A dead friend revisits.
|Written for Taboo words. Word count 646
It is almost impossible to explain how I felt that day. The atmosphere as I walked through the smokey air that late afternoon was something I’d never experienced.
It was as if I had no say, no choice but to be there.
The sun had dropped behind the hills, leaving colours in the sky an artist would find difficult to replicate. It was as if I had landed on another planet from the one I’d inhabited my entire life.
Was it because of my deep, unrelenting sadness, everything seemed so alien?
And yet I continued on my walk. The same walk I took with my dog most afternoons in the Australian bush near my home.
But today was different, strange, awful, because I was alone. Tears slipped slowly down my cheeks, but still I trod the same well-worn path through the ancient eucalypt forest.
The sadness I experienced was complete, overwhelming.
The days leading up to this had been full of mixed feelings.
We had been visiting our son in Far North Queensland. A trip we had planned for months.
The flight had landed in Cairns late evening, and we’d checked into our hotel at midnight. The following day we were to get a connecting flight to the remote town where our son lived.
No sooner had we dropped our suitcases on the floor of the hotel room, giving sighs of relief the long flight was over and we could get some rest, the phone rang. It was our daughter calling to inform us that our dog, who she was caring for, had been in an accident.
She was calling from the veterinary hospital and said the vet wanted to speak to us.
The news wasn’t good.
Having to give our credit card details to have our beloved dog, Mitzy, euthanized was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.
We continued with our vacation with heavy hearts. Planting a tree in our son’s garden, in memory of our faithful friend, eased the pain a little.
Arriving home, the death of my friend hit me hard. Where was the usual exuberant welcome? The kisses, the excitement of seeing us again? The house was silent, Mitzy’s basket empty, emphasising our loss .
At our usual walk time, I took the dog leash from its hook and left the house with a heavy heart.
A mist seemed to appear from nowhere. I sniffed the air. There was a strange smell, a mixture of smoke and sulphur, reminiscent of Autumn, fireworks, and bonfires. Yet when I’d left home, the air had been clear.
Walking our usual path, I spoke silently to Mitzy, apologising for not being with her when she would have been afraid and in pain. My sadness and guilt were complete.
It was then I heard a distant bark. My heart almost broke. It was a sound I’d heard daily for so many years. I raised my head, listening for the bark again. The mist swirled around me, the visibility poor.
A dog appeared out of the gloom. I gasped. From that distance, it appeared to be the dog I’d loved and cared for such a long time. It came ever closer, wagging its tail until it was standing next to me.
This beautiful animal, the one I’d rescued from a puppy farm, so unique in colouring and markings, was here, close enough to stroke.
“Mitzy? Is it really you?” I asked.
She looked me straight in the eye, let me fondle her, rub her ears and shed tears over her brown body.
After a while she cocked her head, as if a master in another realm was calling her. Giving me one last look, she turned and walked off into the mist.
I never saw her again. But I know she came to say goodbye.
This is a true story.