by Benjamin Andrew Moore
I had to save it. It was just so small and helpless, like me.
I’d always wanted a doggie, more than any other baby animal in the whole world or even the universe. More than a peacock or a kitty or a lion or a space cow, or even an elephant. A doggie that kissed me on the face with really, really wet kisses whenever it saw me, and wagged its tail and loved me like all the other kids’ doggies love them. You know how love feels? Grandpa says it’s tingly and warm and real cozy, like being next to a fireplace during winter with a wool blanket wrapped around you. I wanna feel that warm feeling. It’s been so long since I felt that feeling for real. I think I felt it when Mommy used to hug me, when Mommy used to kiss me, when Mommy was here to tuck me in at night. If I imagine that feeling now, the way it used to be, I feel warm and cozy and tingly. Does that mean I love that feeling, the feeling Grandpa said was love?
It was so small and helpless when I found it, and crying, too. How could I leave it where it was, in the gutter with no one to take care of it and put it to bed at night? It was like I was. Its mommy was gone, it prolly never even had a Daddy, and it was just so sad and lonely with no one to love and hold it while it wagged its tail. Except it didn’t have a grandpa to take care of it like I did, so it was even worse off than me, which is saying a lot.
It needed me. It needed to be loved like Mommy loved me, like its mommy used to love it, and that’s why I took it with me and showed it to teacher. That’s why I lied about needing to take it or else a man in a truck would’ve hurt it on accident. Only I could love it like it needed to be loved, because only I knew what it was like to lose a Mommy. Everybody in class smiled a lot and was real happy that I found a puppy and gave it to them and made it their puppy. It wasn't their puppy, but it felt so good to make them happy that I didn’t wanna tell them they was wrong.
And the puppy loved the class, too. It loved everyone. After a while, it didn’t hardly remember me it loved them so much. I was sad, and lonely, and I didn’t want it to love them more than me. It was my puppy. I had saved it and loved it and hugged it, and I was the person whose face it first licked. Why couldn’t it love them a little, and me a whole lot? I don’t care if it loves them some, but—why couldn’t we be best friends more than everybody, and eventually family, too? I just wanted to feel that good feeling, and it was making me feel a bad feeling instead. One that was cold and empty, like ice cubes that melt in the middle after being in the sun for too long. So I got mad at it, and I hurt it, and I made it cry and stop barking or licking. I didn’t mean to do that, I swear I didn’t, but it felt so cold. My stomach hurt and I put the puppy away and came home and cried and couldn’t sleep at all. Whenever I closed my eyes to sleep, I kept hearing it whine inside my head because of what I did. Why couldn’t you just love me like Mommy loved me, like I loved you, like we promised we would?
But it’s okay, because I’m gonna go back today and tell you how sorry I am, and kiss you and make you feel better, and then you’ll kiss me too and we’ll go back to being how we was, only better. We’ll be the best. The best friends in the whole wide world, and we’ll love each other more than anybody, and anything. I love you, doggie. I love you and I wish I could take you home with me, so we could sleep together and be a real family. I love you so much it hurts.