Lost and Found

Fiction By Amy // 3/15/2005

I had never been one of those people who liked to pop up at the first sign of day-the beauty of things was very often lost on me-I was care free; and also oblivious. However, I always made sure that I was up when the mail came; for a special reason.
Our mailman was never in much of a hurry, so my sheltie, Nellie, and I would sit by the end of our driveway every morning at 7:30, and wait for him. I seldom got any mail, but I always knew the second I did because the mailman would say “Hey, Ruth, hey Nellie, you’re fan mail is pouring in today!” which meant there was mail for me, or “Hello girls, no news.” when there was none.
The mailman’s name was Mr. Robert Miller. He drove his mail truck in a slow, easy way, and his movements where the same. He always stopped just so he could reach the mailbox, and I think he could probably reach the wooden sign we had with out last name painted on it, too. He always read that sign out loud, as if he had never been there before and he was pronouncing the new name carefully, so that he wouldn’t forget it. “Shi-shal.” He’d read.
One morning he drove up and his face looked sad and tired. He was fifteen minutes late, which was odd, because though he was never in a hurry, he was usually punctual.
“Shi-shal.” He read. Paused. then said “Hello, girls, no news.” and his voice was even more drawn out than usual.
“Hi, Mr. Miller” I said, as cheerfully as I could “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, bother. I’m having a bad day.” He said, in a voice that sounded like his day was worse than just bad.
“What happened?”
“Nothing to worry you about, girls. How’s Nellie today?”
“Nellie’s great! I hope you feel better, Rob.” I was a little mad that he wouldn’t tell me, but I decided to drop the subject. “Well, I’ll see ya tomorrow!”
“Planning on it.” He said. He handed me my parent’s mail and drove off.
As I went into the house I tried to think of what could be bothering Rob. Normally I didn’t worry about other people’s problems, but I was eager to know what the matter was. It seemed that routine was one of Rob’s favorite things. No matter what, he always did things exactly how he had always done them. This must be something serious.
I walked into the house.
“What are you doing, Ruth?” my mother asked.
“Thinking.” I replied in a far off manner that plainly showed that thinking was indeed what I was doing. Thinking hard.
“Can you take the trash out, please?” She asked.
“Hmmm? Trash? Oh, sure, Mom.” I said and took it out absent mindedly, concentrating the whole time on what could be bothering Rob. Mom must have been pretty surprised: I hated to take out trash! I didn’t like to think about things like garbage. “Well, now.” I said to myself. “ What does Rob care most about? He likes plants, but he’s never really sad about them, perhaps he would be angry if someone needlessly ruined them. But this was different.
“Maybe a relative passed away. No, Rob doesn’t have many relatives, and they all live near us. I would have surely heard about it.
“Possibly it’s about his job. No, he would have told me, because it would effect me very much. He said it was nothing I should worry about. And what am I doing? Worrying! Do I doubt him, or is my curiosity just overwhelming me? Maybe a little of both. It must be something very important. Rob may need my help. And, I am curious.”
* * *
The next day Rob seemed the same. I pestered him a little more, trying to pry out what the problem was, but I got nowhere.
“I’m so nosy! It’s really none of my business.” I would tell myself one minute, but then the next I would be saying that it did matter, because Rob was one of my best pals, and his problems should be mine, and I ought to be able to help, even though he doesn’t think he needs it.
Nellie walked over to me, and started begging to be petted. Of course I knelt down and stroked her head. Oh, I do love Nellie! Rob told me once a couple of years ago about his dog. He said it was a German Sheppard named Timmy. He must be very fond of his dog. he talked about him so lovingly. Maybe tomorrow I’ll ask Rob about his dog, that might cheer him up some.
And so that is what I did. Rob came in the same way he had, even slower than normal.
“Hi, Rob! How’s Timmy?” I jumped right in, blowing consequences aside as usual, so Rob wouldn’t have a chance to leave before I asked him.
“Timmy….” He said in a far off voice and looked up at the sky, as if looking for something. “do you remember Timmy, Ruth?” His voice was getting more and more drawn out.
“Yes, you told me about him a couple of years ago.”
“Hmmm. I, um, well, I’d better go now, Ruth. Bye girls.” He handed me the mail quickly and drove off. “That’s strange.” I thought. “He didn’t seem to want to talk about Timmy. I wonder why not?”
That night I lay awake for hours, trying to figure out what Rob’s trouble was. Finally, an idea came to me. “Maybe Timmy’s sick, and Rob’s worried about him. I’ll ask him about it again tomorrow.”
That was all I thought about until Rob pulled up. I planned on asking him right after he said “Hello, girls, no news.” One problem was; that’s not what he said. “Shi-shal.” He enunciated. Then said “Hey Ruth. Hey Nellie. Your fan mail is pouring in today.” He didn’t say it with any energy, just dragged it out like he had with everything else recently. But just then I didn’t pay attention, because the letter was from my friend, Maggie who lived in Florida. I was so happy I didn’t even say anything to Rob.
When Rob handed me the letter a big, bright smile popped up across my face. Nellie and I ran into the house and went straight to my room to read it:
Dear Ruth,
I am so sad! Our dog, Lily died last month. I still can’t get over it.. She was so dear to me. As you know, dogs are part of the family. In fact they are the best listeners in the whole house, and they sympathize in the best way, you know. Licking your face could be called sympathy, couldn’t it? Of course it can. You know, Ruth.
It was the worst feeling I ever had when we woke up in the morning and Lily was cold and lifeless. We cried bucketsful. I couldn’t write to you immediately, because the words would be washed out with tears, even now I can’t help but drop a few on the letter as I write. I think of all the memories that we made together, and I wish we could add more to them. I think of how she had all her special quirks, all her pesky little things that annoyed me a little then, that I would give almost anything to see her do again. The things that comfort me the most are that Lily was really, really, happy with us, and she loved us, and she had about as good a life as a dog can have. And we loved her, and I’m glad that we do have the memories we do, even though I want more of them.
It makes me appreciate my friends more, that I still have them, and I love them. Until now I’ve never lost anything so close to me, and I didn’t realize how wonderful that was until I lost one. We learn from our mistakes I guess.
Even if we get a new dog it will never, never, NEVER take Lily’s place. Sure, I’ll love the new dog, lot’s and lots and lots.. It will have it’s own special place. It won’t make the same whining noise when it’s hungry, it won’t greet me the same way, because just like people, no two are the same, it will still be my buddy. But it will be a whole different buddy, and in a whole different way.
Some people think that since the dog they loved so much died they will never get another one. But why? If a very dear friend died that wouldn’t mean you would never have another.
Anyway, I’ve just got to keep going. It’s just a little part of life, even if it doesn’t seem like that right now.
Much love from you friend,
Maggie

