I felt lonely. I felt depressed. I felt dejected. The sun shone brightly, but I wished for rain to hit my face so I could hide the tears that never fell, anyway. The tangible man left me alone, again, like he always did. He didn’t understand my grind.
Then, a sliver of hope announced itself, quietly. In the afternoon.
He walked along the concrete sidewalk beside the Bay and a small leashed dog trotted obediently alongside. He walked with a dancer’s grace and an athlete’s control. His flip-flops slapped against his heels and a breeze rustled the palm tree that separated us. He strolled with the vitality of youth because he couldn’t be old enough to shave, yet, could he?
Beige board shorts, and a black tank top. Sun-bleached hair. Ray-Bans. Tanned skin. The dog wore a fluffy white coat in the summer breeze.
The man caught me watching him.
I felt bold. “He’s so cute. What’s his name?” I asked, pointing down at the dog.
“Her name is Hazel. My girlfriend’s dog. She has a thing for Watership Down. I don’t know.” His voice drifted off. He had no idea the significance of Hazel’s name.
Hazel’s paws touched my knee and I squatted down to her level. I rubbed her cottony head and the tiny pink tongue touched my fingers. So expectant and so deserving in the same instant. Her dark eyes scrutinized me and she smiled.
“What breed is she?” I asked. Not quite a poodle.
“Bichon Frise. I don’t know.”
I talked to the dog. “Hello, Hazel. You are a sweet puppy!” Her tailed waved.
She glanced quickly at the man on the other end of the tether that held them together. Expectation crossed her face. I scratched under her chin and the tail waved far more vigorously. The man reached down and unclipped the leash. He pulled a blue ball from his pocket and he sailed it into the air. “Get it, Hazel,” and white fur was off a second later, tires screeching on the start line.
The ball bounced once and Hazel jumped up to catch it. She ran back to the man, ball in her teeth, laughing as only a dog can. Her tail wagged furiously, eager for another run. The man threw the ball, again. Hazel caught it before it hit the ground.
“She’ll do that all day. I don’t know.,” he said.
Hazel dropped the ball at my feet and I picked up the slimy toy and tossed it as far as I could. Twice, three times, I threw the ball. The man grew restless. I gave him the ball and he scooped the little dog up in his arms, spun around to return the way he came.
I hope I see Hazel, again. I smiled watching her fluffy tail wag as the man carried her away, no more thoughts of rain clouding my day.
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