My fury softened when the fellow at the gas station carded me and said my silver hair was sexy as hell. I had a spring in my step as I strutted to the car where my dog waited, her head out the window, her eyes tracking me. We sped to a favorite trail, the one by the river that ferried boats and barges, and sometimes kayaks, in the sluggish, muddy water.
I let her out of the car, and as she ran ahead, I cracked open the beer with a satisfying hiss. I took a long pull and realized I could down it in one go but started walking instead. I had to find the dog.
Just around the bend, she was sniffing the ground in front of a runner, staying out of his way, but still he gave me a hard look. I tipped my beer to him and took another drink, meeting his scowl with indifference. Indifference always wins.
We turned onto a side trail, quiet and less traveled, where the dog bolted, her paws pounding the ground as she sprinted out of sight. I didn’t worry. I knew she’d come back.
But there in the hazy shadows, it hit me — the latent sorrow and pain surfacing in a geyser of tears. I guzzled the beer, crushed the can and tossed it aside, trudging through the woods, trying to walk, trying to breathe, but the air was heavy, the air was wet, my legs buckled, and I fell to my knees.
I heard her before I saw her. The panting, the rush, and then her nose on my neck.
What would I do without my dog?