I wiped my eyes on my sleeve, cuddled Nellie closer to me, and wrote a response to Maggie:

Dearest Maggie,
You have my very, very deepest sympathy. I won’t say much, because you said all the right things, and I wouldn’t know how. Thank you, Maggie.
You are a wonderful friend! Much love and sympathy,
Ruth Shishal

I could imagine how Maggie must feel. She’d made me think about how it must feel to lose something you really loved. I put the note I wrote in an envelope, sealed it, addressed it, put a stamp on it and laid it aside to send to Maggie the next morning when I saw Rob . “Oh yes, Rob” I thought. “What if Timmy is…!?…I’m afraid that’s it! Oh, poor Rob.”
I wrote another quick note to Rob, and laid it with Maggie’s.
The next day was cloudy, which seemed appropriate because of what I was going to talk to Rob about. When his truck pulled up and he said “Shishal” and “No news, girls.” I decided to get straight to the point.
“Rob, how is Timmy doing these days?” I couldn’t ask him if Timmy had died, what if he hadn’t? I made sure my voice was gentle, though.
Rob looked at me and I think a million thoughts went through his head in the minutes that he stared at me. His faced showed plainly that they were important.
“Timmy’s gone.” He said softly, as if in reverence for him. “I think you figured that out all by yourself. You’re a smart girl, Ruth.”
“I’m sorry you lost Timmy, Mr. Miller.” I said.
“Thank you, Ruth. I’ve found something wonderful though, too, that I never knew existed. You’ve been more help then you know.” Rob answered smiling at me. What he said reminded me of the two notes I had in my pocket.
“Here.” I said handing him the one for Maggie “I’m mailing this. And here” I handed him the other. “This is for you.” I smiled softly, turned and went in the house.
I thought about the morning’s events later and I especially thought about what Rob had said last. “…I’ve found something wonderful though….” What did he mean? Then I knew: he’d found a friend who cared; and that friend was me.

The End

Comments

I like it!

Amy, What a wonderful beginning to this story. The style is just right.

Ben | Thu, 05/10/2007

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