The shadows from the tree outside her window gently slid back and forth across the ceiling. Anne lay awake staring at them. She was worried about Bobby, enough to give her a sharp pain in the pit of her stomach. Ever since nearly getting hit by that truck yesterday morning, he had been inconsolable. Who had ever heard of someone’s imaginary friend getting killed. But to Bobby it was real, and he was grieving just the same. If he didn’t improve soon, she would need to take him to see a doctor. It wasn’t right for her son to become so attached to someone who was only in his head.
She fluffed her pillow and rolled over on her side to get more comfortable, but she still couldn’t sleep. Beside her, Wesley snored quietly which only served to infuriate her. She wondered how he could sleep when their only son was having such difficulty, and considered waking her husband up if only to have someone to share her misery with. At her feet the dog cocked her head as if to ask why Anne would be up at such an ungodly hour as this.
Anne was just about to try turning over on her other side when Precious whined and leapt off the bed to hide underneath. Before she could even ask herself what was wrong, a loud bang shook the entire townhouse like a bomb had gone off. The concussion made the bed jump and the windows rattle. Her only thought was of her son’s safety. While Wesley was still struggling to consciousness, she was already racing down the hall to Bobby’s room.
When she pushed open the door, she found the bedroom torn apart like a tornado had whipped through it. The curtains rustled in the breeze from the missing window pane. Toys and clothes were tossed everywhere, and the desk and dresser toppled over, torn from their anchors in the wall. In the middle of it all was Bobby sitting up in bed, screaming. He clutched his mother when she reached out to hold him.
“What the hell happened in here?” Wesley asked from the doorway. He walked over to his wife and son to make sure they were both all right. Bobby was still crying and whimpering, but otherwise he seemed unhurt by what had happened.
As Wesley walked over to the window, Anne said, “Be careful of the broken glass.”
“There isn’t any,” said Wesley. “I think it was all blown outside.”
“What do you mean?” asked Anne. “How is that possible?”
“I don’t know,” he answered, “but I’m going to go out and check for any damage.”
While he went to the yard, Anne scooped Bobby up in her arms. “Oof, you’re getting too big for me to be carrying you around,” she said. “Pretty soon you’re going to be picking me up.” Bobby didn’t laugh, but his crying subsided a bit more. She placed him in her bed and spent the next several minutes trying to soothe the scared boy.
When Wesley reappeared, he was motioning her into the hallway. To Bobby, she said, “You just wait right here, and I’ll be right back. I need to talk with your father.” He seemed calmer now, and Precious had reemerged from under the bed and was licking the tears from his face. In the hall, she saw streaks of blood on Wesley’s hands and panicked. “What happened. Are you hurt?”
He shook his head. “It’s not mine. There was a stray dog out in the yard, a pit bull by the look of it. It got knocked out by a broken tree limb, and it had a pretty big gash in its side from a piece of glass.”
“We need to get it to a hospital right away.”
“Yeah, it was cut pretty badly and will probably need stitches,” he said. “We need to pack the wound first or it might not make it…”
“…and I’m the one who studied first aid,” she interrupted.
“I put it in the garage. I’ll stay with Bobby and drive the dog to the vet when you’re done.”
After stopping briefly in the kitchen for the first aid kit, she went into the garage and found the dog lying on its side on the concrete floor. She approached cautiously. She knew that pit bulls weren’t more dangerous than any other dog, that was just a bad reputation perpetrated by a few irresponsible owners, but any wounded animal needed to be approached with care.
It – no, she was a full-grown dog, ginger tan with white markings and belly. She seemed to be in good health except for the blood on her haunch. Anne figured that she must be someone’s pet who had gotten of her leash. They would check around the neighborhood later, but first she needed to treat the wound. The dog didn’t lift her head when Anne came near, so she might already be in shock. Anne would need to work quickly if she was going to save her.
She cracked open the kit, took out some gauze, and soaked it in alcohol. As she cleaned the blood from the dog’s fur, however, she was having trouble finding a wound. She pushed back the hair, searching for a cut. With all that blood, it had to be there, but she couldn’t find it. After five minutes, she gave up. The dog didn’t seem to be in distress and was breathing normally.
After locking the dog in the garage, she went back upstairs. Bobby had been tucked in, but Wesley was still talking to him, trying to calm him enough that he would fall back asleep. Her husband looked up when she came in. “Okay, if you can stay with Bobby, I’ll take the dog to the vet.”
“There’s no need,” she said. “I couldn’t find anything wrong with her.”
“What do you mean?” asked Wesley.
“I don’t know what to tell you. She’s fine now.”
“Did a doggie get hurt?” asked Bobby.
“No, Bobby,” she said. “She just a little lost. We’ll help get her home tomorrow.”
“Can we keep her? She can be a friend for Precious.”
“She probably belongs with another family, Bobby,” said Wesley. “If Precious was lost, wouldn’t you want someone to help get her home?”
“I guess so.”
“All right. Now try to get some sleep.” Wesley got up and signaled Anne to follow him. Out in the hall he whispered, “”I saw it myself. It had a huge piece of glass sticking out of its rump.”
“Go and see for yourself,” said Anne. “There’s nothing wrong with her.”
They went back down to the garage together and peeked inside. There on the floor lay the dog, sleeping but otherwise unhurt.
“I could have sworn…” said Wesley.
“She was covered in blood,” said Anne, “but once I cleaned it off, I couldn’t find any trace of a wound. C’mon, we need to deal with the mess upstairs. This can wait until tomorrow.” As she led her husband back to the kitchen, the dog began to snore.
To be continued…