Monday, April 22, 2013

1st 5 Pages April Workshop - Levy Rev 2

Sheri Levy

MG- emotional-contemporary

Dog Days of Summer

Chapter 1

Sydney and I wrestled in my bedroom until I giggled so hard my insides ached and his barking made me deaf. I crossed my arms on my chest and said, “Freeze!” He stopped in motion, panting. His head tilted sideways, eyes glued on mine, waiting for the next command. I always made sure Sydney got to be a regular puppy. Even when he became someone’s service dog, he’d still have playtime.

Momma’s voice boomed through the door, “Trina, are you packed?”

“Sort of.” I gave Sydney the release word, “Okay,” and he pounced at me. I threw my arms around his neck, buried my face in his red, brown and white-freckled fur and breathed in his fresh vanilla scent. My stomach did cartwheels. Can I survive this next week? His trainer’s words echoed in my mind. ‘Trina, you’ve done a terrific job with your first dog. He’s ready to return to my kennel for his final months of training.’

This week at the beach would be my last with Sydney.


Using the bottom of my pajama top, I wiped the wetness from my eyes. T-shirts, shorts, and socks lay scattered across the floor. I scooted my desk chair through the mess and into the closet to retrieve my duffel bag. Sydney followed with a smelly sock hanging from his mouth.

While separating last year’s summer clothes into two heaps, my dirty pile grew larger than the clean, minus one sock. “Syd, where’s my sock?”

He darted into the closet. Strutting out, his little stub of a tail wiggled as he dropped the wet sock on my lap. “You’re so smart Mr. Syd.” Everything he did was a game.

Staring at my small stack of clean clothes, I shrugged and looked into Syd’s golden eyes. “You won’t care if I wear these a few times, will you?” His tail jiggled.

I dressed in my regular jean shorts and concert t-shirt with the words PINK & PURPLE swirled across the front. It was something Sarah, my best friend, and I always wore on special outings. The front of my T was purple and the back pink. Hers was just the opposite. Three years ago our parents attended the band’s concert and surprised us with the shirts as souvenirs. As eight-year-olds, we wore them as nightgowns. This last year, Sarah had grown so much hers had gone from a nightgown to a t-shirt. Mine was a long T. But we still looked the same.

Minutes later I hollered, “Momma, Dad’s loading the car.” Inside the garage, Sydney’s floppy ears drooped. During his year with me, he’d learned the duffel bag signaled a trip somewhere and he wasn’t always invited. “Surprise, Sydney. You get to ‘Go.’” His mouth stretched over his teeth like a grin as he turned in circles. Skidding into his learned ‘Sit,’ he waited for the next command.

His eyes locked with mine. Pointing at his face, I counted one thousand-one, one thousand-two, one-thousand three in my head, and then said, “Okay!” He leaped to the backseat. I climbed in and nuzzled his forehead with mine. This year we’d explore a dog-friendly beach and I’d make Sydney an expert water dog.

Dad drove us down the street to Sarah’s to caravan. Going up her driveway, my eyes widened. There she stood; dribbling her soccer ball, wearing a baby-blue tank top layered over a green one with lace at the bottom. They matched the blue and green sea shells along the cuffs of her white shorts. I gasped. She must have outgrown her PINK & PURPLE shirt entirely.

She looked bizarre kicking her soccer ball in such a fancy outfit. Darby, her black and white Springer spaniel, chased the ball, barked and wagged her stub of a tail. Sydney and I wedged our heads out the window. “Wow. Where are your soccer clothes?”

“Gone.” She tittered, fluttered her eyelashes and twirled, flinging her blond French-braid. “Mom took me shopping.”

Her eyes matched her top, but I kept that to myself. No reason to add to her new coolness. Ready for the beach and not a fashion show, I didn’t let on my bathing suit was under my T-shirt and shorts. I doubted hers was under those new clothes. “Are you and Darby riding with us?”

“I will. Darby can go with my parents.”

“Won’t she be sad not to be with us?”

“Naw. It’ll be easier for me to relax.” She climbed in with her backpack. “Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Ryan.”

“Hi, Sarah.” Momma turned around. “You look very pretty.”

Sydney wiggled onto Sarah’s lap, but she gently pushed him off. With her head bent she said, “Thanks,” and plucked dog hairs from her clothes.

The air conditioner gusted, the windows whirred going up and the radio blared. Dad backed down the driveway saying, “Let’s hit the road.”

“Yay! We’re off, Syd.” Excitement spiked through my arms and legs like electric currents. His front legs stretched across my lap, putting weight on my thighs. He sensed I needed calming and practiced his technique on me. “Sarah, remember last year? How we buried each other in the sand. That was so much fun.”

“Yeah. But this time, I just want to lie on the sand and work on my tan.”

“Well. That’ll be fun for a while,” I said, scratching behind Syd’s ears and squirming in the seat. “Then maybe we’ll learn to surf? Or boogie board? Even ride a wave runner?” My eyes pleaded with her.

“Hmm... First, I’ll have to feel how cold the water is and see how many jellyfish are on shore.”

“Okay. But you know I can’t go to the beach without swimming.” I sighed, stroking Sydney’s back. “The realtor said this house was kind of old, but right on the beach.”

“Oooo! Being on the beach will make it easier to walk up and down.” Sarah’s eyebrows rose and gave me a sideways smirk, “And we can meet guys.”

I choked. “So-we-can-do, WHAT?” I stared at her as if she spoke a foreign language. Before blurting out something crazy, I caught my breath and remembered back to the last day of school, only four days ago. Sarah and her class friend, Tyler, had huddled in a corner, talking and passing pieces of paper. “But Sarah, this week is supposed to be about you and me and our dogs.”

“Oh. Trina. It’ll be the perfect place to meet guys. No one will know us there so it won’t matter if we goof up and say the wrong things.”

I scrunched my nose.

Sarah unzipped her pink backpack and pulled out a pink cell phone. “Look. Here’s my fifth-grade graduation present. Or should I say my going-into-sixth grade present?”

“Wow. Let me see. Why didn’t you call me?”

“I just got it when we went shopping. You were busy with Sydney so I waited to show you. I could’ve texted you if you had one, too.”

Leaning closer, I whispered, “It’s almost my birthday. You never know.”

I tapped Momma’s shoulder. “Look at Sarah’s graduation present.”

Momma laid her book on the seat and turned around. “That’s very nice, Sarah.”

“Thanks Mrs. Ryan. Everyone has one in middle school.”

Momma gave me an apologetic smile and returned to her book. Sarah handed me her phone over Syd’s head. It chimed, so she jerked it back. “Just a minute.” She leaned over and started texting. She typed and giggled.

Pretending to read my book, Socializing Your Australian Shepherd, my eyes kept flitting back to Sarah. Sydney moved between us and slept on the seat. Then the realization hit the pit of my stomach, Sarah’s different.


  1. The changes you made are just right. Best of luck in the future!

  2. I think you have a great start. Great job on your revisions and best of luck with this. It's a lovely story!

  3. I love this story. Such great conflict and bewilderment for this age group and the coming of age changes. I wish you great success with this:)

  4. It's a darling story. The contrast between Trina and Sarah is clearly shown and what propels the story for me. =) I wish you the very best!

  5. Congrats on your strong start! This promises to be an engaging story.

  6. This is just wonderful Sheri! I don't have any additional comments. Best of luck!