Annetta felt as if she had been walking for miles yet still hadn’t found her way. It must have been at least an hour since she had left the house, and her thoughts were jumbled. She hoped that the fresh air would help – a cleansing perhaps. Maybe, a jolt of crisp air on the cusp of Spring to whip her into shape and recalibrate her spirit.
But Annetta couldn’t shake the feeling that she felt empty and lost. And she didn’t know why. In the grand scheme of things, she was thankful for so much. Yet something was missing. A checkmark in the incomplete box. Not something Annetta liked because she always preferred to finish what she started. Still, she shuddered to herself.
“Damn it, what the hell is wrong with me?”
Annetta was grateful for the extra daylight as she went from paved road to dirt road and back to the paved road again. It was quiet this late afternoon except for the farm animals holding court. And there wasn’t much traffic, either.
The country roads seemed to be the only place lately where Annetta had any chance of making sense of the misfiring in her mind. As she put one foot in front of the other, Annetta wondered to herself, “How did I get to this place of discontent?”
She. Just. Couldn’t. Shake. It.
She wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t fall. They had dried up weeks ago. She tried to scream. But instead, there were only echoes – echoes that seemed to reach as far as the winter crested mountains in the distance.
A chill was beginning to set in as Annetta rounded the last stretch. Annetta picked up her pace and turned up the volume – as if doing both might assist her in reaching that peaceful and balanced place that she so desired. She was listening to Kid Rock. At the moment, he was her Rock-N-Roll Jesus. As music bellowed in Annetta’s ears, she slowly connected with her thoughts. She kept moving.
Breathing in and breathing out, hoping to dispel the unsettled voices that kept nagging her. It had been such a long trek these past few years.
The horizon stared back at Annetta as she stopped and waited to cross the road. It was both welcoming and distant and could have easily lulled her into pensiveness. But as she surveyed the perimeter before her, she saw something move. Or did she? Her eyes sometimes deceived her.
Annetta decided to slow her pace.
“Damn, don’t let it be a bear,” she thought.
Annetta held out hope that they were still in hibernation. A rationalization that she settled on to put her mind at ease.
Annetta cautiously approached and breathed a sigh of relief when she realized it wasn’t a bear after all. Fur the color of the midnight sky, and with a muscular build, he stood solemnly in the grass to the side of the road. Regal in stature as if this beautiful creature were watching over this domain. Annetta didn’t know why she thought he was a bear at first, other than that one time when it was one.
Annetta had been down this route many times before and yet had never seen him before.
“Strange,” she thought.
But then again, you never know. She could sense that he was friendly, and as she approached, he sat down. Annetta slowly walked up to him and put her hand down in front of his snout for him to sniff. Acknowledging the nod of approval in his eyes, she knelt to pet him. In that instant, Annetta’s heart melted.
His eyes were so soulful and radiated unconditional love. And those ears, floppy and soft as velvet.
“Such a beautiful boy,” Annetta said to him as she stroked his ebony fur and massaged his thick neck.
He looked at her with his neck tilted in complete relaxation, and his jowls formed a smile. A flood of emotion came over her as she connected silently and by touch with this handsome creature. Enamored with their bonding Annetta neglected to notice that he didn’t have a collar. A bit perplexed, she took further stock of his appearance. He seemed healthy and playful and didn’t have the obvious signs of a dog who had been lost and wandering. Never had she seen a tail wag so excitedly. It was clear he was happy to have a new friend. And at that moment, Annetta was delighted to have one too.
Annetta couldn’t bear the thought of this lost dog, and she hated the idea of leaving him behind without seeking out his home.
“What if he was lost? What if someone was missing him tonight?” she thought.
Almost as if he could sense Annetta’s concern, he gently jumped up on her. Hugging Annetta with his massive paws and nuzzling his head into her chest, the jolt of his weight caused her to misstep a bit.
“Well, hello there, buddy!” she said to him as she hugged him back.
“Such a good dog. Such a sweet boy. Are you lost, buddy?”
There was nothing but pure happiness in his deep, brown eyes.
“Where do you live, fella?” Annetta asked.
“As if my conversation with this mysterious canine would render a response,” she thought.
There was only one thing to do, and it was worth a shot.
“Okay, boy. Let’s go. Let’s see if we can find your owner”, Annetta said as she gently nudged him down from her chest.
As she started on her way, she patted her side and said: “Come on, boy.” And just like that, her new-found friend walked dutifully next to her. And for a few minutes, Annetta’s discontent had all but dissipated.