A letter from my dog

Dear Queen, I am writing this to let you know how much I appreciate you pulling me out of that hell hole of a shelter in Manhattan. I heard them whispering that my days were numbered and then they took me for a long ride and there you were. I could tell by your eyes that you weren’t sure whether I was going to bite you or not because you didn’t know me and I never saw you before. I am glad you let me stretch my legs before you helped me in to the truck for another long ride. I think you knew my stitches hurt so you picked me up gently and helped me in. I watched you from the back floor of the truck and you stroked my head so softly and handed me bits of food. I was hungry but hurting so I didn’t eat much. Once you showed me my new home and my new sister and those hairy beasties you called cats? I took a nap and for the first time in a long time dreamed happy thoughts. We are coming up to one year in my home. Do you think that would be considered my birthday then? I hope so….I love presents. I know sometimes I do things I’m not supposed to but you’ve been around me long enough to know that I love you and don’t mean to be bad. You don’t yell at me but I feel bad anyway. Besides, my sister instigates a lot of it but I think you know that too. So for my birthday I am writing you this and send it to you with love. I know you always ask me as you look into my eyes and kiss the top of my head what I’m thinking about so I guess I should tell you…..I’ve been thinking for a while for what to say so here goes:
1) I love it when you come home from work and rush to your throne. I know then you can’t go anywhere so you must sit there and pet me and love me….I love it when you get home.
2) I love it when you give me a biscuit when I come in from outside when you call me. I come right away, sister on the other hand…..well, she’s just bad and likes to wander. Sometimes I hide under the deck so you worry but then I pop out to surprise you so you give me extra treats. I love treats. Milk bones are great but I love those big marrow ones you give me sometimes.
3) I love to sit on the stairs in the dark so that you can’t help but to find me. I know you get excited because you shout out as you stumble down them. I like that game Queen. I try to play it with you every morning. Sometimes I wake you up in the middle of the night so we can play that game some more.
4) I like the King too. Ok, I love him but not as much as you. I like it when he gets up first in the morning so that I can jump on the bed and snuggle with you. I am sorry sister got jealous this morning because when you cried out I know she scratched you bad but you didn’t yell. But what does “Get off me you fool…f’ing idiot mean?” I was confused but sister seemed to know well enough.
5) I love the cat box. You know that too. I am sorry I ate them all and you had to block them off. Did you know that if the cat is in there going, sometimes you can push on their head like a pez dispenser and more goodies pop out? Yeah….I like when there’s more goodies but I come to give you a kiss to show you how good they smell. You wipe the litter off my nose but I don’t understand why you won’t kiss me…don’t you like cat cookies? Ok, I’ll eat your share.
6) I love being a swimmy dog in the pond. I have learned how to dive and catch the stick. I know I don’t bring the stick back to you but I like to decorate the yard with them. I see you keep at least 7 of them on hand so that you don’t have to play fetch the stick too….I know the King gets mad when he hits them with the lawn mower. Then he isn’t a merry old soul. Nope, not at all.
7) Can we get a step stool for the big white box that has good stuff in it? Can you show me how to get in there? I see there is lots of stuff because I pay attention to details like that. I really like cheese….and meat…..and carrots….and eggies…..can I have some beer too? Nope? Ok, no stool I guess.
8) I love when you kiss me goodbye every morning when you leave. You hand me the biscuit and kiss me on the head. I don’t know why you tell me to behave, I’m a big girl and I know this now. I guess that’s why you are the Queen. I’ll just nap on the couch till you get home or chase the furry cats….you should see what they do when you’re gone….that is another tale.
9) I guess I’ll finish with 9, 10 just takes too much thought. I am thankful you saved me. I love you as if I’ve lived here forever in the castle. I hope this helps you to understand that everything I do is out of love for you. I know you love to wash carpets, and pick hair off of your clothes and I love how you love me too. All of my deepest love and covered with wet kisses and dog biscuits. Your girl Apple.

