Emerging Writers: A New Short Story by Angela Rieck.
Saying Goodbye Again.
Her feet landed on a warm, damp spot on the rug. ‘Oh no, another pee spot.’ She looked at her cockapoo, Sophie, Anna didn’t know when the light had left her big brown eyes. Anna had been so pre-occupied with caring for her dying husband that she missed it. She never looked, she never really looked. Anna placed a folded washcloth on the spot and stepped on it. She looked for Sophie, who was pacing the perimeter of the room, pausing at an ottoman, lost in her confused world. Anna went over and moved the ottoman so that Sophie could continue her robotic strides around the room. While bending over to spray the spot, she decided...it was time. She called the vet and made the appointment for the end of the day.
So at the end of the day, she scooped up Sophie’s heavy body, Sophie woke up and looked at her…yes Sophie still knew her. Maybe she was making a mistake, despite the cloudy eyes, Sophie could still see her. But Sophie didn’t resist when Anna placed her on the seat of the car.
“She still recognizes you, you know,” said the vet.
“I know,” Anna said, her eyes watered and her jaw stiffened as she looked away.
Sophie didn’t wince when the first shot went into her shoulder. Anna knew that she would be asleep for the second one.
Sweet, sweet Sophie, keeper of all of her daughter’s secrets. Sweet, sweet Sophie, convinced that every visitor came with the intent of petting her. Sweet, sweet, beautiful Sophie, her buff colored, soft curls covering her beautiful cocker face and body. Her tail, longer than a cocker’s with a plume like pampas grass. Beautiful Sophie, who only wanted a hug, a pet, and to put her ample frame in your lap. Sweet, sweet Sophie, who didn’t mind the Christmas bows placed on her head and would proudly appear downstairs with the metal from her daughter’s retainer protruding from her mouth. Sweet, sweet Sophie, who never gave up on her; had she given up on Sophie? Was Anna just too overwhelmed to deal with Sophie? Was it really Sophie’s time?
“We’re ready,” said the veterinarian, softly. “She won’t feel a thing.”
Anna nodded, she had done this before…her tears steadily flowing down her cheek. She cradled Sophie as tight as she could as she felt Sophie’s body go limp. A wail escaped her gut; tears flowed unabated.
“She’s gone,” whispered the assistant as Anna rolled the body to the vet assistant’s waiting arms; Anna wasn’t going to let Sophie be on the cold steel table…not sweet, sweet Sophie. Secretly Anna envied that peace that she had given to her beautiful dog, but she had people who depended on her, and Robert Frost’s quote echoed in her mind, “I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”
Wearily she stumbled to the car for the short ride home. She felt like she had been dropped, blindfolded into a boxing ring, a punching bag for a heavy weight fighter’s practice. After each blow, she would get up, at first she stood up quickly, but, by now, the cuts and bruises made each rise slower and more painful. ‘This was it,’ she thought, ‘I just can’t take anymore…I need to get out of this ring.’ But the boxer was not done with her yet.