Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Just another day... a MatadorU assignment

This is posted for MatadorU, a travel writing program that I am taking part of. The assigment was to write a brief story that mixes the current day, written in present tense, and a day or event that happened in your life.

6 a.m. already? As if the alarm wasn’t enough, Daisy made sure that I knew it was time to wake up with her perfectly timed tongue assaults. Every time I would start to nod off again, she’d be there to lick my face, reminding me to get up. Mumbling to myself about how much I hate getting up in the dark, I stumble into the kitchen only to be blinded by the fluorescent lights. Two bowls of cereal later, I’m putting on my makeup, getting dressed, and getting out the door.

I have quite a bit of time to think during my 30 minute drive to work, usually zoning out and then all of a sudden, I’m turning left and into my elementary school parking lot. I teach preschool Special Ed., so my day wouldn’t be complete without something totally random happening. Today Robert threw up and when we called his mom she asked if she needed to come pick him up. Your son is puking all over the nurse’s office, so yes, Robert’s mom, you do need to come pick him up. Thank you.

After school, I went next door to talk to Alexa, another preschool teacher, and found out that not only is she moving and having a yard sale, but has a brand new Belgian waffle maker and a very nice strainer that are looking for a new home. Coincidentally, Eric and I could really use a nice strainer, and who can say no to a Belgian waffle maker? This conversation occurred just days after I bought pumpkin pancake and waffle mix from Trader Joe’s. It was obviously meant to be.

Since money is tight this month, the dogs are only going to be able to go to doggie day care once a week, which means I’m going to have to step up my dog owner responsibilities and take them for more walks, starting today! The dogs are psyched to be going for a walk, so we got out the door in record time.

We take the usual route down Broadway and stop at the first intersection. The dogs sit and I have them wait. On command, we jog across the road and when I go to switch their black leashes into my other hand, I accidentally drop Sadie’s leash. She turns her jog into a sprint and takes off down the sidewalk. I start chasing her while screaming her name and that’s when the flashback happens. Four years ago we moved to California with a dog named Chilli. We were at the beach, she was off leash playing with our friends’ dog, got scared, and took off. I chased her down the sidewalk, and she just kept running and running. Chilli ran into an intersection and got hit by a car. She didn’t make it, despite getting her to an emergency vet within 10 minutes. I was devastated to say the least, and it was potentially about to happen again.

Every part of me wanted to keep chasing Sadie until I caught her, but my mind told me to do what I have read in every dog training book ever – stop chasing her. So I stopped and squatted down. The second I stopped, she stopped and turned around to look at me. I called her name and after a slight pause Sadie came trotting back to me. I shakily told her “good girl” and from that moment on held both leashes with a white knuckle grip. After I regained my composure, I called Eric. “We need to get Sadie a different colored leash”.


AdventureRob said...

Ahh what a sad thing to happen to poor Chilli :-( The nature of dogs running off must always have you worried now.

Anonymous said...

Oh no! I'm glad that Sadie didn't suffer the same fate as poor Chilli. I think this is a nice story, with some cool touches. I can totally relate to the way you are waking up in the morning, and I love the little bit of humour when you are talking about Robert's mom.

I thought the tenses were a bit confused in places: you jump between past and present when talking about the day. Also, I didn't quite understand the reference to the leash colour. Are you saying that if Sadie's leash was a distinct colour, you wouldn't have dropped it?

Overall, I enjoyed the story, and it feels very genuine. Nice one!

Richard said...

"so yes, Robert’s mom, you do need to come pick him up." made me chuckle! I would suggest possibly trying to rework the transition from your current dog to the one that died, so that it almost just slides from the one memory to the other more gently, without the transition sentences:

" start chasing her while screaming her name and that’s when the flashback happens. Four years ago we moved to California with a dog named Chilli. "

I like the way you end by realising that chasing will get you nowhere. You need to stop and then Sadie will come back to you. I wonder if you couldn't work some larger idea/lesson into the story around that theme, which would give more punch to that realisation at the end.

Abbie said...

Rob - yes, I kind of have a complex about it now :/
Nick - Thanks for the feedback - I went back and realized I did mix up the tenses some, it's hard to write in just present tense!
Richard - Thanks for your feedback, too - my original intention was to just talk about my day, but it would be a bonus to add in a message :)

Nancy said...

Oh my. I'm so sorry about your dog Chilli. That must have been so hard. But, I'm so glad that Sadie's alright. (You actually taught me something in how to deal with a dog running off.)

Looking forward to reading more of your posts and assignments!

Steven said...

I'm a dog lover myself (one who has also dropped the leash in the past). I could definitely relate to the helplessness of seeing your dog running towards danger and knowing you can't chase, but willing with all your might for her to just stop running. And yes, sorry for poor Chilli.

I was going to mention the tenses, but just read the rest of the comments. Yes, I too find it tough to stay in the same tense sometimes(!) Enjoyed the story...it brought back visions of my time in So Cal. :-)

Anonymous said...

Geeeeez! That must have been a terrible thing to witness. :( You make me want to have a dog again...I like this assignment!

Nancy said...

Hey Abbie. Just wanted to let you know I let you a little love on my blog www.nancythegnomette.com :)