Seven Days to Goodbye & Starting Over
by Sheri S Levy
GENRE: Young Adult- coming of age
Thirteen year old, Trina has chosen to raise service dogs and have puppy after puppy. But during her seven day beach vacation, Trina struggles with having to return Sydney at the end of the week and worrying about her best friend changing into a stranger. To complicate the week, Sydney, meets a young boy with autism and the girls meet his two older brothers. Tension is raised over the guys, and Trina fears she’ll lose more than her service dog. Will Trina’s lose her best friend, also?
Sydney climbed on my lap and licked the corners of my eyes. I buried my face in his soft fur and scratched under his chin. He leaned into my hand as I whispered, “We’ll have fun with or without Sarah. We just have to.”
Staring through the side window, a deep-blue summer sky flickered between pine trees covered in kudzu. Sarah’s car passed on the right. I turned the other way.
Off the freeway, we headed east and then south down a two lane road through sleepy little towns one after the other. Twenty minutes later, I leaned forward between the front seats, “Wow. Look.”
Branches from gigantic live oak trees slanted towards the middle of the street. The trees looked as though they were trying to touch each other and some did. They reminded me of my cozy canopy bed where Sarah and I had spent many nights, giggling and whispering. But this canopy was made of tree limbs in different shades of green, dripping with grayish, Spanish moss. The moss hung like ghostly long arms swinging in the wind.
“This is kind of spooky beautiful. It’s like being in a green tunnel.” I cracked my window.
A whiff of salty ocean filled the car. Sydney lifted his head as the trees whizzed by. His nose twitched. “We’re getting close, Syd.” He squeezed into the same space with me and gazed out the front window.
Suddenly, the trees disappeared. The cloudless sky stretched with no end in sight. Pelicans flew in an upside down, V formation. On both sides of the road, squiggly tidal creeks flowed through green marshlands. White birds with skinny legs stood statue-still in the shimmering water. This was a place I’d only seen in postcards.
Pelicans flew in an upside down, V formation. On both sides of the road, squiggly tidal creeks flowed through green marshlands. White birds with skinny legs stood statue-still in the shimmering water. This was a place I’d only seen in postcards.
Most mornings, my dogs played on eight-acres of pasture land surrounded in trees, until they’d get distracted by the squirrels. Using the Chuck-It-Stick, I’d fling their red balls a distance for them to chase and retrieve. Once again, the dogs spotted a squirrel dashing up a tree. They’d spit out their balls and sprint to the tree, barking and leaping at the trunk. Some squirrels are smart and stay put, but this one decided to run to another tree.
I stood, waiting for both dogs to return. This time, Slater dashed back with blood dripping from his mouth. I panicked thinking he’d bit his lip. Then Mulligan ran to me with the squirrel dangling from his mouth. I knew then Slater wasn’t hurt. He’d been the one who caught the squirrel. My stomach churned and my heart hurt, believing for the first time, they’d hurt a squirrel.
I screamed, “Drop it.”
Mulligan would drop it for a moment, letting Slater grab it. They repeated this back and forth. Even treats didn’t catch their attention. They were intoxicated with the squirrel.
After a few more attempts of playing keep-away from each other, the squirrel lay on the ground, not moving. Relieved but sad, I planned to remove the body and regain their attention. I pulled out a clean poop bag from my pouch. With my thumb and forefinger, I reached down to pick up the lifeless creature by its tail and began dropping it into my shallow plastic bag.
A second later the squirrel’s head hit the bottom of the bag, bending its head towards my hand, and clamping onto my right ring finger. Its sharp teeth penetrated both sides of my finger and I let out a thunderous, ear-piercing scream.
My hand flew from the bag, but the squirrel hung on. Shrieking, I violently shook my hand. Both dogs stood below the squirrel, their heads moving up and down.
Until it let go.
The squirrel landed at my feet just under Mulligan’s head. He tried to bite it again, but the squirrel was faster and bit Mulligan’s lip. As it hung from Mulligan’s mouth, he moaned and whined. His lip lifted the squirrel only inches, leaving the tail lying on the ground. To help Mulligan, I stepped on the squirrel’s tail. It immediately let go of Mulligan’s lip. In that instant, I grabbed the dogs’ collars, hooked their leashes, and we walked home.
Coming in the house, crying and bleeding, my husband met me. His face crinkled in concern, “What happened?”
Slater’s face had been licked clean. All the evidence had disappeared. In tears, I repeated the incident. He didn’t say a word. Only his eyes widened as my story grew.
When I explained how I had grabbed the squirrel to remove it, and how it bit me inside the bag, he started laughing, tears filling his eyes. I couldn’t believe my ears. “What in the world are you laughing at? This isn’t funny. I’m hurt.”
He held his stomach, bent at the waist, hysterical. “When you think of being bit, it’s not ever by a squirrel. Were you trying to save it?”
“Not this time. I needed to distract the dogs.”
Murphy took a look at my finger. “Let’s wash this. And then you need to call the vet and see if you need a rabies shot.” That sent my stomach into convulsions.
My daughter answered at the Vet’s office. I told her what had happened and she laughed. My eyes scrunched. What is so funny?
Dr. Hill chuckled and said, “Squirrels don’t usually carry rabies, but since you’ve been bitten, you should ask animal control.”
Murphy looked up the phone number and bandaged my finger. I called, located the squirrel, and then he drove us to the animal control office. I walked in with my right palm open, and my fingers straight-up to prevent the throbbing. I looked as if I was ready put my left hand on the Bible and say, “Everything that happened is the truth.”
I had a physical scheduled with my doctor the next day. When she walked into the exam room, my finger was wrapped in a band-aide and pointed upward. She asked, “Sheri. What did you do to your finger?”
Disappointed that she noticed, I said, “Dr. B. I’m not going to die from natural causes. It’s going to be something the dogs did to me.” I retold the whole story and added, “I thought the squirrel was dead.”
She tried to control her amusement. “Sheri.” Gasp. Smile. “It was playing possum!”
All right. I let loose and laughed. Then I added, “And No! It didn’t have rabies.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Sheri, originally from California, moved to South Carolina with her husband, two children and a Siamese cat. Soon they adopted their first rescue dog who influenced their need to continue living with dogs. Sheri taught a multi-handicapped Special Ed class, and then a GED-parenting class, which included home visits. Because of her love of reading, Sheri found unusual ways to encourage children to read. After her rescue of a difficult dog, Sheri enrolled in dog classes to change his behavior. Her dream of writing, Seven Days to Goodbye, came from the culmination of her beach experiences, her understanding of behaviors, and from research with PAALS, a service dog organization.
ISBN: 978-1-935460-74-9 EBook- 978-1-935460-75-6
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Sheri-S.-Levy/e/B00NSGMS0S
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