A Small Tragedy

Anne Beach

I looked Buddy in the eye, taking my familiar spot beside him in the cemented over portion of the yard that had become his run. He had a devilish humor in his dark brown eyes. He wagged his furry curled tail and made a half bark through his whiskery face. He looked like a grumpy old man, and at 17 years old he was a grumpy old man. His teeth were nearly gone, a filmy whiteness had crept over his eyes.
“You’ve always been there for me,” I said, leaning my head against his. “Never die, I don’t think my heart could take it.”

A flurry of tails wagged as the herd of children my father affectionately had called the Beach Brood stepped through the grimy grey walls of the local Humane Society. All varieties of dogs and puppies surrounded us Beach pups as we picked them over one by one.
Each was a possible addition to our new home and our overgrown family.
The two dogs barked as if they’d never known they could, both jumping and flipping, their floppy caramel ears occasionally tripping them up and sending them face forward into the wire fences that separated them from their prospective families.
“These ones,” I cried, having adored cocker spaniels ever since I saw Lady in the Tramp. If I could not have a bulky Dalmatian, then I needed these dogs.
My mother stood frozen, her hands clasped before her chest, a look that was a mixture of warmth and sadness in her eyes.
“Buttons,” the paper on the crate read, as well as listing the relevant information about the forlorn, cowering, silent mutt within.
My dad wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “Buddy sounds better.”
My mother nodded.

“I’m afraid,” my mom muttered, shame facedly, as she pushed me out the backdoor of our home and into the barren wasteland that was our backyard in the hottest days of summer.
“It’s really cruel of you,” I said, scathingly, “to have your child check to see if the dog is still alive, even worse when you make me check on grandma.”
“I don’t handle death well.”

I felt my knees give way, a cry tore through my throat; I couldn’t contain the feelings that had been held within my chest in the two minutes it took to enter the house. I collapsed in the doorway of the house from the back yard. I couldn’t feel anything but the pressure of my cries in my chest and the weight of my heart sinking to the ground.
“You’re crying like someone has just died!” My mother screamed as she ran into the room, she froze in horror as I looked at her, my cries now whimpers as I looked for the words.

A flurry of tails wagged around me, four dogs behind me, and two still wagging their tails back home with my mother. The atmosphere seemed cheery, welcoming, and happy, despite the whines and cries of all the abandoned souls around me.
A pair of tawny brown eyes stared up at me, little stubby legs pushed up against the wire door of the run, quiet, sullen, and sad.
“Cecilia,” my boyfriend read, looking at the paper on the door and reading the relevant information on the paper.
“Pepper,” I stated, wrapping an arm around his shoulder, “she looks like a Pepper.”

I pulled the tiny little wiener into my arms, her black and tan elongated frame trying to weasel its way out of my tight grasp. The speck of blue in her brown eyes mirrored my blue eyes with their own speck of brown. We were meant to be in one another’s lives.
Her tail wagged furiously and her entire body shook with it. The whiskery fur around her face gave way to what I interpreted as a devilish and manipulative grin. I rolled onto my back, still grasping her tightly. I pressed my nose against her ears and memorized the musky smell that was distinctly hers.
“Dog ears smell great,” I said with a nuzzle. She flipped onto her feet still in my arms and charged at my face with his long pink tongue. I giggled and gagged as I tried to escape the fishy odor that poured from her mouth.
I looked into her eyes and saw the unconditional love that she had for me.

“Never die,” I whispered, “I don’t think my heart could bear it.”