Puppy Love 15


I stayed around for the season of grief. I couldn’t leave when they needed me, though I wasn’t sure how to comfort them. Miss Molly took the loyal spot, sleeping at the graveside.


Tanvi tells me it takes time. Time is something that’s tangible here, in this dimension. I’ve lost its grasp unless I play music, and then the notes and rhythms ground me, connecting movement to moment.

Bach buried nine children; he was intimate with grief. I played the partitas. Lucas listened, and Otter sang along. I thought it helped, temporarily, at least.


But Lucas wept in his sleep.


It was he who discovered, when he woke before the sun, the best balm for the grieving heart, love.


Mochi missed her mate.


But she still had her companion.

As sorry as her weeping eyes, her laughing ones sparkle bright. Who received the most comfort, the man or dog? Love brings solace to both.


Crackers followed Lucas to the field where he painted the line that marched across his life: all these passings.


The next afternoon when Lucas and Dustin headed down to the cove, I blew along beside them.


We found an intelligent female boxer. Dustin liked her all right, and Lucas liked her a lot.

She was hungry, dirty, without a collar.

“She’s a stray,” I whispered to Lucas. “You could bring her home!”

He thought about it.



By the time he opened his eyes to ask her if she wanted to come with us, she’d trotted off down the beach, and she didn’t come back when Lucas called.

And that’s when we met Chloe.

The elegant collie trotted up to Lucas and sniffed his hand.


Doggies! she said. I think that’s when she fell in love with Lucas.


She jumped up to him and whispered in his ear. Take me! I’ll follow you home!


Lucas loved her back.


And when she came bounding through the garden to play pounce with Otter, we all laughed so hard that we forgot, just for the moment, that we’d ever felt sad, and then we felt that tired sting around the eyes, but our smiles pushed it back.

We’ve got Chloe the Collie to make us happy now.


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Whisper 2.13

Hey, Riley!

How’s it all at home?

Man, these last few weeks of the term have flown by!

At a party the other night, I ran into Jaclyn, one of the first people I met here, and we were realizing that in just a few days, we’ll graduate.


I haven’t really been doing much besides studying, painting, and hanging out with Shannon.

Oh, the other day, I did train one of my dorm mates. She’s a werewolf.

“Hey, you like dogs, right?” she asked me.

When I nodded, she said, “Then train me! I want to be able to run faster!”

“What kind of techniques do you want me to use?” I asked her.

“You know. Like you’d use with a dog. Or a wolf. Really hard-core stuff. I’ve gotta get in shape!”

“How about I train you like a person who wants to get in shape?” I asked.


At the end of the session, I think she was wishing I had trained her like a dog. There’s no way I’d be that hard on a pup! But a person? I can make a person sweat!


Of course I’m painting whenever I get a chance. I love it so much! I’m still not really that great. My prof says I’ve got a “primitive sense of color and composition,” but then he follows it up with, “and I’m not usually so lavish in my praise.” Ha! So, I guess, maybe I’m developing a style, even if I don’t think it’s that good.

It is ridiculously fun, though. I can see why Mom painted all the time.


My dorm mates are pretty cool. They tend to be quiet and keep to themselves, but every now and then, a few of us will meet in the dining room while we’re grabbing a quick snack before the next class.


Mom always told me about all the good friends she made in University. But, though I’ve met a lot of people, I’ve really only made one friend, Shannon.

That’s OK, though. I know I’ve got a gajillion friends waiting for me at home, and I really didn’t come to college to make friends. I came to learn, as naive as that sounds.

And I have learned so much!


Lately, I’ve been thinking about how pieces fit together. It started when I was jogging home from class, really, and I felt how my joints fit together, then the muscles around the bones. Then I thought about that whole network of blood vessels and nerves and how they traverse and connect all these disparate parts of the body.

Everything fits.


It’s like that in communities, too–like here at the University, we’ve got all these people, students and profs and hangers-on, and they all fit to make up this place.

And it’s like that with pieces of knowledge, how little archaic bits of data and information fit together to create something awesome.

And it’s like that with families, too.

Dang! I’m late. I’ve got to head off to my finals! I’ll finish this letter later!



Hey! I’m back!

So… we got our final results this morning…


What do you think? You wanna make a bet that I failed?



I aced those babies! I got an A in every class! Which means… I’ve graduated, Riley!

Yes, indeedy! You’re now reading the writing of a college graduate, with college honors and a fine arts degree! Woot!


I just got out of the graduation ceremony. In fact, it’s taken me so long to finish up this letter that I’ll have to drop it off in the mailbox on the way to the airport, which means you’ll probably see me home before you get his letter!

I know. I could bring it home with me. But isn’t it more fun when I check the mail at home, and then I get to call out to you, “Hey, Riley! You got a letter!” Ha!

I know I’m all giddy now, but I felt pretty awe-struck and serious at graduation.

I was there alone, which actually made it more significant for me.

Shannon says she doesn’t do good-byes. And you know that I don’t like them, either. So when I left her still sleeping in my bed, I just left. It’s like it’s not over if there’s no goodbye. It just carries on, only I happen to be back in Moonlight Falls and she happens to be here at the university.


When the ceremony finished, I wanted to leave a mark there on the sidewalk outside the auditorium. I spray-painted a mural. I think Mom would approve.


I saw Jaclyn outside the auditorium.

“How’s this for symmetry?” I asked her. “You were the first person I met, and it looks like you’ll be the last one I talk with before I leave!”

“Oh, you’ll be back, though, right? I can always tell. Some students aren’t happy with just one degree.”

You know, Riley, I think maybe she’s right. And I hope that when I come back for my next degree that you’re here with me, too. And maybe Patches and Bo! We can get Mara to look after Zoey and Roxy, and we can rent a little house here on campus. I’m ready! What do you say?


When I got back to the dorm to pick up my luggage, all my dorm mates came out to say good-bye. I kept looking around for Shannon, but she was long gone.


And now, I’m guessing that this letter is feeling jealous of me, for I’ll be seeing you before this letter does! I hate to seal it up and stick it in the mailbox, for then it’s got its long, lonely trip in the mailbag, but I can see my plane taxiing in to the gate, and soon they’ll be calling us to board.

Oh, Riley! I did it. I got my degree–well, my first one at any rate–and I had my college experience, complete with a Big Love and all!

I won’t even say goodbye as I finish up this letter, for I’ll be seeing you so soon… and when I wrap you in a big hug, I’ll say…



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