29 March 2011


Joanie stared out her kitchen window into her back yard.  The dog was still there, walking in circles, sniffing, constantly searching.    He lifted his massive head and looked in her direction.  She shrank back.  Miles came up beside her.
“Mom, can I please go play with him?”
“No, Miles.  I don’t want to have to keep telling you and Cathy that.”  She scrutinized the dog.  “Why is he terrorizing us?”
“Mom,” Miles said rolling his eyes.  “He’s not.  He just wants us to play with him.”
“Miles,” Joanie said facing him.  “You need to find something else to do.”
Miles walked off, grumbling.  Joanie threw a quick glance back outside.  The tent’s side bulged where the dog lay inside.
Last Saturday had proved a brief respite from the wind and wet.  She conceded to let the children erect their tent.  The tent had remained unused since its purchase last fall.  The kids played in it until the first drop hit.  They fled for the warmth of the house.  The tent was forgotten.  

The next morning, the dog was there.  He had sought refuge in the tent during the worst of the squall.  He stood guard in it all week, never seeming to sleep.  His hair was matted and his muzzle caked.  Her husband Tom wouldn’t call the Human Society to pick him up.  He claimed they wouldn’t come during a storm.  Joanie had found bowls in the dishwasher she had not used.  Leftovers disappeared quicker than expected.  It was three against one and the dog was winning.
But now the storm was letting up.  The dog never strayed far from the tent.  She couldn’t keep the kids in for too much longer, cabin fever abounded. 
The doorbell rang.  Cathy let their neighbor Alice in and pointed her to the kitchen. 
“Morning Alice.”  Joanie said, peering out at the yard.
Alice came up next to her and followed her gaze.  “Oh, the Alexander’s tent.  I didn’t know you bought that.”
“Alexander’s?” Joanie asked, joining Alice at the table.  “No, I bought that from the Taylor’s.”
“Right, at the yard sale.  The Alexander’s gave everything away when they left town.  The Taylor’s kept it for sentimentality but their new condo doesn’t have any storage.  I am sure they were thrilled the tent went to a family with children.”
Joanie turned to Alice.  “The Alexander’s?  You mean the couple whose son…  “
“Mm-hmm.  Seven years old.  So sad.  He just ran into the street to call his dog back.”
Joanie walked back to the kitchen window.  The dog was still there.

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