Useful

There are days when my writing flows out of me naturally, as though the story that I’m telling has existed all along, and the right words are there, ready to be written. Then there are days, like today, where I struggle to find a story at all: where there seems to be nothing in my head worth writing, and the words don’t flow, and everything that I end up putting on the page echoes with a general disharmony.
I promised myself that on days like that, I would write anyway, and so I have. Does writing ever get easier? Probably not. It’s not an easy thing. I just wish I could more often find that space where the writing is right.


To be useless is to be worthless.

My mom taught me that. Her mother taught her before, and hers taught her, and on back into the great depths of our ancestry. It’s a common thread in the teachings of our species. It’s not specific to our family. If you’re not useful for something, well, you might as well not exist.

There are many different ways to be useful. My mother taught me that, too. You don’t have to work really well or even have good skills for the Humans to appreciate you. If you’re cute, the Humans will like having you around anyway. If you’re cute and nice, you can just play with their children, and they’ll be happy with you. That will be your use.

I like being useful. It makes me happy, and it makes the humans happy, too. I’m not very strong or fast, though, so I don’t get to do the real work like hunting or pulling sleds. My mom says that’s okay. I’m very cute, and my fur is very soft, and I’m very nice. The Humans like to have me play with their kids.

This makes the Humans happy. Their children get exercise, and they smile and laugh while we play. They learn to be leaders by teaching me games. Sometimes they teach me new games, but most of the time, they teach me games other children have already taught me. I pretend to be learning anew, because the Humans don’t like it when we are too smart.

The Humans want us to be smart enough to listen to them and to understand, but they don’t like it when we think too much, or talk too much, or when we seem too smart. That’s the only thing I don’t like about the Humans. I think I’m pretty smart but I don’t really get to show it ever.

My aunt had a litter once and they were all very smart. My aunt was very smart, too, but in a way, my mom says, she was stupid. She taught her kids to read. Mom doesn’t know where my aunt learned but it doesn’t matter. The Humans found out and they ate my aunt and her children.

This was okay, because being eaten is just another way to be useful, and we like being useful above all else. Most of us get eaten at some point, because according to my mom that’s why the humans started keeping us around in the first place. They used to hunt us, but then they realized that they could train us, and we wouldn’t run away. They taught us to like helping them.

In some ways I look forward to the day I’ll be eaten. In away, it’s the ultimate expression of usefulness. The Humans take us inside them, and we become a part of them by nourishing them and making them stronger.

Sometimes I feel like, when the Humans eat me, I’ll be at my most useful. Others help the Humans do their work. They help the Humans hunt wild animals, and pull heavy things. They help Humans who can’t see or walk or hear have an easier time getting through their days.

I play with the Human children, and I bring them happiness. This is good, but it’s not as good as what some people do. I feel useful, I think. I know that I don’t feel entirely useless. I just wish that I felt as useful as some others.

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