Monday, April 12, 2010
Marvin knew how to plead with his big brown eyes. Christine couldn't ignore him. She didn’t want to. Everyone else in the house in the house did a spectacular job of that.
When she had agreed to the dog, Christine had foolishly believed the children would keep their word and "love him and walk him and pick up his poo." She had romanticized the idea of taking him for long walks and brisk hikes. Most days it was all she had in her to walk him along the trails behind her house.
Christine choked down the resentment and put on her coat to brace herself against the March evening’s chill. The cat gave her a sarcastic look as if to say “I warned you against that mutt.”
Christine kept a strong hand on Marvin’s leash as they set out. After 6 years the big black lab still liked to push Christine’s limits – and her buttons. Despite his best attempts, she was able to get him to heel. After a few minutes of battling over who was in charge, Marvin surrendered until he found the tree on which he wished to pee. Christine was just thankful she wouldn’t need the plastic bag in her pocket – yet.
She rolled her neck to ease some tension and ward of exhaustion. She caught sight of a carving on Marvin’s tree. Her own initials connected “4ever” to two other letters she didn’t recognize.
It brought back to her a tree in a park 600 miles away that linked her initials with those of Tommy Devon.
She hadn’t thought of him in years. The memory made her sigh out loud. He was 16, she was 15. He was dreamy in man boy way. Deep brown eyes. Long dark eyelashes. Football player handsome and 6’ tall at 16. She had loved the way he had towered over her 5’3’ frame.
It had started as a flirty walk home from school and bloomed into glorious summer love. So much hand holding. So much kissing. They spent the summer in a park full of trees with wonderful crooks made for kissing and perfect for carving romantic vandalism. She didn’t think she had ever been kissed as much as she had that summer.
But when they returned to school Leslie Cuch quickly caught Tommy’s eye and he drifted off in her direction. Christine mourned the loss hard for at least a week. Until John Lambert sat next to her in history class. John, she remembered, had the most fabulous….
Marvin tugged impatiently on his leash. They exchanged looks of “hurry up” and “I’m sorry” before carrying on. Christine loosened the grip on her leash and let Marvin take her the long way home.