“Charlie?! Thank God you’re alive! Wait, what are you doing here?!” I blurted out in one breath. “I knew it! I knew that our neighbor had something to do with this! Don’t worry Charlie, I’ll get you out of there.”
I ran home, my head boiling with a thousand thoughts and questions about how we were going to get Charlie back. At least he’s okay, I thought, trying to calm myself down and devise a plan. There was only one answer. Grandpa. Oh, he is going to get so mad. I could perfectly picture his reaction to the news. His face would turn red like a tomato from anger, his veins would pop out of his forehead, and he would jump off the chair and scream, “How could he?!” I knew that he had a feud with our neighbor, and he would probably get in a fight with the guy. We didn’t and still don’t like the neighbor because of a long and tiring disagreement-that has never come to an end-about our property. The neighbor had continuously demanded ownership of a strip of land at the back of our house, and ever since this argument started, we don’t get along with one another. I knew what my grandpa wouldn’t like this situation but he was the only solution to it; otherwise, I would have to say goodbye to my puppy and look at him longingly every time I passed by my neighbor’s house.
As soon as I got home, I ran to my grandpa and before I could say anything, he inquired:
“Have you seen Charlie?”
“That’s what I was going to tell you. I saw him on the way from school. He’s in our neighbor’s yard,” I confessed bitterly. It meant only one thing - the neighbor stole our puppy and would never give him back. He hated everyone in the neighbourhood.
“I knew it! I knew it!” he screamed in anger, and his whole face turned red from the raging emotion. “We need to do something,” he added calmly, and then talked to himself, “But what shall we do?”
I shrugged slightly and waited for him to say something. Impatiently I cracked each finger on both hands several times, then I got up and paced up and down the room. After walking in circles for what felt like an eternity, I decided to sit down because all the worrying and the walking made me dizzy. I began thinking that he didn’t even care about Charlie anymore. After thinking over and over about what to say to him I finally blurted out, “Grandpa, what are we going to do?”
“About what?” he shook his head as if he tried to rid himself of the thoughts in his mind and looked at me cluelessly.
“About the puppy!” I screamed desperately.
“Oh, right, the puppy,” he responded, coming back to his senses.
“Yes, the puppy.” I pointed out annoyed. “What were you thinking about?”
“What was I thinking about?” he asked hurriedly. I nodded in agreement, “What was I thinking about?” he said lightly with a soft laughter, “The puppy, obviously.”
“Right,” I added doubtfully, “So, what are we going to do about Charlie?”
“We are going to sneak in his house and get Charlie back.” he sighed heavily, “Obviously.”
“And how are we going to do that?” I questioned his plan.
“You are going to sneak in the house,” he answered with a laugh, “What else would we do?”
I choked on his words, already thinking about the terrifying experience. Scary thoughts filled my head, but there was nothing to do. My grandpa had said the final word.
As I made my way to the small opening in the back of our house, I started panicking. My heart pounded rapidly against my ribs, as if it wanted to break through and be free. I couldn’t breathe properly, it felt like as if a lump in my throat that prevented the air make its way to my lungs or letting the oxygen travel to my brain. I couldn’t think straight; the world became blurry for a second. Slowly, I closed my eyes, concentrating on deep breaths: Breathe in… and out… in… and out, I told myself, filling my mind with positive thoughts, and pushing away the negativity. You got this, c’mon, concentrate on Charlie. Think about how happy he’ll be. As I forced myself to walk towards the small hole on the wall that connected our house to the neighbor’s house, my legs started trembling, they were failing me. I crouched down slowly, making my way through the small hole in the wall. It felt as if I left the safety of home and I stepped on a mine field, where I felt exposed to death.
My mind went blank, making it easier to concentrate on my task. I felt as if I was walking through a labyrinth, and every step I took would take me closer to the end. I didn’t know if the end meant freedom for both, my puppy and myself; or the death of me. I looked around, only to see an enormous, empty field in front of me. I never knew that the field would be so big. I knew where the neighbor’s little cottage would be, tucked away in a corner of the field, where he wouldn’t be able to see a crazy, ten-year-old girl, running across his property like a chicken in panic.
As I ran across the wide field, the tall dry grass and the spiky wild thors were piercing my legs like sharp knives. It didn’t take long for my legs to become numb, they were stinging from pain, blood dripped from the fresh wounds, making its way down my cold legs like salty tears. My hands were sweaty but cold as ice. For a split second, I imagined myself being in one of those James Bond movies, where the good guys sneak in to rescue the captive from the bad guys. I ran next to the surrounding wall of the house, afraid that someone would spot me. Even though I got tired after running for a minute, I didn’t stop to catch my breath. All I could think about was how I sucked at PE and how my skinny legs that resembled sticks were useless in these situations.
When I got to the little cottage, I crouched down in fear, not wanting to be caught after going what felt like hell to get to my puppy. I tried to catch my breath in small intervals, scared that if I breathed too loudly, my neighbor would hear me. I could feel the back of my neck burning from the sun setting behind me. Sweat trickled from my forehead, making its way down my face, but I couldn’t bother to stop and wipe it away. The neighbor could come out in any second, and the less time I spent in his house, the better it would be for me. I concentrated on my breath and the grasshoppers chirping away in a burning hot September afternoon.
After taking a second, I looked around trying to find my puppy. A rusted chain link fence with a small door at one end separated the little house from the rest of the property, reminding me of the barbed wire in prison. Hoping that my puppy would show up somewhere behind the fence, I whispered softly,:
“Charlie… Charlie… Where are you?”
There was no movement. Once again, I called my puppy, this time whispering a little louder, my voice filled with panic:
“Charlie! Charlie? C’mon where are you hiding?”
For a second, a total silence hung in the air, until my puppy showed up quietly. He started jumping up and down, his mouth opened up to reveal his tongue which stuck out, and he waved his little tail in excitement. When I saw my puppy, I relaxed for a second; it felt like a heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders. I forgot about the neighbor and whispered in enthusiasm:
“Charlie! Thank God! I was so worried!” Then coming back to my senses, I added hurriedly, “Right. How are we going to get you out of here? The fence door is closed.”
Somewhere in the house, the TV turned on, making me jump at its noise. I panicked, and in horror quickly unfastened the thick chain around the door, opened it and let my puppy out.
“Come here! Good boy!” I whispered softly, trying to sound brave, even though I felt the terror creep over me. I picked up Charlie, carefully, closed the door behind me, tying the chain around the door; turned around, and without a noise, I began to run. I ran and ran and ran without stopping or turning my head, holding my puppy like a trophy of my little victory.