-This is a short story that I wrote, one of the shortest, I am considering expanding it into something more substantial. It may end up in my upcoming book of short stories currently called “Dog Stories”. This is only a rough draft and only sparsely edited. Hope you enjoy, let me know what you think-
The last Day
By: Michael Melville
It was not always like this; I used to run and play and went for car rides. I ran around on the sand of different beaches and splashed through the water of many lakes and oceans when I traveled with my dad… until today. Liam, is looking down at me; he is crying really hard now, he almost never cries, this is really hard on him. We both know why I am here though; I know he is just doing what is best for me. The last few months have been hard for me; I have been in a lot of pain, Jerry the vet, says it is cancer, the kind you cannot fix. It has been hard for me to walk, let alone run for a few months now. It even hurts to get up from lying down sometimes; once in awhile Liam has to help me. He does not mind, he loves me, were best friends, he would do anything for me and I would do anything for him.
The floor is cold in here and I cannot see outside, there is no windows…I wish there was windows it would make this whole thing easier. Before we came here, Liam and I went to the ocean and sat by the water for a while. He just petted me, talked to me, talked about things we did together all these years. I wish he knew I could understand him so he did not think he was crazy. I tried to walk back to the truck but it hurt too much and sat down, so he picked me up and carried me the rest of the way. I could hear him crying; I rested my head on his shoulder and cried too. I knew what was coming; he told me about it…he always did talk to me as if I was a person, assumed I understood, he treated me as if I was more than a dog and a pet too him. I am going to miss him so much; I am going to miss spending time with my boy. On the way to the vet, I rode with my head out the window, smelling the air, feeling the breeze in my face while Liam petted me with one hand. It was one of my favorite things to do and today was the last time I would ever do it.
I am sitting between my dad’s knees; he is rubbing my belly now, calming me down while jerry is talking to him from the other side of the room. Liam has been with me nearly every day for 13 years, they were not always easy but we got through them good, we got threw them together. We were all each other had most of the time, at least that we could count on. I still remember the very first day I met him when I was only a few weeks old…
He came to the house I was living at then he was selling steak with another person. My little brother and I were only a few weeks old, the people that lived in that house never bothered naming us. The men from the scary brown house made us sleep outside in the cold and did not feed us; we were very hungry all the time. Those men killed our mother after she fought another dog in a round cage a few days before Liam came. She was hurt bad and they just laughed and kicked her while she laid there crying. I remember she tried to crawl to us but they would not let her, there was a loud bang and she was dead. I still do not like loud noises even all these years later; I get scared and run when I hear them…I am afraid I’m going to get hurt. We were too young to be away from her yet but we did not have any choice… we were babies. Liam kept looking at us, petting us while the other man he was with talked to the mean men from the house. I could not understand what they were saying then but I remember Liam was very nice to us; he talked nice to us. The men from the house threw us a frozen steak to eat before Liam and the other man left. Our teeth were too small to chew threw it, but we tried. Liam kept looking at us while he walked away. A raccoon came, and took the steak later that night; it ate it right in front of us while we were hiding under and old car. It was very cold that night, very cold we huddled together to stay warm.
The next morning there was a loud noise and the car started moving. I ran out of the way, as fast as my little legs could move but my little brother could not in time and the car ran him over. I still remember him crying in pain, the sound it made. One of the men got out of the car, grabbed my brother, and threw him in the yard as if he was nothing. In a week’s time watched my mother and my little brother die it was just me then, alone. I hid behind a piece of wood so the men from the brown house could not find me. I did not know what to do, I was scared, alone and hungry, I hurt because I was so hungry. I remember drinking from a puddle of water, there was black stuff in the water. It tasted bad but I was so thirsty I drank it anyway. I was scared the men from the house would find me so I hid under a bush and fell asleep.
