As we pulled up my driveway, he appeared at my bedroom window and pulled back. I knew why he’d come. But I didn’t want the kid driving me home to see him and think it was weird. “Thanks for the ride,” I mumbled. Not many kids were willing to drive this far to take me home, but the carpool had been planned by our moms and he said he wanted to play pick-up football over the hill. I climbed the steps to my front door, my cheeks hot with embarrassment. “Lou?”
Unable to sleep, I check on Molly. Her small body huddles under the covers, dark lashes framing her peaceful face and Pooh bear tucked under her arm. I want to touch her soft curls and smell her breath, proof of her vitality. Ever since the accident, this vigil gives me comfort. That day began like any other. Dash, our Shepard mix, woke me with urgent pokes and when I didn’t respond, resorted to licking my feet. If only the dog could brew coffee and bring me the first cup. Thinking of the busy day ahead, I groaned, eyed the bright digits on my bedside clock and threw back the duvet. I saw Sam’s note: “I’ll pick you up at the office. Call your sister.” She had called three times without leaving a message, and I hoped for Sam’s sake, she wasn’t canceling. He’d planned a getaway to the coast and my sister was supposed to watch Molly.
Laddy loves to run away. Mama and I drive miles to find him. Some folks say he’s lucky to be alive, that dog, known to dodge tractor trailers, wrestle ‘possums, and nip the heels of cattle – apparently for fun. He often returns with a wet coat or fur so matted with prickly cockleburs I have to cut them free. Drives Mama mad. “He’s with Red again,” Red’s owner accuses. Laddy and Red love to run together. Only Red, the springer spaniel from across the way, allows herself to be caught by strangers with outstretched hands and good intentions. Not Laddy. By the time we arrive where Red waits, Laddy is long gone.