senses to know she was surprised and impressed, but I sensed nothing deeper. I was much better at understanding animals, even mundane ones.

I held out my hand to shake when I got close enough. "Thank you. And thank you for your interest in my animal rescue. You're the first to respond to my posting." Not that I was trying hard to be noticed. A normal person didn't have what it took to care for the special animals I protected.

The older woman joined us, her eyes narrowed. "You don't have to hide. We know what you do."

She meant it, and not just that I rehomed animals like an ordinary no-kill shelter. She understood that I was a sensitive, not exactly a witch or psychic, but a little bit of all of that. With enough power to take care of sensitive animals, provide them enough of a connection to make up for the bond they lacked. Familiars that had lost their master, or been replaced, or that merely had the potential but had yet to find a master.

"You're email said you wanted to help," I said, my gaze moving between them. No need to continue my sales pitch or pretend they were just normal investors for a mundane sanctuary. The animals on the porch broke formation, some of them joining us. "What would you like to do?"

The raccoon sniffed at Katerina's ankles, and she knelt to pet it. "Gramma Ethelinda saw your post, and she said she hadn't known there were so many lost ones." The raccoon leaned into her touch, chittering with joy. "She told me to email you."

I looked at the older woman; three of the cats circled her ankles. Her need to know my past was nearly palpable, an urging through all my extra senses to understand why I'd started Hope Ranch.

"There are too many abused and abandoned animals in this world. Not enough love for the innocent creatures, though there's plenty to go around. I started rescuing the neediest from animal shelters, trying to get them good forever homes if I could.

"But then I realized some animals were special, different, just like some people. Like you and me. Familiars, lost, confused, feeling the pain of abandonment stronger because they were touched and aware.

"I couldn't leave them to suffer, so I started focusing on them. It breaks my heart to have to pick and choose, but there's only so much I can do." Tears welled, and a Labrador leaned against my leg to comfort me.

Ethelinda took my hands, smiling softly. "You continue to find these lost little ones, we will find them new homes." She pulled me down to kiss my cheeks, and my heart lightened.

One person could make a difference.