Monday, February 6, 2012

A Short Story

                               NEVER FOREVER*                                   

I know she loves me. I know it because she tells me. I know it because she shows me.

Every day she kneels next to me, takes my head in her hands, caresses my face, covers it with kisses and murmurs into my ear, “Don’t leave me. Not yet. I’m not ready. I love you too much.” Then she rubs my neck and does a soft pinchy, stroke thing down my spine because she knows how much my back hurts now.

I can’t tell her of course, but I hate to be touched. There was a time when I longed for her touch, but not now. My skin feels raw as if all my nerves are exposed. My body aches and to be perfectly honest, I would like to be ignored, except for mealtime. I tolerate her demonstrations of love because I love her too. And, of course, I remember our past. Sweet memories. All of them sweet except for the car accident, but that wasn’t her fault. She wasn’t even home when it happened.

Maybe she gave me too much freedom when I was young. She always said if she didn’t give me enough freedom, she wasn’t giving me enough love. And, I think she’s a champion in that area – giving love.

My metal hip hurts more and more, but I can’t tell her that. Today it snowed. She loves snow. I love snow. I saw tiny bird feet prints on the front porch. In my head I wanted to dash out and even roll in it. But today it frightened me. I couldn’t stop thinking, “how will I go down those three steps without falling? What if I twist my leg.” She was watching me from the other side of the front door, waiting for the same excitement we always shared over the first snow. I know her eyes so well, her smile, she was saying – without saying (and we’re good at this the two of us) – “go on, go on you know how much we love snow.”

I slid and fell down the steps and as I hit the ground I felt the warm air from the house – I can’t hear the door anymore and I only hear her voice when she whispers in my ear (or yells at me. . .) and she was running out without a coat in her ballet slippers to lift me up. But I was too quick for her. I made myself stand. I didn’t even look at her. I pretended I didn’t know she was there. And I walked off into the snow like a drunkard, weaving and uncertain.

In the winter we sit next to the fire together. The fire feels so good on my poor aching back. Sometimes she makes what she calls her “famous” vodka cocktail – one half effervescent vitamin C tablet, the juice of one lemon, ice and St. Pellegrino. I don't drink myself, but I like to watch her from the kitchen door that's how I know the ingredients – and after one of those she starts talking to me. Sometimes she cries. Maybe it’s the vodka that makes her cry, but I think it’s the cocktail of the vodka and the remark a friend of hers made last night. He said: “I don’t know why you keep holding on like this. When life is nothing but pain you have to let go. It’s time.”

She sobbed into my neck when she told me that. She asked me if she was being selfish. I couldn’t answer her. I want to stay here as long as I can for her, but it’s getting harder and harder. I used to be able to show her how much I love her, I would run to the door to greet her even if she was only gone for 10 minutes, I would sit on the sofa next to her with my head on her lap, her arm across my body; but now I can’t even wag my tail.

It’s time.

*This is a fictional short story, but you can see where it's going and much is true, but fortunately not the final chapter. 

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