I'm going to post installments of a little novella, A Walk with Rose, that I'm working on. Every couple of days, I'll put up a new piece of the first act. Act II is started but on hold until I get done with my novel. Once I finish that, I'll be finishing this novella and put it up on Amazon as a Kindle book.
I will be donating 25 percent of the proceeds from publication to the local Humane Society. If you want to purchase a copy of the whole work then, send me an email at thatguy at paulduffau.com and I'll put you on the list.
A Walk with Rose
Everybody makes mistakes. On January 13th, Laura Fitzpatrick made two. The first, made at 2:47 PM, was forgetting her purse. She remembered before she left the driveway and rushed back into the house, leaving the driveway one minute late. She made second mistake after picking up her daughter from elementary school. At the only stoplight on the street, she braked to a hard stop in the left hand turn lane when the light turned yellow, a light that she could have made it safely. Eighteen seconds later, at 3:18 PM, an elderly man driving north blacked out, swerved and, his car accelerating under his convulsing foot, smashed into the front passenger side of her car. Laura was uninjured.
Her daughter was not; her right foot was mangled by the crushing steel of the oncoming vehicle. Paramedics arrived swiftly, gasped, and started feverishly working to save the girl’s right foot. She was loaded into the ambulance and rushed to the hospital. Left at the scene of the accident was one small pink shoe, blood-soaked.
On January 13th, Mrs. Joy Williams passed. Roy, husband of 52 years sat on one side, holding her hand, not crying because she had asked him not too. On the other side, resting her head on the bed sheets was Joy’s dog, Rose, friend and helper as she met this last stage of life.
Her son, James and daughters, Anne and Marie, waited in the living room, sitting on the dated couch and love seat, eyeing the knickknacks that lined shelves, recognizing gifts given in childhood, the wall of pictures, faded blacks and whites in old-fashioned frames, color pictures of the kids as they grew, marriage photos, and grandchildren’s school pictures. Joy always brought visitors to the wall.
A gentle squeeze on Roy’s hand, a single finger lifting on the other hand to give Rose one last scratch under the chin, she passed, quietly.
“That’s an awfully brave girl you have.” said Shelly above the racket from the kennels. The dogs, seeing people and wanting out, barked and whined. Somewhere in the back, a hound howled, the deep “Ahhhhwoooooo” echoing through the building. They watched as Ellie, brown hair pulled back in pigtails, leaned on her crutch as she made her way down the aisle between the dog kennels.
“Yes, she is.” replied Laura.
Her voice was soft and Shelly had to strain to hear her. Months ago, Shelly’s statement would have led to tears but Laura had no more. Eleven year olds should not have to be brave. Four surgeries in six months had exhausted her and Galen as they watched their little girl, tiny in the hospital bed, go through each procedure. The doctors had explained, choosing their words with care, that they, the doctors, could do no more for Ellie. They asked if the family prayed.
“She doesn’t cry anymore.”
Shelly looked at her sympathetically while watching Ellie. The young girl stopped at each kennel, peering through the chain links of the gate.
“You took the survey?” she asked Laura.
“The one they gave us up front?” replied Laura. “I let Ellie fill it out. It’s going to be her dog.”
“Is Ellie going to be the one taking care of the dog?” probed Shelly. Too often, the shelter had gotten dogs returned because the parents discovered that the kids didn’t follow through with the work of caring for a pet and the parents were already overwhelmed with careers and children.
“She says she will. If not, I’ll help.” Laura smiled at Shelly. “But thank you for the warning.”
Shelly nodded. Ellie might be different, she thought, but it never hurts to bring it up.
Ellie reached the end of the kennels and started back to her mother in a rocking hobble across the concrete, swinging her right leg but unable to support any weight on it.
She looked up when she reached the adults.
“So which one do you want?” asked her mother.
Ellie paused, brown eyes looking up to Laura. She shook her head.
“My dog isn’t here yet.” And she turned to leave.