No tomorrow, no tomorrow
And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad"
"Mad World" ~ Tears for Fears
There were a few of us in the backyard, talking about whatever was going on inside and looking out over the lake. The grill was fired up, but not quite warm enough to cook.
Jerrica laughed and said something, Otis glancing up at her with open adoration that only puppies can must on this Earth, face partially concealed within those wise puppy-wrinkles.
Maesi sniffed at the far side of the yard, testing at the grass on the fenced side of the yard. I watched her carefully: she’s usually pretty good about staying near us, but lately, with the addition of Otis, she’s taken to jogging away from us, keeping just out of reach, as dogs are wont to do.
Talking to the group around me, motion caught my eye: Maesi had looked up suddenly. My attention tracked to her and then to where she was looking. Seeing nothing, I looked back.
There was a tension running along the thick, black fur of her flanks – she was getting ready to run.
We keep her leash on when she’s running free like this. While she’s good at keeping her body (especially her neck and collar) far away from grasping human hands, she never considers the leash dragging four feet behind her. At those times when she chooses to run, this extra four feet and a foot landing on it, can often be enough to arrest a potential escape.
Almost on command, Maesi was gone, rushing past me, leash just missing my stomping foot. She tore around the unfenced side of the house, making a bee-line for the front yard and the open world beyond.
I’m fast, but no match for a dog. I jogged to the corner just in time for her to tear around the corner again, in full dog-sprint, past me and back into the back yard.
My neighbor was grilling in his backyard, too. Seeing the commotion, he grinned, raised a can of beer in his hand – a salute. One of his friends looked up, too, following his gesture, but their own world was a yard away, and that’s where their concentration was focused.
Jerrica reached for Maesi’s leash as she rushed past, trying to get ahold of the big dog before she could round about and head out to the front yard again. I watched as Otis’ leash dropped from her hand and she clutched for Maesi’s leash. She missed. Barely.
Otis, caught in the moment, took after his older sister, tiny puppy legs pumping to keep up with her; small mouth filled with sharp puppy-teeth trying to find purchase on one of Maesi’s trailing legs.
Maesi took an angle and shot past me again, heading for the front yard at a speed that seemed unreal. Trying to stomp on her leash as she went by, my brain was just registering the fact that our eight-week puppy was now free to roam.
Otis rounded the corner, slipping into the front yard. They both disappeared out of site, me trying to close the gap and failing miserably. I was sprinting, bellowing out for Maesi to stop, to come, to sit, to do anything but run away.
Maesi was on the far corner, across the street, grinning at me from the sidewalk, leash trailing behind her. She was panting, but that dog-grin was written wide across her face.
Otis, on the front lawn, looked back at me and did what all puppies do: ran across the street.
And I saw the SUV coming: a huge GMC Suburban – a monstrosity of metal coming too fast on the neighborhood street. They saw Otis, but it was too late.
The brakes squealed a little bit, but somehow I was able to hear the front passenger-side tire go over Otis’ back legs; his squeal raking its way down my brain and lodging somewhere in my heart.
The brake lights on the Suburban went off, but I had closed the distance with the SUV by then, I pounded on the back window, just above the wiper; screamed at them to wait – Otis was still under the car, just behind the front tire.
I was sobbing at this point – the little dog had grown on me, that sweet little face and those intelligent, almost human-looking eyes. I fell to my knees and reached for his tiny body.
If I could just get him to a vet, he might not walk again, but he’d be fine. He’d be fine.
But the SUV hadn’t gone over his legs – it had gone over his head. But that wasn’t right, either: I had seen it, I had heard him cry out. My thoughts were mostly washed away, but still try to make sense of it.
A dream. A fucking dream.
We didn’t have a lake in our backyard, what were we barbequing for? Inconsistencies began to worm their way up as consciousness drifted back to me.
I clawed my way out of it and reach across the covers of the bed, Jerrica deep in sleep beside me. My eyes focuses on the red numbers projected across the ceiling – 2:12am. A deep breath; my fingers find the short coarse hair of Otis’ side, quite fine and asleep on the bed.
I sit up and lean towards him, shifting him onto my lap and petting him until the dream melts away. I take a ragged breath and his eyes open to slits.
He lets out a sigh and snuggles into the crook of my arm. I breath deep a few times, letting reality exert its flow into my thoughts. I lay back down and shift to my side, pulling a large sigh from Otis.
Sleep doesn’t come for a while, but my heart slows and hurts less.