I remember waking up later that day when I heard a different car pull up in the street from the ones I normally would hear. It was almost dark outside and I saw footsteps walk towards the house and came out from the bushes to look. It was the same boy I saw the day before, it was Liam. He picked me up and hid me under his coat; he looked for my brother and found him laying in the yard. Liam moved him to see if he was ok but my brother was already dead. Liam swore which scared me, he put me in his little brown car and it moved away fast. It was scary since I had never been in a car before, it made me sick so I crawled under the seat and threw up…he did not mind. Liam was talking very nice to me though, and eventually he got me to come out. I rode the rest of the on his lap, watching other cars and trees go by fast.
We stopped at a building with things for animals and he got me food and a few other things, and then brought me to where he lived. Some people said he should have brought me somewhere else, a place called a shelter, but he kept me. I lived with Liam and he kept me safe and protected me, nothing really that bad ever happened to me again after that. I was still little, so for a while Liam fed me with a something called a dropper, I did not like it much. He brought me to a vet who said I was far too young for any kind of dog food yet, I drank milk with medicine in it…that vet said I was only 5 or 6 weeks old. Sometimes I have dreams, bad ones about the men from that house. I dream they are going to come and take me away. I know Liam will not let them though; he would never let anyone take me away from him. When we lived in a place called Montana someone tried once to take me when I was in our truck alone while he was in a store. They looked like the men from the house I came from but were not the same ones. Liam caught them trying to get me; he hurt the men bad, very bad, he used the thing that made a loud bang. They went far away and never came back though.
Liam had an old cage that I slept inside of out by his kitchen. There was a big bed and soft blankets inside for me and some toys. I did not like being alone at night though, I was scared to be alone so I cried and cried. Liam came and got me and let me sleep in his bed with him, I curled up right next to his head. The only time I ever slept in that cage again was when Liam was not home, I still did not like it but I had to until I grew up. I am going to miss sleeping next to my boy or down by his stinky feet at night, he was warm… knowing he was right there made me happy.
Nevertheless, that was how we started, that is how I met the best boy in the world, my best friend, my dad; He saved me. Most people do not know that, he never felt bad about it though. I think more humans need to take chances the way Liam did. He was not afraid of what would happen to him, he was more afraid of what would happen to me if he did nothing, it’s not often someone has the chance to save a life, but he did and he took it. I heard Liam say once “sometimes the most important decisions, the best decisions you ever make are the ones you make in an instant, the ones you don’t over think…the ones you just feel”.
I worry about him because now, because he is going to be all alone again; he is not used to being alone it has been a long time since he has. Some people do not think dogs have feelings, and do not have souls, that we don’t understand things like that…but we do…we all do, and Liam believes this. We feel pain, hurt and anger when it happens to us, and when it happens to the humans and other dogs we love we feel it…understand it too. I worry about him as much as he worries about me.
Jerry, my vet, said it is going to be a little while yet so Liam told him that he and I are going outside to sit in the fresh air, he says the room is depressing…I agree. We live in Oregon now our house is by the salty ocean so we go there every day; the vet’s office sits near the ocean too. When we go outside at the vets we can see it…I love the way the ocean smells. When I went to stand up to walk out I could not, my legs hurt and I cried. Jerry looked at me with a sad face. Liam was standing now and looked down at me, tears in his eyes again and said “were still going outside big girl, don’t you worry” Jerry said he would send someone to come and get us when they were ready for us.
My dad picked me up carefully, my front legs sitting on his shoulders. He carried me outside and we sat on top of a picnic table together. I rested my head on his legs and he petted my head and ears, then my spotted belly. He let me lay on his big black wool coat so I had something soft to lie on, so it did not hurt. I see the waves rolling onto the beach not far away, white birds fly around above our heads and there are some on the beach below. I really want to chase them, but I cannot, it would hurt to bad to do that.
His eyes get wet again while he talks to me and pets me more. I wish someone was here for him for all of this, he is here for me…to make this easier on me, and so I am not as scared. No one is here for him though and thinking about that makes me cry. I look at him and he smiles back at me and tells me that I am a good girl, and a good dog. I lick his other hand repeatedly; it is my way of telling him that I love him, that he is a good boy, a good friend…and a good dad. I love sitting here like this with him, I know what is next, I am scared but having him here makes this easier…there is no other human I would want here with me than Liam……