My Smiling Dog : excerpt from Can You Hear Me Now?

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There were no houses around the 20 acres surrounded our new home. While it wasn’t complete, we moved into it anyway since it was livable. There were miles and miles of tall golden grass all around us, moving like an ocean of gold rolling with the breezes.

At the end of our very long driveway was a dirt road and semi trucks sped by all day leaving behind huge billows of dust. You couldn’t see across the road until the dust settled. My mother fussed about those trucks even years later, long after we moved from there. She said she always worried that one of us would get run over.

The smiling dog — I can’t even tell you what that dogs name was, though there are pictures of him. I owe that dog my life, and my mother told this story for years.

I was about four years old and running down the driveway toward that dirt road and she was calling after me as she could see the semi truck coming down the road and that I was on a collision course. I didn’t answer her call and kept going until I was in the middle of the road. As she tells it, I was picking something up, quite interested in studying whatever I had found. I stood up, looked across the street at my mother, who is yelling at me. Her words were meaningless to me, since I couldn’t hear.

In my own memory I remember the dog suddenly pounding in my chest, knocking me into the ditch. He scared me and knocked the wind out of me. My mother was hysterical. She thought the truck hit me. She had seen the dog go tearing across the road and watched as he launched himself through the air and colliding with me. The Truck screamed by without notice of any of us.

My mother was racing down the driveway. When she got to me, I was laying in the ditch on the other side of the road, unharmed, bewildered, and wondering what had happened. My smiling dog lay lifeless in the road. Times like that make me wonder what I was saved for.

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