Jasper Lynn joins in the A to Z fun during April. Today our post celebrates the letter D.
Dogs for Dana
Dana ran through the kitchen and screeched to a sudden stop. Mom was making cookies. Dana looked around the counter. She searched for the tell-tale sign that would give her a clue. Was there a bag of chocolate chips laying around? Those were her favorite cookies.
Mom held up a spoonful of the mixed batter. “Want to try a taste?”
Dana sniffed at the spoon. It smelled sweet. But she didn’t see any tiny brown morsels peeking out of the mound of dough. “What kind is it? Not chocolate chip?”
“It’s peanut butter cookies. It’s a new recipe.”
Dana wrinkled her nose in disgust. “Ugh. No thanks, mom. You know I don’t like peanut butter.”
Her mother plopped the scoop back in the bowl and stirred. “So, what kind of cake do you want for your birthday Saturday?”
Shaking her head, Dana didn’t know whether to be annoyed that her mother didn’t remember her favorite or pleased that she’d been asked. “You know. What I always pick. Chocolate. With chocolate frosting. And chocolate ice cream.”
Her mom grinned. A twinkle lit up her eyes. “I figured. I already have the mix and the ice cream.”
Dana headed towards the back door. She stopped, with her hand on the doorknob. “Mom? Can I get a puppy for my present?”
Her mother sighed. She sat the bowl down on the counter. She turned to Dana with a stern look in her eyes. “No. We’ve been over this before. Your father and I don’t think you’re ready to take on the care of a dog. You haven’t been acting responsible enough.”
Tears welled up in Dana’s eyes. Those were the excuses her parents always gave her. She’d asked for a dog for at least two years. Maybe even longer. They always said no. They always said the same thing.
This past year she’d tried really hard. She tried to keep her room clean. At least most of the time. She tried to not argue with her younger brother. Even though that was hard sometimes. She tried to remember to brush her teeth every morning and every night. She tried to clean her plate. She tried to help clear the table after dinner. She tried to hang up her wet towels. She tried to remember to toss her dirty clothes into the hamper and not push them under her bed like she used to.
After trying so hard to be good, Mom still said no to her biggest wish.
Trying not to cry, she pulled the door open with a fierce tug. “I’m going over to Jane’s to play.”
Her mom looked puzzled. “But I didn’t think you liked Jane.”
“I don’t. But she’s got dogs!” Dana raised her voice and rushed out before her mother could yell at her for her attitude.
She ran next door. Her mom was right. She didn’t like playing with Jane. Jane was bossy. She was rude. She wasn’t fun to be around. But the family had three dogs: a Beagle, a German Shepard, and a mutt with floppy ears and huge, soulful eyes.
No one was answered the doorbell.
No cars were in the driveway.
Dana heard barking in the backyard. She walked over to the gate and stuck her eye up to the knothole on one side of the latch. “Floppsy! Pongo! Fritz!”
The three dogs raced around the corner of the fence, yapping in a loud chorus. When they got to the fence, they recognized Dana’s voice and her smell. They stopped barking and started jumping on the fence, poking their noses through the hole, trying to say hi. All except for Pongo, the beagle. His short little legs didn’t let him get up that high. His tiny nose scrambled under the bottom, a tongue sticking out, trying to lick Dana’s toes.
Dana stuck her fingers through the fence. She let them lick her to pieces, at least the parts they could reach. She still felt like crying, but not as much as she had a few minutes earlier.
She didn’t want to go back home. She didn’t want to talk to her mother yet. She still felt sad. She decided to go hide in the treehouse out back for a little bit. She hoped she’d left some comic books in the treehouse the last time she was there.
One lone comic book lay in the corner. It was dusty and a bit wrinkled from the weather. But it was still readable.
Dana read the story. She’d read this one so many times she almost knew it by heart. It made her feel a little better, reading an old familiar story. By the end she was laughing.
She wanted to put a frowny face back on before she went back inside. It almost felt like a waste of time. If she was going to be good and still not be able to get a dog, then what was the use?
She decided that she’d still try to be good. She decided to continue to do all the things she’d been doing. She’d keep cleaning her room. She’d keep helping around the house. She vowed that by the time she grew up to be an adult, she’d have a houseful of dogs. No one could tell her no then.
By the time it was Saturday, Dana was still excited about her birthday. Even though she knew she wouldn’t be getting what she really wanted.
Her mom fixed her favorite meal for dinner. Tacos. After dinner, everyone sang Happy Birthday to her. She closed her eyes and wished for a dog, even though she knew she wouldn’t get one. She blew out all the candles in one long breath.
Everyone enjoyed the chocolate cake for dessert. Dana’s plate was the cleanest. She’d eaten every tiny spec of chocolate on the plate. She’s scraped it clean with the fork.
There was only one wrapped present laying on the table. It was thin and square and flat. Mom handed it to her, and Dana opened it up.
She plastered a big fake smile on her face. She held it up in front of her. “A blouse! Just wanted I wanted.” She hoped she didn’t sound too phony. She folded it up and put it back in the box. She started to stand up to leave the table.
Dad stood up. “Wait right there. There’s one more thing. I forget to bring it in from the garage.”
Dana figured it was something he’d made for her out in his shop.
He walked back in the kitchen carrying a huge cardboard box. The box was wiggling in his arms. Yips and cries came from the box.
A smile zapped its way across Dana’s face. She jumped up so fast her chair tipped backwards and fell over. She rushed to the box. “You said I couldn’t have a dog for my birthday.”
As she folded the top of the box back, puppy heads popped up.
Her mom smiled. “I did. But I didn’t say that we wouldn’t get you two!”
Dogs for Dana is a story in This and That Too, scheduled for publication May 202.
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