When I was a little girl, my best friends were two dogs, named Jay and Cici. Each night, they would tuck me in like a sandwich, and they’d yowl along to my mother’s lullaby. I don’t know what kind of dogs Cici and Jay were because they were only mutts to most. They were big though. Knock down a six year old big, but they would always pick me up, gently with wet snouts and lick away the imaginary bruises.
When I was 10, Jay got hit by a car, but he made it through, coming home to me with only three legs. He was never the same, always cautious, never wanting to wrestle like he did before the accident. Cici spent a lot of time with Jay convincing him things would be okay again. I don’t think Jay ever believed her though, and he passed away for good a couple of years later when I was 12.
Cici was old and slow when she died, I was 18, celebrating my SAT scores with my first sip of alcohol, taking a longer walk than usual. I think she knew it would be her last. The next morning, she was cold and I cried for at least two weeks afterwards. It was just us, my mother, father and me and I felt like they were strangers. Who were these people? They didn’t seem as important to me as Cici and Jay, but they were here before them and they’d be here to take me to college, to see me graduate, and then what? I don’t know, but they’d escort me to adulthood with smiles and nods of encouragement.
My parents didn’t get new dogs, and the house felt empty without them. Luckily, I spent every day but holidays living in a dorm, far away but not so far away that I couldn’t drive home if I was feeling nostalgic.
Four years passed, I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend, who’d insist on getting a dog. I’d move out.
I knew it was a dumb reason, but maybe I needed more time.
Finally, age 25, I saw him. My new dog in the arms of a man I didn’t know, but wish I did.
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