Julius Vincent Fen had a big, grand, and very old name for a small, dirty, and very unfortunate fellow. He was loved only by the very same woman who bore him into the world. His defective mind and body were shameful to his father's seed, so the father of Julius Fen made himself a rarity around the boy.

Julius Fen did not perform well in school. On many occassions, his mind refused to grasp the material taught to him. While all the other kids could talk, run, and play, Julius was still trying to master his first words. His teachers persuaded Julius' other to remove him from schooling, but Julius remained a happy child anyways.

He seemed oblivious to his parents' many arguments, his mother's tears, and his father's slurred words and unsteady stature when he returned home late at night. These things didn't falter the happiness of Julius. He was always joyful and always trying to help.

But Julius was terribly unwanted.

When the boy turned nine years old, his mother brought him a present- the only one he recieved from anyone in his family. Julius became over excited as the beautiful red box with a white bow was placed in his hands. He didn't notice the holes in the top of the box, nor did he take any care to how much the box weighed. In his mind, the box could anything his heart desired. After all, it was a real life birthday present.

Finally, the gift was opened. To the delight of young Julius Fen, a squirming puppy with golden brown eyes tumbled out and greeted him with loving licks and yips of joy.

"He's a bloodhound, Julius", his mother explained tenderly, "He's all yours. Happy birthday, sunshine."

Julius held his gift with great adoration and held it tightly to his chest. The tiny bloodhound squealed loudly, and out of surprise, Julius released his hold, sending the puppy crashing to the floor.

A scoff was uttered gruffly from the kitchen table where Julius' father sat watching the scene unfold. Julius' mother put her arms around her son protectively.

"I already damn told you", growled the father, "Julius would kill the mutt. He can't handle his own self, Miriam. What the hell made you think he could handle a dog?"

"Calvin, please, he is your son!", Miriam cried.

"That boy is no son of mine!", Calvin roared. "If you had any goddamn sense you'd put that boy in a ward where he belongs. You'd pack your bags and we could start again somewhere our name isn't tarnished by a retarded boy you made!"

Miriam would cry that night like she always did when her husband yelled and said horrid things, but she would never leave. She would always go back to their bed, and they would "start again". However, this was never, and could never, be enough for Calvin Damian Fen. They would go to bed, but in the morning the boy Julius would be there, ruining the good, prosperous Fen line. A Fen had etiquette, charm, intelligence, grace in the ladies, and strength in the men. A Fen was ambitious, a mountain mover.

Julius, with his blank stare, open mouth, and clumsy brain, was not a Fen, and Calvin Damian Fen would never, could never, accept him as his own.

As Calvin and Miriam slept, without anyone watching, the bloodhound puppy silently crept into Julius' room. After hiding from the boy's crushing clutches, the dog had been thinking his quiet animal thoughts. The hound could see quite clearly that there was something different about the boy who opened the box. The dog sat watching Julius sleep and thought that maybe it wasn't just something "different". Perhaps instead, there was something "special" about Julius.

After thinking on these things, the hound (who was actually a bloodhound mix instead of pure blooded as his breeder had said) climbed easily into the boy's bed and curled up at the feet of the special boy.

Julius felt the puppy stirring at his feet and woke up. Upon seeing that the dog had forgiven him, he excitedly announced to the world his new friend's name- Thyme.

Gently, he stroked the dog's ears and said his name over and over.

"Thyme, Thyme."

Each time Julius said it, his smile became brighter and brighter. Thyme smiled, too, happy to have a wonderful master like Julius.

Nobody really knew it because nobody saw and nobody heard, but Julius knew exactly what he meant when he named his friend Thyme. Julius was still working hard on his speech skills, and to him, "Thyme" was the exact same as "Mine".