Do you remember a time when a tan sun speckled mound– barely high to you and I but a pyramid to them– stuck to the heat griddle sidewalk of mid-August and caught your eye? And when you kneeled to the ground without a care for your scarred kneecaps hitting the radiating heat, a line or maybe just a few black garden ants carried on with their duties, oblivious to you and your wondering eyes. Perhaps you let them be, or maybe you covered the hole that led to their queen, and later wondered, and then cried about how you could do such a thing to these creatures whom had no care as to whether you watched their duties or not.
You rode bikes, perhaps with a friend known from birth or older brothers, down the bumbling grass-filled hills and rolling fertile soil of the local park at deep summer when the sun simmered to a disk in twilight. And joyously running past you feeling the wet grass underneath their potato paw pads were dogs of all kinds: an aging beagle with a tunnel bark, prancing golden retriever pups, the neighborhood american bulldog with a single patch around its eye, and a lost but newly found terrier mix. You may have made up a story in your head about journeying in perilous Mayan jungles with guardian lion canines galloping alongside to freedom. The sounds of the penetrating caty-bugs zip-zip-zipping guided you home. The caty-bugs stuck their thrumming bodies to the screen door to let you in.
The same friend known from birth swore her stuffed animals came to life when she left the room. You believed her naturally, so you set Snowy the snow leopard on the kitchen counter top next to a bowl of water. You left for a few hours to play dolls and cars with the friend. Later on in the lazy heated afternoon when tossing back and forth Nips the beanie baby, you realized the stuffed animal was still alone. Both of you raced through the hallway and stopped abruptly before the kitchen. You peered around the corner to catch the first glimpse of real magic. Snowy’s face was dunked in the cool water. The rest of her long body rested still on the counter top.
You accidentally threw your dog’s favorite tennis ball over the white brick wall that seemed taller than the Great Wall of China. It landed, to your dismay, in the elusive neighbor’s backyard. The ball landed in that particular backyard because the universe has a knack to stir random acts into sorrowful, happy ends. Your dog must have penetrated you with the same adoring eyes from day one of her rescue, questioning where her most absolutely adored ball went. It is behind your back. Surely it is! She pleaded with her eyes. No. It was not behind your back, nor was it slyly resting in one of your palms. You considered jumping the wall, which was standard protocol back in the rough-n-tumble days. It seemed different then. As you grew up, the world appeared more daunting and regulated, thus influencing your decisions. So you told your dog you’d be right back, and sprinted out the front door. You slowed to a walking pace to not appear… odd… You approached the front porch step of the elusive neighbor, telling yourself it was worth it in the name of your dog’s most favorite tennis ball. He answered in his robe and hair pulled back in a pony tail. “Yes?” I said, “Hello, I accidentally threw my dog’s tennis ball in your backyard. Would you please get it for me?” He said, “Yeah, yeah.” and slammed the door. Your dog never got her most favorite tennis ball back.