A little dog waits for his best friend.
|Wet. Sad. Shivering. Can only hope. I sit on a porch, waiting in a pile of muddy snow, trampled by many shoes. All I can do is wait and be patient. A light goes on inside. I wince away the brightness. My matted and dirty tail that used to be white swings back and forth feebly. A shock of red hair appears, and a boy, no more than 10, opens the front door, his mouth in a perfect O.
“Mom, it’s a puppy! Can I keep him?”
He names me Blizzard.
Long walks to the park, sleeping with Noah at night. Best friend. Love, love and more love. He throws a tennis ball in a perfect arc, and I fly, a small, white blur across emerald lawns, and return to him time and time again with it in my mouth.
Hunting expeditions: rabbits and squirrels that scurry from our path during walks. Training operations: I learn how to sit, stay, roll over, shake, and play dead. I’d be a perfect soldier dog except that I tend to get distracted easily. Ah! Squeaky toy!
Quick fingers sneak delightful morsels into my eager mouth under the dinner table.
Each day I wait, tongue lolling from the corner of my mouth, gazing out the bay window on my favorite cushion, waiting patiently for him to get home from school. The day goes by much too slowly, and the evenings and weekends with him are much too short. Joyful, perfect years go by.
16 year old Noah comes into the house with someone I’ve never met. She’s blond, pretty, and smells good. I immediately try to greet him by licking him all over his face.
He scowls and pushes me off. “Blizzard, not right now.”
He takes her by the hand, enters his room, and shuts the door in my face. Laughing and giggling without me inside. I slink off to my window and look outside with my head slumped against the burnished red cushion. Maybe later today he’ll play ball with me on those endless lawns of green. For the first time since we’ve met, he never opens the door to let me into his room. Even after she leaves, blasting noise emanates from his room interspersed with, "Turn that down!" from his mom.
I spend that night and countless others, waiting for him to snuggle with me once more.
18 year old Noah packs his bags into his Jeep and returns up the porch, taking two steps at a time. He bends down and scratches behind my ears exactly how I like.
“Blizzard, boy, I’ll be back. Take care of my mom.”
His mom wipes tears from the corners of her eyes. “Don’t be a stranger, Noah,” she says.
“It’s just college,” he says, but the tenderness of his hug belies his flippant words. I don’t know what college is, but it sounds like he’s going a million miles away. I wish he’d take me with him.
Noah’s dad walks me daily, and his mom snuggles me at night, letting me sleep at the foot of the bed. But it’s not the same. I spend a lot of time at the bay window, studying trees that would be perfect to force squirrels to climb, looking at the sidewalks that would take us to parks just waiting to be explored, but most of all, watching for my best friend’s characteristic sloped walk and fiery red hair to appear in the corner of my vision. Holidays and summers are too brief, but Noah treats me like a king during those times. He brings me extra squeaky toys and treats, sleeps with me every night, and spends hours playing and cuddling with me. When he gets ready to leave, I sit in front of the door, hoping to bar him from exiting with all thirteen pounds of my body. It never works.
My body is failing me, and I can barely see the verdant grass outside the house anymore. My joints ache, which prevent me from making my way to my favorite cushion by the bay window. Noah’s mother takes pity on me and places a set of stairs that lead up to the window. One particularly hard day, I can’t even use them so I curl up on the floor. I’m waiting. Always waiting. Dimly, I hear a familiar voice.
“Hey, boy! Blizzard? Where are you?”
Noah is here, towering over me with a tender look. At some point, he grew up. I overheard half of a conversation with his mother telling him that I didn’t have long.
He scoops me up in his arms and sits with me by the bay window.
“Hey, I got you, boy. You can look out all you want.” His voice is breaking, and his cheeks are wet.
I don’t want him to be sad. I lick him feebly and wag my tag gently twice as he takes me into his arms, and take one last satisfied sigh. He doesn’t realize that I don’t need the window anymore. My waiting is over, and my boy has come home to me.