Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)
TITLE: Chink, chink
By terri tiffany
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Clink, Clink. My best man tapped his spoon against the crystal goblets. I leaned over and kissed my bride. Joanne flushed with pleasure as we locked hands and listened to the sweet melody swell in our hearts as we began our life together.
* * * * *
The tags rattled around her neck as she padded up to the back porch. Her slightly matted white hair was discolored from age. Her tongue hung from her lips as she panted for fresh water. I reached to stroke her wizened face. I knew with sureness, I would not hear the sweet sound of her melody much longer.
“How are you doing, my girl?” I ruffled Panda’s long coat of hair and warmed to her rough nose as my eighteen year old dog pushed against my leg. Adopted when we thought we might not be able to have children, she was soon smothered by Joanne with a mothering instinct stored from years of waiting. But that waiting had abruptly ended one day when our surrogate was yet a pup and enjoying her many pampered pleasures.
Clank, Clank. The delicious sound of baby bottles being stored in the refrigerator for me to use when my wife returned to work greeted me that morning. “This should hold you. If not, just make up more.” She turned to coo at our three month old daughter, tears stinging her eyes at the thought of leaving her child. Since I worked from home, I would be the main care giver. She loved her job but was rapidly discovering she loved this one more.
Panda whined at the back door as we kissed each other goodbye. I leaned over and let her in. Her nights were spent in the dog house now but she grabbed every opportunity to enter her former domain. I watched her sniff the stroller then curl in a soft ball.
As the years melted by, the melody of our lives slowly changed. Crack! The softball was smacked into the left cornfield. “Go get it girl!” Panda streaked to catch up with the white rocket and stretched her mouth around it. Triumphantly, she trotted back to our twelve year old slugger. Erin fell to her knees and embraced Panda’s shaggy head. “Good dog. Want to get another?” Panda licked her face in anticipation.
Ching. Ching. “That makes eighty dollars. We have enough for a beautiful dress!” The coins laid spread over the bedroom carpet as my wife and daughter stacked rows of quarters. “Can we go tomorrow, Mom? I want to find the prettiest one I can.” Panda licked her bare heels as my daughter reveled in her excitement about her first prom. Softball forgotten - boys found. But her hand still stroked her dog’s ears like a strong fingered cellist.
The phone jarred me from the couch. I leapt to answer it stubbing my toe on boxes packed for college. Glancing around the darkened room, I realized I had once again fallen asleep in front of the TV. Joanne would be waiting upstairs for my body heat.
“Hey, it’s Bill. I think your dog fell in our pool and we can’t get her out. My son was getting home late and heard the sound of splashing.” I dropped the phone and headed for the door, pulling on a jacket and stuffing my feet in my sneakers. Within minutes, I was hauling Panda’s sodden and exhausted body from the pool while both neighbors pulled beside me. She trembled incessantly despite the blankets wrapped around her. I laid her in the back of my pick up truck and drove home. With much coaxing, Joanne and I were able to get her onto the kitchen floor buried in more blankets.
“Dad, will she live?” Erin stroked the old dog’s face, tears dripping into her already soaked fur.
I shook my head slowly as I watched the dog labor to breathe. The next morning, she surprised us as she waited by the door to go out. I watched as she moved slowly down the porch steps and padded towards the tall grass in the side field as if swaying to her own tune.
Chink, Chink. The sound of her tags striking the rocks as we lowered her into the deep abyss starkly reminded me of the ever changing melody of our lives. Despite hitting so many high notes along the way, we knew these lower ones turned our song into a masterpiece.
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