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There are a thousand ways to begin a story, but this isn't a beginning, nor is it an end. This is just important. Period.
That brisk and chilly Saturday in December, when the world was heaving up and cleaning itself out for the coating of snow that was sure to come any day now.
Later in the day would be the Christmas Parade, a cheery ensemble full of sturdy draft horses, precious Clydsdales, and bells merrily ringing and attempting to hide that fact that once again, Mass street was being soiled.
I cautiously entered my mother's room with a brush in my hand and a hairband on my wrist. There was no telling what my mother's mood would be today.
"Will you braid my hair Mom" I asked. This sparked a very rude No, and an arguement over yet another pointless thing she chose to make so much harder than it needed to be.
Suddenly, my step-dad burst in the room in nothing but his underwear.
"Is the dog in here?" he asked, out of breath. My two year old pure-bred runt Boston Terrier Olive, was the worlds' biggest spazz, and a little escape artist too. The arguement was immidiently forgotten in favor of a bigger issue.
"Was the door open?" my mother asked, concerned.
"Wide open." I leapt up and ran downstairs. I slipped on my worn out black flats, almost too small for me now but there was no time for laces.
My mother was already outside, waiting for me.
"Hurry up and put your shoes on," she grumped irritabley.
She went right, starting to head down the street that ran beside our corner house. Not knowing what to do, I began to follow her.
"Go the other way!" for some reason everything makes my mother mad these days. I wasn't mad, just full of sick worry and terror.
I jogged back the other direction, so set on finding Olive that for the first time since she had died, I walked directly past where my cat Mable had been hit by a car earlier in the year, just inches away from where my feet were. But I didn't think about that.
A flood of horrible scenarios flashed through my mind as I reapeatedly whistled and called for my beloved dog. Olive, running into the busy street, the yelp as she got hit by a car, Olive lying in the road...
No! I couldn't think about that! I had to find her! Everything else left my mind as panic set in. I didn't feel the cold even though I was in a T-shirt. I didn't care about any cars hitting me. All I wanted was to find my dog.
I took a left down a shady street, but didn't make it more than ten feet down. My mind was tugging at me, telling me that logically, she was probably down there. But somehow, the rest of me wasn't so sure. I stood there, practically paralyzed with fear. Then I headed back up the street once again whistling and calling Olive's name. I made it to the corner and the mailman pulled up and leaned out of his square white truck.
"Are you looking for a dog?"
"I saw a dog down there," he said, pointing in the direction of the busy road that ran through North Lawrence. "Pretty close to the highway."
"Was it black and white?" I breathlessly asked? I didn't wait for him to answer though, I made it the rest of the way to the corner and pulled out my cell phone.
"Did you find her?" came my mother's hurried voice at the other line.
"No but the mailman said he saw her down by the main road," I said. "You should come and-oh! I just saw her! She's down by the main road! Come on!" I hung up the phone and stuffed in my jeans, already running across the street. A small spazztic flash of black and white had darted across the road at the end of the block, and the mailman was right, she was very near the busy road.
I started to run. I know I'm not exaggerating when I day that I am the least athletic person I know, but I was running so fast now I couldn't feel my feet hitting the pavement beneath me. Now, I was running with purpose; not laps in Gym class, not being chased by a zombie at Worlds of Fun, I was running to save Olive's life, and there was no way I was stopping for anything.
I made it to the end of the road, and heard a barking to my left. There was Olive, hidden by a large tree at the curb. She stood with her legs wide apart and barked at me. Olive may be small, but she is fast, faster than any drag racer can ever brag about being. She had made my step-dad run down the street in his underwear at seven o'clock in the morning once, who else can say they did that?
I was desperate though, and my desperation made me strong. Strong enough not to feel the cold biting at my bare arms, strong enough to run with the wind and not feel tired. I leapt and grabbed Olive with one hand part on her leg, and the other on her shoulder. Any other day, any other circumstance she would have gotten away. I wouldn't have been able to hold her and she would have been gone like a fly that you can never seem to hit. But like I said, I was desperate, and I grabbed her collar, and pulled her towards me.
Once I had Olive in the street, I lifted her into my arms, and cradled her there. Safe. That was what my mother saw as she rounded the corner: me, my heart pounding, my legs aching, but holding the dog in my arms, kissing her on the head, and knowing that it was going to be all right.
"How did you catch her?" my mother asked. I just shrugged, but I know how. I think that deep in her heart, it was all fun and games for Olive. That somewhere in the crazy heart of hers, Olive really did want to come home. And that's what really matters, isn't it?