My Friend Sandy
Below you will find a story, a tribute to my dear dog friend, Sandy. To honor her, it has been slightly modified from the original format in my collection, Mama’s Boy and Other Dark Tales.
My experience of Sandy’s love and devotion and an image from the devastating Katrina disaster, served as inspiration for this story. It was written through a blur of tears…both times.
I hope you enjoy the story. Thank you for reading.
For my girl, Sandy. Rest in peace, my friend.
Orange and Golden
By Fran Friel
“You look bad, Man,” they said. “This is your last chance.”
They’d be back around in the boat tomorrow, so I needed to say Goodbye. I can’t. If I wanted to live, they said, I had to. But she wouldn’t – no matter how hungry, how hot, and how afraid she was, she would never leave me.
We’ve been friends for years. She’s warmed my feet on winter nights. Listened to my rants about work, women, life.
When a couch cushion turned up gutted, “Bad, Dog!” I’d said. “Don’t you ever do that again.”
Then I shrugged. Can’t stay mad at someone who is never mad at me.
The water sits at the edge of the rooftop and the heat is bearing down. The shingles have rubbed my fingers raw, and torn her paws. I cling to her, my arm around her strong neck. She struggles with the heat, her long hair matted down by my sweaty hands. But she never tires of my clinging; she never pulls away.
The water kept rising floor by floor, pouring through my broken windows. We had nowhere else to go but up. When I thought that I would die here on this roof, when no other soul in the world was here to comfort me, she laid beside me all through the watery night.
She’s so calm. I am not. My skin is blistered from the sun, and my lips are cracked, my mouth rough and spit-less. There is no help from outside. The guys in the boat are just guys with a boat - they offered me a ride.
“No dog, Man,” they said. “We got one more stop – we’ll be back. Last chance.”
I can’t leave her. She wouldn’t. I can’t. She would die for me.
I open my sticky eyes and I see them coming – an aluminum oasis. The killing sun sets behind them – silhouettes with waving arms. My body has stiffened and I feel the fever and chills – sun poisoning.
A hulking figure climbs onto my roof raft. I feel the thud of his feet hammer through my body. On my back, I cannot move - I can only open my eyes. A warm muzzle rests on my shoulder – brown eyes watch over me.
Hands grab my shoulders and the muzzle disappears from my sight. Lifted, my body is pulled, my heels dragging across the grit of the roof shingles.
“No,” I whisper. “I can’t.”
My head lulls to the side and I see her fur lifting in the breeze as she sits near the peak of the roof, tongue lolling. The sunset colors her orange and golden.
“Please,” I beg, my voice a rasp.
I am lumped onto the floor of the boat, cool metal against my back. The boat thrusts forward with grunts and rowing. No tears fall with my voiceless sobs.
Copyright 2008-2013 by Fran Friel