Saturday, February 7, 2015
First 5 Pages February Workshop - Levy
Sheri S. Levy
Moving to the downstairs guest bedroom tested my endurance. Every time my breathing slowed, and my eyes lids drooped, my eight-week-old, Labrador’s squeaky yelps rushed adrenalin through my body like a broken fire-hydrant, and my eyes snapped open.
I swung my legs over the bed, paused, dreading what I’d find. Catching my breath, I hollered, “Colton. I’m coming.”
In the laundry room across the hall, I blinded us by flicking-on the overhead lights. I blinked and Colton ducked his head. “Hey, little guy. I’m sorry you’re lonesome on your first night.”
His wispy, black tail whipped back and forth as he strained to set his short, front legs at the top of the baby gate. Like a prize fighter he tried again, and again, until he lay on the floor, whining.
I climbed over the gate, sat, and cradled his plump body in a tight bear hug. He crawled up to my face and licked me with a silky tongue. I buried my face in his short, black fur coat, stroked his velvety-droopy ears, and whispered. “Are you going to be waking this often, every night?”
His warm, chocolate-brown eyes winked at me.
I surveyed the newspapers covering the floor and scrunched my nose. “I’m guessing, you want a clean room, again.” I wadded up the messy papers and spread new ones on the swirled beige and rust colored tile floor. “All done! Let’s go outside.”
Colton’s paws clung to my shoulders as I cuddled him down the porch stairs and placed him on the grass.
He tucked his neck into his chest, chin down, unsure of his new environment. But in a short second, he lifted his head, darted left and right, and ogled me over his shoulder. He sprinted back to me, pawed my leg, and I carried him inside.
I placed a handful of kibbles inside his crate, “Night-night. Ple-a-s-e go to sleep.”
His face lay in the opening of his crate, and he fought to keep his eyes open.
Back in bed, I compared this night to Sydney’s, my first service dog’s night. He came to me at six months old, already trained, and slept through the night.
But Colton was a blank slate. And-I’d be his first foster momma, and his only trainer until he moved on.
If I could get a little more sleep, it’d be an easier day. What I am I thinking? It’s already ! I pictured chasing Colton in the hot, muggy summer air, teaching him new words, cleaning his messes, and then snuggling together. Before long, the sun leaked under my eyelids.
A quick glance at the clock, jolted me out of bed. The whiff of coffee told me my parents were up. Was Colton still sleeping? I tip-toed to the laundry room and peeked. Mom and Dad must have him.
As I entered the kitchen, Mom smiled. “Hi, sleepy head! Did you get any sleep last night?” My heart leaped to my throat. Neither parent had Colt.
I swallowed. “Nope!” I scanned the room. “Where is he?”
When Mom and Dad whispered a giggle, I gave them a curious look. Dad put his coffee cup down. “We heard you and Colton every time you got up, but we promised to stay put.”
I caught Mom’s gleaming eyes. “I know he’s your job, honey. But, I woke early and couldn’t wait to see him before I left for work. He’s yours from now on!”
“But where is he?”
Mom’s eyes bugged.
I frowned and my pulse raced. “I looked-in his room and didn’t see him.”
Playing follow the leader, I led us up the hallway and squatted in front of the crate. Under his gold blanket Colton hid, showing only the tip of his black nose.
I covered my mouth, silencing a laugh. After tiptoeing to the kitchen, I hugged each parent. “You guys are the best!”
Before I had finished my bowl of cereal, sharps howls erupted from the laundry room. I rolled my eyes and grinned. “Okay. I’m back on duty!”
Colton and I romped through the backyard. I wore out first, sat, leaned against a tree trunk, and threw miniature tennis balls from the shade. He chased them, chewed on each one, but wouldn’t bring any back. Excited to repeat this game, he bowed in front of me, whipped his pointy tail, locked eyes with me, and woofed, telling me, “Let’s do it again.”
Since I had to teach him not to bark, I trailed behind him, retrieving his balls, and tossing them before he made his demand. He was like a jet, zooming through the grass, never slowing down.
His ears raised at the clunk, clunk, of Mrs. Brown’s golf cart driving up the path to her paddocks next door. Colton stared toward the clatter, as I collapsed in the shade, and he slinked onto my lap. Snuggling, I whispered in his ear. “Mrs. Brown is bringing in the horses. You’ll get to meet her soon.”
He looked toward the hidden racket, lost interest, and chomped on a tree branch.
The simmering, sun crept higher overhead and the heavy humidity saved me from running for hours. Colton grew hot, enjoyed a quiet break, recharged, and then started all over again. But once he slumped in my lap and didn’t wake, I carried him to his crate, and he crumpled into a small heap.
“Whew. I thought you’d never wear out.” I went to my room to text, my once again best friend, Sarah, since we’d patched our friendship while on vacation.
Immediately she texted. “Hey. How’s Colton?”
“Call! Too much to text!”
My old cell phone chirped, and I told her in detail about last night. And ended with, “He’s full of energy, but he’s awfully cute.”
Sarah jabbered about Peyton’s texts and phone calls, her first time boyfriend from our beach trip.
I nodded, waiting for her to finish. “Do you want to go to the barn and see the horses? Colton’s down for a couple hours.”
“Okay. Meet you in ten.”
A grumbly, loud noise like a cement truck stirring rocks grew closer.
Sarah approached, yelling. “Hey. What’s that sound?”
“Sounds like a big diesel truck. Let’s get closer.” Hiding behind a large tree trunk, we spied the silver-gray, dually-truck pulling a white two-horse trailer with matching five gray-hearts interlocked along the sides. “That must be the new boarder. I forgot she was coming today. Let’s see what she’s like.”
The truck shifted, grinding its gears, as the driver slowed to turn onto Mrs. Brown’s drive. We hid closer.
Sarah’s voice screamed. “Do you know how old she is?”
“Mrs. Brown said she’s in the ninth grade.” As the commotion lessened, I whispered in Sarah’s ear, “And she’s supposed to be a really good rider.”
The engine turned off, and a tall, dark-skinned man leaped from the driver’s side. At the same time, a long-legged, skinny girl in black riding pants and shiny black boots stepped down from the front passenger door. The sun shined on her round, brown face, poofy bangs and ponytail, and flashed on her dressage whip, waving in the air as if it were a sword.
The girl’s raspy voice rang through the trees, “Dad, why’d you stop here? You’re too close to the barn. What the?--”
Sarah and I locked wide eyes. “Uh, oh. T. This doesn’t look good.”
I twisted a loose curl hanging on my neck. “You’re right about that.”