The sun was going down. It was the dark just before night. The cold was biting and the air stung my skin. I saw movement along the tree line. Was it a shadow? The dusk playing tricks on my eyes? No. I could see the silhouette clearly now. Broad body and full rack. It slowly made its way onto the green. I shifted uneasily and it looked up sharply, suspicious of the situation now.
I squeezed the trigger. It fell. That’s the way it goes with those types of things. Cause and effect. There was the rush but then there was a fall. It was a strange sensation. Taking a life, no matter how small a life, is a life all the same. With these hands. It was my doing, There really is no other way to state it.
My father smeared the blood on my face. That was a ritual for a first kill. I wasn’t old enough to shave. I was proud and sad all at the same time. Its eyes were open. I remember that too. They still haven’t closed.
“A boy and his dog.” That’s the line isn’t it? That’s what everyone always says, “There’s nothing like a boy and his dog.” They’re not wrong. There is nothing like it. He was a puppy when I first met him. His body was too big for his little legs. He used to fall over when he ran. It made my father laugh. I loved that dog for that. He was my friend. I grew and he grew with me. He loved me through all my awkward years. He loved me through every good day. He loved me through every bad day. He ran beside me through the woods. Long mornings when the hills made my calves burn and my lungs felt like they would explode. He stayed right by my side. Even as he got old he made himself keep up.
Dogs just seem to know things without us ever having to tell them anything at all. The night she broke my heart he just knew. I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to be alone. That’s the thing about a boy and his dog. When your best friend is a dog you can be alone together. His big black paw rested on my knee and we just sat there. Alone. But not so alone.
I buried him beside the big tree that we ran past in the hills. He always seemed to like that spot. I took my friend and placed him in the ground. I ripped out a piece of myself and laid it in the hole with him.
I don’t run in the hills anymore.
The smell is what takes me back, a mixture of cookies and gardening soil and perfume that should have long since been retired. She had rough hands; somehow they were still gentle. Her joints ached but she still chased me around the yard, laughter filling the air, joy in my heart. At night she told me stories of dragons and knights and a world I wanted to live in. She loved me the way that only grandmothers can. She didn’t just think I could be anything, she believed it with everything inside of her.
That’s the job of a grandmother. To believe in you long before life has tried to convince you otherwise. To plant that tiny seed early on and give you deep roots to hold firm when the world tries to knock you down. Because that’s the job of the world. We can only hope that our grandmothers do their job just a little better.
Flashback is an ongoing [fractured] story. These are short individual components of a larger connecting narrative that is non-linear. Hope you enjoy.
I remember the river like it was yesterday. The way that the water rushed over my feet, cold and refreshing, invigorating. My toes dug into the sand and rocks at the bottom. The sun shone down on my face and warmed me. The fresh bloom of Spring was fresh in my nostrils. Peace. That’s what I remember. Peace. It was like all the world decided to stop and just embrace the beauty that was within it. The moment stretched for an eternity and then went by before I could hold onto it.
I guess that’s life.
Those little moments that flash by but stay with us forever. Those are the best parts of life if we’re lucky. If we’re not those moments are the worst. For me, this moment, this one was good.