Do you remember Lily, when her fur was black from the tips of her ears to the upwards ringed tail, and her eyes clear and dark and simply bubbling out with liveliness? Behind our house was a park, almost a forest, a great place to take a dog for a walk. Lily used to run and turn and jump and bark and chase butterflies or grasshoppers. She never caught anything, was simply pure excitement about the trails of the great bears and hungry wolves and other monsters, that would undoubtedly kill everybody if she didn't track them down. She could stand quite still and then jump straight up like a dear - it looked so easy until you saw her muscles under her black short hair - like a small Arab horse. Her big dark eyes seemed even bigger and about to pop out, the pointed ears quivered each time she moved her small head and she showed two rows of white sharp teeth, obviously almost wild and beside herself:
"Where is the monster, where?! I'll tear it to pieces - WHERE?!
Never without dignity though, every single inch a grand lady.
I think you would have liked that, you are now as old as your mother was then.
As time dripped and went by, she jumped lower and lower and one day her beautiful dark eyes got silver moons in the middle, moons that got bigger each year - and one day I had to put this beautiful and proud creature on the leash to keep her from bumping against everything and she got this scared look she never had before.
Do you remember?
But it was the good days I wanted to tell you about, about the forest and the holes I had to pull her out of: a rabbit warren or the cave of a great grizzly - who knows?
On a bright day, the summer had been hiding itself behind clouds producing rain, rain and rain for weeks, and now everything looked new and green and clean and the smell of adventure and a new world filled the air. Lily hated water, jumping over the biggest puddle like it was a ladybug and didn't even drink the stuff unless there was a little milk in it.
What?! she seemed to say, if I was so clumsy to forget the milk. Water?! Do you want to poison me?!
It was a torture to force her to take a walk when it rained, she always seemed to disappear and I had to call and yell, but it was no use: when I came back, weary and worried and a little mad, she was always sitting in front of the door with her ears and tail down and looking like I had tried to drown her. - So you can imagine how happy she was the day the rain stopped at last and the sun had sneaked out from behind the clouds.
Of course everything was still very wet, and I had some difficulty pulling her out of a very deep hole she had found under a tree.
Suddenly the soft forest soil under my feet seemed to collapse. Instinctively I grabbed Lily and we fell or sank about two minutes down a sort of slope underneath the tree. The earth would have sucked us up deeper if we hadn't got tangled in the branches of an uprooted tree. For minutes I sat stunned, unconsciously ruffling Lily behind the ears like most dog friends do without thinking much.
Then I looked around.
It was pitch dark.
Far, far above - or beneath? - us I discovered a light as big as the rather small window of a cellar. This light probably saved us. I guessed or felt the boulders and bushes and branches more than I could see them, and for fear of losing Lily simply tucked her underneath my sweater. It was hard work getting up or down there. - Have you ever climbed up a mountain in the dark? no? I don't think I ever got so many scratches, bumps and bruises. That was bad enough - but not the worst. The worst came when
Snip - just like that.
The impudence of it all, especially after my odyssey up the mountain, don't you think? Impulsive as I sometimes am, my right hand clutched one of the many stones that were all over the place and I threw it at the place where the light had come from. We heard a loud TOCK! which made Lily bark and then a pffff! and the light appeared again...
Really: it gave me the creeps. A couple of minutes later the light vanished and it was dark again. This time I needed five stones until the TOCK! awarded me and I hurried to get as far up as I could before the light: pfff! - damn it, off again!
I repeated this procedure for at least an hour, the last little piece I managed in total darkness - my last baseball game was too long ago and my arm felt like it was already off.
There it was:
I was already beyond the point of horror, was freezing and very tired and just groped on like an old woman looking for her teeth. - But stop - what was that...?
Shivering in spite of myself I lifted my hand and pulled - and the light that exploded directly in front of me made me close my eyes dazzled...
"Really, Mom!" someone in the darkness behind me said reproachfully. "Shut the fridge, will you? You know that cake is for Gaby's birthday tomorrow!"
So always remember: don't go to bed with an empty stomach. - Good night.
© 2005 hexandthecity's mascot LILY, who died on January the 7th, 2005 - one day before her nineteenth birthday.