David and Bonnie

There was a boy named David. As he grew older, and left the house more, dirt began accumulating in his eyes—small particles of dirt, drifting on the breeze or shaken off by others. The particles were tiny, like dust, and difficult to see. The dirt in David’s eyes accumulated so gradually that he didn’t notice it was there—all he knew was that he didn’t see life as he used to.

One day, his parents brought home a puppy. As soon as they set her in David’s lap, she jumped up and kissed his face, licking him clean of dirt. When he opened his eyes again, his vision was as clear as when he was young, and he saw Bonnie at the center of his newly vibrant world. They became inseparable, and she slept beside him each night. Each morning, Bonnie herded David outside for her favorite activity: feeding the birds. As David tossed bird-feed into the air, Bonnie yapped and spun with glee, delighting in her swarming friends. When David came home from school, she’d come barreling towards him, and she’d knock him down and lick all the dirt from his eyes.

When it was time for David to leave for college, he hugged his parents goodbye, and when he looked at Bonnie—tail wagging, trusting that he’d be home in the afternoon—a wave of doubt washed over him. He became afraid that he couldn’t leave her. Before he could change his mind about going, he briskly patted her head and left without looking back.

David excelled in all his classes. When he’d return to his dorm with clouded vision, he’d look at pictures of Bonnie and his tears would wash the dirt away. He reminded his parents not to forget to feed the birds.

A week before finals, David awoke to a call from his parents: Bonnie, at only six, had suffered a seizure and died. David felt as if he’d been extinguished.

The only way to go on was to stay busy. He put away the pictures of Bonnie and focused on his studies. He passed his finals, and he decided not to go home for breaks. Though he continued to excel, he didn’t notice the accumulating dirt in his eyes. He graduated with honors, but when he couldn’t find work, he went home.

David’s eyes were caked in grime, allowing no light or color to enter his vision. Unable to look at the room he’d shared with Bonnie, he went outside. Amidst all the shades of gray, he noticed a new stone beneath the birds’ favorite tree. He crouched down to read it: Forever in our hearts—Bonnie. The dam in his heart burst, and he tipped back, just as when Bonnie would knock him down and overwhelm him with kisses—but his arms were empty. His sobs wracked his body in thunderous convulsions, flooding him, finally flowing free.

When the flow of tears finally stopped, David opened his eyes to a blue sky.

Talk story

  1. henruniv says:

    This spoke to me. As a young boy (many decades ago), I had a dog and I still remember everything about her, down to her smell. There’s something about an animal you bond to in childhood, isn’t there. What a great piece. Keep writing!

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