I waited for you today. It was freezing cold when I watched you walk to your car, even though it was the middle of the day. Not once did you even look back. If you had you would have seen me try to follow you as you opened your door, got in and turned your car on. All you said was ‘stay’ but I was confused and follow you. I was trying to to let you know you had forgotten something – me, but you weren’t paying attention. I jumped back in fright as I felt the car move forward. How could you not see me at your window looking in, pawing desperately at the window pane to get your attention? You simply stared straight ahead, gripping the steering wheel, looking a little, sad but mostly determined. What else could I do? I backed away from the car as I watched you speed away. Mud shot out from under your tires as you went, pelting me in the face. It stung and I yelped. Still you did not turn around.
I waited for you, even though I really don’t like getting wet, especially from the rain, but my coat was soaked through and I was shivering as I watched your car disappear into the distance, barely visible through the water that was pelting down from the heavens. I tried desperately to bat the drops away from face and shield my eyes, but it was no use.
Is this a game? I like playing games and I remember what fun our games used to be, but this is nothing like fetch or tug-of-war. How do I play this game? You never told me the rules. I’m sure I would have understood if you had. Instead I was left sitting on the side of a narrow road in the mud. Did I play it right? Was ‘stay’ all I was supposed to do? I’m sorry I followed you. Is that why you left, to see how far you could go from me while I ‘stay’?
I waited for you. This game hasn’t been much fun. Is it over now? Please let it be over so you can come back for me. I want to go home now. The rain has started to ease, but I’m still cold and my fur stinks of mud and wet dust. I decided to find some shelter in some bushes nearby. They do nothing to keep the rain off me but it certainly blocks the wind a little. This offers some relief from the cold at least. I know I should stay visible, but I am still near the road where I can see your car when you return for me. I have seen a few cars pass, but none of them so far have been yours. I am beginning to feel afraid. I hope you’ll be back soon. I’m hungry. It must be almost time for dinner.
I waited for you. It is getting darker and I’m growing tired. I ignored my body’s cry for sleep as long as I could, for I didn’t want to fall asleep and miss your return for me. Not even the groans of my aching stomach could keep me awake much longer. My eyes stung from the rain, tears and bitter tiredness. I finally succumb to it, but not for too long, I promise. It wasn’t a very nice sleep, not like when we used to curl up together. I was still very small then and a lot of your friends would comment how cute I was then. When did I stop being cute? Is that why you stopped giving me attention? Is that when you stopped loving me? What is that like, to stop loving someone? I always thought love was unconditional. I thought it would last forever. Am I supposed to stop loving you now? Is that the way this goes? I don’t think I can as that’s something I’ve never done before, stop loving and would take a very long time, possibly forever. Please come back and show me I don’t have to, because you still love me and I am still your baby. I miss you.
I waited for you. I waited all night under that bush. I woke up every time I heard the slightest sound, hoping it was you. It rained again and I just could not get warm again in the wet. The sun is out today so maybe I can find somewhere in the warm to dry off. My body shivers so much I can barely stand, but despite the tremors I have managed to move out from the bushes without collapsing on my shaky legs. I so am weak from hunger and there is a dryness in my mouth, that reminds me I should have a drink. I find a puddle, but it’s almost dried up. I can taste the mud on my tongue and almost gag, but I keep drinking until there is no water just mud that I am eating. I fall in a heap beside the dried up crater and try to thaw out. I close my eyes again and hope the time passes quickly. Please come and get me soon, I’m scared.
Is that you? I wake up to the sound of tires halting on the gravel. I jump up with fright, hitting my head on the front bumper. I drop suddenly from the shock and I crawl out from under the car. It’s when I stand up and shake off these last traumatic seconds that I see that this is a different car. Perhaps yours is broken and you got a ride with a friend to come pick me up? I can’t wait to see you, to look in your eyes and say sorry for everything I’ve done wrong to make you leave me here. I can’t wait to apologise for knocking the baby to the ground when I got excited to see her and for nipping at her when she pulled my tail. It hurt and that was the only way I could tell her so, but I really am sorry, just like I’m sorry for digging in the yard yesterday. I only wanted to go for a walk, not run away. You were busy and I was bored so I thought I’d take myself. I promise I’ll never do it again.
I waited for you and now you’re here!!! Can we go home now? Will my dinner be there? I hope my water bucket is full. I look so forward to drinking clean water that is free of mud! My tail wags wildly, smacking your number plate as I hear the car door open. The sharp edge feels like it’s cutting me but I don’t care. You’re here!!! I hear heavy footsteps on the ground and twigs crackling under shoes as they round the corner to the front of the car. Do you realise dogs cry, I mean really cry, with real tears? My eyes are blurred from mine and a howl escapes me, I howl not with happiness but a mixture of fright and disappointment, because those footsteps don’t belong to you and those feet in those shoes are bigger than yours. Someone has come for me but it’s not you.
“Hey little guy, what are you doing out here?” His voice is soothing but all I want to do is run from this man. How will you find me if I leave this place? I can’t let him take me away! You told me to ‘stay’ so I will fight to stay here so I don’t have to disobey you again. I am still howling and I try to run as he bends down to say hello. He is too quick, seeing my anguish he quickly grabs my collar. “It’s okay, I’m not here to hurt you,” he strokes my head but I duck. I know he is kind, but he is not you. You’re my best friend, am I still yours?
The man groans as he picks me up. I wriggle in a last desperate attempt to free myself, butting my head against his nose, but he holds me tighter, not letting me go. My howling dies down a little until it is just a whimper. He carries me around to the driver’s side and loads me into the seat of his car. With no way to jump out I am forced onto the passenger seat as the kind man climbs in. He turns on the ignition and the car roars to life. He gives me a gentle scratch behind the ear and I look into his eyes through tears. “You’re going to be okay now, fella,” he says but my whimpering continues. I lay on the seat rest my chin on the console in the middle, defeated.
I waited for you, but you didn’t come. I’m sorry I couldn’t ‘stay’.