It takes a lot of effort for Cornwallis to get up. Both Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection rush over to him. One opossum gets on either side of the dog, helping support him. Together, they shuffle over to the hole in the ground.
“There it is,” says Cornwallis. “My red thread. It’s about to snap. When that happens, I’ll pass on. There will be no place in the world of Presidential Pets for someone that cannot traverse through time.”
Mr. Reciprocity asks, “why does it look like that?”
Mr. Protection demands, “how long has it been like this?”
“Too long,” says Cornwallis. He tucks his tail between his hind legs. “I don’t know what happened exactly…I just know that, one day, it started to fray.”
Mr. Reciprocity says, ‘you should have asked for help! We – “
“Are busy with your own life,” interrupts Cornwallis. “And your own problems.”
With a whine, he sinks back down. Not even the opossum brothers can keep him up.
“We’ve been acting just like the youngsters,” says Mr. Reciprocity. “So caught up in our own lives, we haven’t been keeping track of each other. Well, I don’t know what started this mess, but I sure know how we’re going to fix it. Are you with me, brother?”
“Until our own strings snap,” says Mr. Protection, solemnly. The two walk right to the very edge of the pit. They’ve been working with each other long enough that they don’t have to stop and discuss their plan. They just have to move.
Mr. Reciprocity drops forward, hanging over the edge of the pit. Mr. Protection turns around and twists their tails together. As Mr. Reciprocity inches further over the edge, Mr. Protection shuffles along with him, keeping his brother from falling into the red strings and the endless pit.
Cornwallis yelps, “what in the name of the Room are you doing?”
“Fixing things,” says Mr. Reciprocity, firmly. He can tell by sense which string belongs to him. He grabs it with one hand, then grabs Cornwallis’s fraying string in the other. “Just you wait, my friend. We’ll get you back to full health in a jiffy!”
“That’s right,” says Mr. Protection. “We might have missed the signs that something foul was a foot, but there’s no way we’re just going to sit around and let things go down this path! Not when there’s something we can do!”
“There’s nothing we can do,” says Cornwallis. He pushes himself up, frantic. “You’ll fall!” Cornwallis’s ears perk up, and his tail tucks that much further down. After a moment, though, sounding totally hesitant, he asks, “do you think it will work?”
Katelynn E Koontz – Author