Monday, January 28, 2008

1963 – The Dog

I’d pressed the button to cross the highway crossing to our school gate, and was waiting for the lights to change.

I saw the elderly black and white spaniel, its black ears dragging through the footpath grass, following its nose to the edge of the road where I stood. Then, without looking up, it stepped between the wheels of a slow-moving cement truck lumbering through only a foot or two in front of me.

The truck’s back wheels rolled up and over the dog’s body, but didn’t stop. Even though it banged heavily back onto the roadway. I’m not sure the driver would have seen him, or could have stopped even if he had.

The dog twitched once, then died where it lay, without a single sound. Traffic following the truck respectfully swerved to avoid hitting the body further.

I quickly crossed when the lights changed, horrified, and told a nun on playground duty.

By lunchtime, the dog had disappeared.

But I had nightmares on and off for years, and never again crossed those lights without thinking of the dog, and how slender the gap between living and death, and how quickly, convincingly and irrevocably it could be breached.


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