Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Salt and Pepper (07/24/14)
- TITLE: The Mark of Time
By Jolene Laughlin
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The dog hadn't been Emmy's idea. She'd shown up about a week ago, her coat dull and faded, backbone and ribs jutting out in high relief. Definitely a stray, but one of the cheery, optimistic kind with sparkly brown eyes and perky ears with the tops flipped down. Her nose had been all business, however, as she followed it up the walkway onto the porch where the smell of Emmy's beef stroganoff wafted through the screen door.
Little Elizabeth, playing with a string of beads and some magnetic letters in the floor, hadn't noticed her right away and Emmy had scooted to the door and shut it firmly before she could. Her granddaughter had most definitely inherited her love of animals, and that was probably not a good thing. Strays had been the source of many a marital conflict for her and Davy. His outlook had been simple; with four children they couldn't afford animals, especially the damaged ones. Emmy couldn't turn them away. For years she'd smuggled left-overs out and animals in, bandaged cut paws, splinted broken limbs, and bottle-fed orphans. She'd appropriated eggs from her chickens and vegetables from Davy's garden to exchange for un-billed veterinary favors and out-of-date antibiotics.
Anymore though, Emmy saw things more his way. Volunteering at the nursing home in the mornings and babysitting Elizabeth in the afternoons kept her plenty busy. Besides, Davy would be retiring at the end of the year and they'd made plans for that long ago. Plans to travel, not plans for a dog.
Emmy had just reached for the phone to call Shirley, whose daughter helped at the animal shelter, when Davy's measured footsteps had echoed across the porch. She'd paused, waiting for his reaction to the interloper. Instead of a frustrated growl, though, laughter had merged with the warmth of his voice and he'd pushed the door back open. "Emmy? Em? Come see. I brought you something. Is Ellie still here?"
Before Emmy could hang up the phone, tiny footsteps pattered through the kitchen "Pop! Pop! Poppy!" Elizabeth had run straight to her Grandpa-and nearly tripped over her new "buppy" Jingles. Of course, Jingles hadn't found her way to Emmy's house alone. She'd ridden there in style on the seat of Davy's pick-up after he'd spotted her behind the old mill making a meal out of road kill. Elizabeth was ecstatic.
A flea bath, a collar, and a week of good meals later, and Jingles was as much a part of the family as Emmy was. Emmy shook her head and smiled out the window as Elizabeth's happy chortles drifted back in.
"It seems like things reverse as you get older, Emmy," her mamma had said after Ruby was born. "Your daddy was never like this when you came along. He was so worried about making money and providing for our every little need that he worked in his sleep. He never took the time to enjoy life or bein' a daddy. Now, he's got a soft heart for ever'thing, 'specially this grand baby, and I'm just thinkin' of the work she'll be for you. Seems like the salt and pepper years make men a little softer and women a little harder. Time changes things. You'll see."
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