Last night I heard what could have been a very sad tale from a friend on twitter. This story tells that tale but is fictionalised ……
The boot lid was open as Lottie with her mum came into the beach side car park, she hopped in and settled in the dog crate ready for the drive home. Her teenager had been standing by the boot and as he closed the door to the crate her gave her chin a quick tickle, “Hi Lottie, had a good chase? Did you catch any waves?” She grinned up at him as he closed the boot lid winking at her as he did so.
Lottie settled on the cushions in her crate ready to eaves drop on the human conversations during the car ride. Her little white ears were pricked up ready to catch every word. She was tired after running around on the beach but she would nap when they got home, for now she wanted to catch up on the family news.
As the car pulled out of the car park and onto the narrow lane Dad asked the question she wanted to hear the answer to, “Did you ask about next week?”
“Yep and Lucy is cool with it, we can pick Matt up after band practice on Friday afternoon.” Good news thought Lottie, Matt was great fun and she wanted him to come along on their camping trip, he was very good at throwing balls. “You know Emily has asked Lauren, right?”
Mum tutted, “No I didn’t know. Typical, do you think she was planning on telling or waiting til we got on the road and see if we noticed Lauren was in the car?” Lottie could hear the smile in her voice, so despite her words, she knew mum was pleased. Emily and Lauren rowed for a local club together and had won many prizes in a double scull. They were great fun to be with and Lottie knew if they came along she would get walked off her little legs, they would take her on early morning jogs with them. After their jog she would come back to the tent and sneak into Mum and Dad’s bed for a snuggled and a snooze, while the teens raced around having fun.
Her teenager began to talk about the nights band practice, in his excited voice, and she could tell he had enjoyed a great night. Every now and then Dad and Mum exchanged comments, planning tea, arranging to collect Emily, checking how each other’s days had gone, a grown up conversation over the top of the teenage chatter from Chris. Every so often a word of encouragement for the band’s progress was passed from the front of the car.
It was warm in the boot as the evening sun came through the window into her crate. Lottie stretched out and sighed. She hoped Emily would want to play in the shady courtyard area of the garden when they got home. The teenager’s voice carried on as they drove along lulling her into a state near sleep but still aware of the passing hedgerows with their varied shades of green, along the route.
Dad watched the road as he drove along the familiar lanes, up the hill from the car park, around the tight bend. Along past the primary school where he had gone as a boy and where Chris had fallen in the playground, on his first day, and skinned his knees. Dad smiled as he thought about that day. A sunny one just like this. Even then the teenager had liked music, but they didn’t yet know that like would turn to love which would then change and grow into something hypnotic and special.
Dad watched the road as he drove along the narrow lanes, bordered with stone walls that had stood for who knew how many years. He saw the children. Two of them. One in a red T shirt with shorts. The other in shorts with a green top. He saw the dog lead. He saw tanned running legs. He saw the ripple of wind, through the dogs fur, as excited it ran. He saw, rather than heard, their laughs and the dogs pants. He saw the fully stretched dog lead and knew they did not see him. They were running for the fun of it, in a way only children and dogs do. Running in a way that shut out the rest of the world. Running in a way that said they were too young to be out alone with the dog on this busy country lane – the main route back to many campsites at this time of year. Dad snatched at the wheel. Hoped the walls that had stood for years were ready to fall easily. Thought, “where are they running to?”
Mum screamed. It was loud and long. The loudest thing Lottie had ever heard. It had the texture of treacle.
There was silence. Silence as hard as stone. The wall did not fall easily. The wall did not fall. Lottie whimpered but there was no answering whimper from the happy running dog. He would run no more. There was an answering groan from both of the running children. Not a child sound, but Lottie knew it was a child making it.
Dad didn’t move. He wouldn’t move until the rescue workers lifted him from the wall and the broken glass. He wouldn’t pick Emily up. He wouldn’t be going camping.
Mum didn’t move. She wouldn’t move until the rescue workers worked frantically around her and lifted her to the stretcher. Then there would be noise as she was driven away – Lottie didn’t know where Mum was going but she knew the journey had to be fast. Just before the rescue workers lifted her as a team mum did make a sound. She said, “Lottie.” just one word but then Lottie knew she had to be good and wait. Lottie sat down in her crate and waited.
The teenager didn’t move. He wouldn’t move until the rescue workers touched Mum when he reached out a hand to help and was told to hold still and wait. In no time he was gone as well and Lottie waited.
Other rescue workers had taken the small children who made the sounds children should not make. Some one had covered the dog, still on his lead, but no longer running as only dogs and small children can – just for fun.
Emily came. She came with Lauren, and Lauren’s mum. She came with no smiles but she came for Lottie. Lottie had no need to wait any longer. Lottie got off the cushion and wagged her tail, hopped out of the crate and into Emily’s arms. Nothing would ever be the same.
They were too young to be out alone with a dog, running for fun.