Marion Evan’s helped her daughter Claire unpack her belongings before leaving. After placing silverware in the kitchen drawer Marion dissolved into tears. She hugged her daughter good-bye and whispered, “It is so hard to let you go, but more than anything I want you to be happy.” As Claire waved from the second story apartment window she didn’t understand why her mother was so emotional.
Claire found ‘Ebony' her freshmen year. The whimpering bundle of jet black fluff was shaking while devouring discarded hotdogs outside of the student grill. Unable to turn a blind eye Claire tucked the pup inside her parka and walked home. Home to a lonely studio apartment sparsely filled with classical records and sheet music. As the grey sky began to spit snow Claire was happy to have Ebony, but knew deep down she couldn’t keep her.
Three years later Claire had plans of touring Europe once she graduated from college. As a talented pianist she had always dreamed of traveling the world and playing music. For hours on end Ebony would lay beneath the piano as the music of Bach and Mozart filled the room.
But Ebony liked nothing better than running. If she didn’t get to go on her daily run she was destructive. There was a perpetual pile of shredded sheet music. When she really got bored she gnawed on the piano bench legs.
Ebony would always sit in the chair by the window and wait for Claire to come home. By the time Claire entered the apartment Ebony would already have her dog leash in her mouth. Ebony was always ecstatic to see Claire return and would retrieve her leash and repeatedly drop it at Claire’s feet. Claire swallowed hard when her eyes met Ebony’s. In a few short weeks she would be graduating and leaving to tour in Europe.
The dog loved people -all people. This gave Claire comfort in knowing that when she did give Ebony up she would easily adapt. They spent countless hours together running in Dogwood Park while Claire silently prayed she would find a loving home for Ebony.
Each April Dogwood Park hosted its annual “Bark in the Park.” Claire always took Ebony to the festival. Ebony enjoyed seeing all of the other dogs and begging for free hotdogs from the hotdog vendor.
It was a mild and beautiful day. As Claire sat on the warm grass Ebony looked to her with wise brown eyes. Claire looked to Ebony and forced a smile, “It will be okay girl.”
An elderly couple approached Claire. The man had a kind face and asked if he could pet Ebony. Ebony proceeded to lick his hand. Claire watched the tender wordless exchange. She could see tears mount in the man’s eyes before he turned to walk away.
His silver- haired wife apologized. “I’m sorry dear; we have a sheep ranch in Dixon County. I think your dog reminds him of a dog he once had. ‘Lady’ would run down the driveway to greet him each time he returned home from town. One day she got too close and ran right under the truck. He hasn’t been the same ever since. I brought Warren here to see the adoptable shelter pets today, and I’m hoping he will find a dog he likes.”
Claire sat speechless; she could clearly see the angst in the woman’s eyes. Meanwhile Ebony watched Warren’s every move.
Warren spent time with the adoptable dogs but then sadly walked away. Erma saw him wipe a tear from his eye. Erma sighed, “Well, I guess we will be going now.”
Ebony whimpered as Warren and Erma neared the exit to leave. Claire stood to her feet, “Please-wait!”
The couple turned to see Claire approaching, Ebony trotting alongside. Claire choked back tears before speaking, “I’m graduating in a couple of weeks and will be touring in Europe with the orchestra. Would you consider adopting Ebony? Claire offered the leash to Warren with both hope and heartbreak. Warren gently took the leash. Both Warren and Erma smiled with gratitude as they looked to Claire. Claire knelt down to give Ebony a long heartfelt hug good-bye. They all agreed to keep in touch.
As Claire walked home she looked to her empty apartment window and her heart ached. Then suddenly she understood her mother’s wise words, “It is so hard to let you go, but more than anything I want you to be happy.”
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