Afar: the photo prompt from this time last year in Sue Vincent’s #writephoto meme.
A chance remark from a friend started this one off. Another friend fostered a greyhound during the first lockdown here in England, and yet another friend adopted Barley after her previous dog died; Barley raised the alarm when she had a fall during their evening walk.
And Sue Vincent has a dog called Ani who is doing an advent calendar, starting on 1st December, and at some stage you’ll meet my guinea pigs there!
I’ll be off to have an eye operation tomorrow (they brought it forward, which is great) but I may not be online to respond to any comments to my prescheduled posts next week. Thank goodness it’s not IWSG week (that’s the week after).
The view certainly kept her attention. Jules could gaze at it for hours.
She pushed the cold coffee away from her, scraped the congealed egg into a corner, threw the toast on top of it, and stood up. Oh, darn. It was past midday already. If only there was something that needed her attention in the mornings. Something to do. Someone to go for long walks with, just like they had, together…
She stopped before she started crying again.
The phone rang.
She was standing right next to it, but she let it go to voicemail.
“Hi Jules. It’s Paula. I wondered if you’d like to come over for coffee, or something. It’s past coffee time, I suppose. Come over, anyway, I’ve got something to show you.”
She picked up. “Paula, hi.” She shrugged her shoulders into some sort of regular shape; she was a person, after all. “What’s up?”
“Come and see. Come as you are. I assume you’re not dressed for a party, anyway.”
“Er, no.” Only a pyjama party. “Okay, I’ll be right down.”
The clothes on the chair would do, she hoped.
Paula had left the door open. “Hello?”
“Come through to the kitchen—could you shut the door, please?”
Jules closed the Victorian glazed door behind her and moved through to the kitchen. Paula managed to make casual clutter look good. Her own kitchen was just a mess. But in the corner, Paula stood, holding a shivering animal to her legs.
“Come on in. Take a seat. This is Nemo. He’s a rescued greyhound, and I’m fostering him. The shelters are all full. Too many animals have been abandoned because of covid. At least he was handed back, not just thrown out.”
“How long have you had him?”
“Nearly a week. I’m sorry I haven’t been round. Didn’t think it would be fair on him, really. Do you like dogs?”
Jules thought for a moment. Was there a catch in this? “I’ve never had one myself,” she replied, truthfully.
“Well, you’ve not had one since you were here, but I wondered whether perhaps before …” Paula tailed off as most people did if they wanted to refer to the time before she and Peter had moved into the white house.
“The thing is, he needs regular walking, but greyhounds don’t actually need long walks, so I wondered if you’d like to come with us. Just for extra company, and to get him used to other people. What do you think?”
And so Jules started walking with Paula and Nemo. And then Paula and Sam, whose racing name was Somebody Named Sam. When Sam went back to be rehomed, Paula brought Barley back. He bore more relation to a fox terrier than anything else. He was used to long walks, but his owner had died.
“I’m not sure I’m a good foster for him,” Paula said. “My hip’s playing up and I don’t really want to walk more than I have to.”
“I’ll take him out for you,” Jules found herself saying. He was a cute, friendly-faced dog, and he seemed grateful for her attention.
When Barley went back to the rescue to go up for adoption, Jules went too. And brought him home with her.
The walks got longer, the days grew warmer, the relationship between dog and widow strengthened.
“What do you think, Barley,” she asked him one morning, when she was sat at the breakfast table. “Are we fit enough to walk over to the hills in the distance yet?”
Barley cocked his ears at her and gave her a quizzical stare. A small yip, and a bounce, and he padded off, returning with his lead in his mouth.
Jules smiled. Yes, it was time for a walk. Time to visit those hills far away. With a backpack and a flask of coffee, and a ball, and maybe a cagoule, just to make sure it didn’t rain on their parade. Barley had brought her back from afar; a place even further away than the distant hills.
© J M Pett 2020