the ghost of a boy

The ghost of a boy
I am a creature of habit. Every morning I go through the same motions, drinking coffee and slowly allowing my brain cells to come to life, to surface into a daybreak reality.
I drive to work the same way every day. I like to think I could do it blindfolded as I have travelled this path now since 2004, varying it only slightly for people who tailgate me as rushing throws off my rhythm. I live in the country, where farms dot the landscape and wooded areas are plentiful. I see fox and deer, skunks and the occasional rabbit, occasional as they are controlled by the fox. I pass the same houses, the same cars that pass in the opposite direction as they too must travel the same path time and time again. The man with the red Jeep, I look into his eyes daily. His glasses thick, his Jeep always clean. I pass the houses where the children wait for their busses. Year after year they grow, and I do not know these children but with each passing year they become less and less as they grow and move past school to college, to be replaced with new children at other houses. The house with the puddle always in the road when there is no rain. The little yellow cat sits with the boy and girl as they wait for the bus. The cat is tethered to a line attached to the house. It does not seem to mind. I do not see the cat any longer, or the girl. They are both gone. I only see the boy, but he was not there today. Where is the boy? Sick? It is Friday; maybe he will be back on Monday.
August 1998. It was one of those warm seasonal mornings. Just another day of the same routine, wake and drink coffee and go. I sing when I drive, I do not know if I mentioned that but it is unimportant anyway. I remember being in a good mood that day as I drove along the same stretch of road, I was the only car and I was not in a hurry. I do not like to be rushed. A car appeared behind me, from where I do not know. It was not a familiar car and it rode behind me so close I could see the young man behind me, so impatient yet he did not pass. The road is straight and you can see for a mile. I do not know why he drove like he did, I only know I did not like being rushed so I made a turn that still takes me to where I am going, but not my normal path. It adds on approximately two minutes to my commute which is not a problem as I am always early. I would not let him mar my mood. I chose a different path.
I came back out onto my path farther up the road. I passed the red jeep so maybe it wasn’t two minutes delayed, or maybe he was late that day. The sun was up now, the morning beautiful I remember thinking. My windows were rolled down. My spirit was in a good place.
I came to the house with the puddle. I did not see the boy. I did not look for the cat. I saw the cars and the girl with her hands up to her face in shock. She was crying and wearing a black dress or robe as she stood on the side of the road. There were cars pulled off to both sides of the road. This was not a place where people would park on the side unless there were a party happening. That early I knew this was not right. There was an elderly lady with an old blue car. I looked at her face and she was sad. A man in the road waved me through telling me to go slowly. He was not police or fire rescue, only a man in the road waving me through. I saw a shoe in the road and what looked to be fur everywhere and blood, chunks and blood scattered to where you slowly weaved in an out to not disturb what lay in the road. I did not see a body and wondered if it were deer or raccoon. It was too hard to tell any longer. I looked in a yard farther down and at the base of a tree lay a motorcycle with its wheel still spinning. Not a Harley, but what I call a crotch rocket. But the wheel was still spinning. I did not see a body. It was very surreal. Almost like a slow motion movie that you were waiting to see what happened but that you were actually a part of it. It is haunting. It is ghost-like.
Later it occurred to me, that had I not turned when I did, I would have been there at the moment it happened. Maybe the deer would have hit my vehicle. Maybe the motorcycle and blood would not have been in the road. Maybe that boy would not have died. I ride a motorcycle. I do not drive the 18 mile commute because there are a lot of deer. I almost hit one this morning. It is what brought this story back to me as it does every time a deer runs in front of me.
Is it survivor’s guilt? He was 23 years old and had a family. He had parents and many brothers and sisters. He was someone’s boy, someone’s son. He is buried down the street from my house. He is always so close. I did not know him. I do not know his family. I only know that he is no longer.
Fate came along to intervene. The plan was set in motion and had to be brought to fruition. I am here as testament. I am sad. I wished I would have done what I always did and not have let that driver bother me. But it was meant to be.
I drive by there every day and most days I do not think of that day but today I felt a calm presence as I drove past that house. The school bus waited with the yellow flashing lights but no one came out. The bus stood in the spot where a boy died. The reflection of light and the steam cast shadows. I like to think it was the ghost of a boy saying go peacefully. Go in peace.