I hope the New Year finds you all well and rested! Apparently I just had a cold last week—not Covid, according to a rapid test at least—although I had another brush with “that darn virus” over the weekend. I await my body’s verdict on if it will take hold or not. With omicron sweeping the country, it becomes more and more likely we will all contract it at some point, alas.
I got a new calendar (yes, still old school there, also known as JUST OLD.) You’ll be happy to know today is National Spaghetti Day. Mangia!
That brings us to this week’s FREE read, Episode 7 of Imagine: Life on a Chain. Mom Comes Home. If you’re new to the story, start HERE and follow the links at the bottom of each episode to find the next.
Imagine…Life on a Chain
Episode Seven: Mom Comes Home
The End of the End
Two weeks went by in a blur of sadness, always waiting for Dad to come home from the hospital, always hoping for good news that didn’t come. Even Dream—the more even-keeled of the two—was losing her equanimity, often snapping at her brother.
Neither said so, but fear dogged their every waking moment, invaded their sleep.
“How long has he been gone this time, Imagine?” Dream whined. “Why does he leave us alone every single day. He doesn’t feed us the way Mom does, either…we’re lucky to eat once a day. Thank goodness we have the doggie door, or we’d be making a mess in here, for sure.”
It was Imagine who played peacekeeper now. He rolled onto his back next to his sibling, rubbing his face along her ear. “I think he’ll be home soon, Sis,” he said soothingly. “Want to go in the yard and play ball? It’s a nice day.”
“Who’s gonna throw it, Immy? In case you didn’t notice, we’re the only ones here.”
“I’ll throw it to you! And then I’ll chase you for it, just the way you like,” Imagine cajoled.
Dream smiled begrudgingly. “Fine, but get the new ball. Your slobber grosses me out,” she teased, then got to her feet and trotted out into the yard.
“Incoming!” Imagine yelled as he whipped his head and released the ball toward the edge of the fence; Dream raced to grab it before it took a bad hop and disappeared from sight. Imagine was proud of his throwing ability . . . he’d taught himself in the “before days”—happier times when each morning brought new promise of adventure with his little family.
He sensed those days were gone.
“Dream tormented me about my ball obsession,” the dog remembered fondly, scratching his ear in tacit acknowledgment of the fleas already taking their blood breakfast. Dream would tire of the game quickly, as did Mom and Dad, so Imagine had taught himself—tossing the ball up into the air and catching it . . . over and over and over again.
“I never could get enough of that ball,” he sighed sadly, looking around at his empty, dirt-packed home. Not a ball, or any toy for that matter, in sight. How many years had it been since he had a ball? He couldn’t even remember anymore.
Suddenly Dream stopped dead in her tracks. “Immy! I hear the car! Dad’s home,” she cried, rushing past him and in through the door. “Maybe today will be the day he’s happy again,” she called over her shoulder to her brother.
Imagine shook his head. He didn’t think that day would ever come.
Afraid to hear any more bad news, he dawdled in the yard, pretending he had to re-mark the property boundary to keep intruders out.
“Well, that boxer next door needs to learn some manners,” he rationalized, grumbling to himself. “He’s always daring to stick his snout through that hole in the corner of the fence. He’s just lucky I’m a gentleman,” he huffed as he reluctantly took himself into the dark of the rec room and up the stairs to the kitchen.
Before he reached the top of the steps his gait quickened. What was that he heard? Could it be? Was that Mom’s voice?
It was coming from the living room!
Heart pounding, he charged into the room and ran smack into Dream, knocking her over. Neither dog said a word, though, as they pulled themselves together.
Both had eyes for only one person.
It was Mom, sitting small and seemingly shriveled in the corner chair, the good one, the one they never used. Her eyes met his, and he was struck by memories of his goodbye with Star. For in the eyes of the human he now knew as “Mom,” the one who made him feel safe and loved and kept his belly full, he again saw both sadness and resignation.
The only difference was that this time he wasn’t confused by the look—he understood what she was telling him: “Hello and all too soon Goodbye, my love.”
Tamira Thayne is the author of It Went to the Dogs: How Michael Vick’s Dogfighting Compound Became a Haven for Rescue Pups. She’s also written other books for adults and children, including these for adults: Capitol in Chains, Foster Doggie Insanity, The Wrath of Dog, The King’s Tether, The Knights Chain, and The Curse of Cur. For kids of all ages she’s published No Guppy Puppy, Raffy Calfy’s Rescue, Spittin’ Kitten’s Speed-Away, Squirmy Hermie’s Heroics, Smidgey Pidgey’s Predicament, Happy Dog Coloring Book. She is the editor of More Rescue Smiles, and co-editor of Unchain My Heart and Rescue Smiles.