Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SNOOZE (07/20/17)
- TITLE: Bailey's Walk
By Francy Judge
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We all went about our usual morning routines: Mom was scrambling eggs. Dad was reading his paper. I was finishing my homework, a few annoying algebra problems…until Mom asked, “Where’s Shawn? He wasn’t in his bed when I checked.”
He was usually the first one at the table, sitting straight and waiting. He could sit so still for so long, he looked like part of the chair. Bailey, our golden retriever, always curled up next to Shawn’s feet and waited with him. He was a faithful service dog and never left Shawn’s side.
Dad and I said, “Hmmm. That’s odd.”
I leaned over and looked under the table. “Bailey isn’t here either, so maybe Shawn is walking him.”
“He never takes his phone and probably lost track of time. Jason, can you go look for them so he doesn’t miss the bus?”
“He has thirty minutes before the bus comes.”
Mom gave me her look, and Dad lifted his glasses to give his look.
“Okay, I’m going, but now I won’t get my math homework done.” I mumbled as I shut the door. Shouldn’t Bailey know it’s time to get Shawn ready for school?
In some ways, Shawn is the ideal brother: he never fights with me; he doesn’t know how to tease; he only eats plain peanut butter sandwiches, so we don’t have food issues; he loves baseball like I do; and he sleeps a lot.
In some ways, he isn’t…he never fights or wrestles for fun; he doesn’t talk much; he has seizures, so we always have to be careful of triggering one; he doesn’t get jokes since his mind works different than most; he hums constantly so people stare; and he snores like a polar bear. I can hear him through the wall.
I called his name and Bailey’s as I crunched through the leaves that fell early this fall. I ran and jumped to pull a golden leaf from one of the higher branches of the ancient oak tree on our hill. I cut through the Marshalls’ field and headed toward the pond. Shawn often walked Bailey there to watch the fish swim. I passed the old shack with the broken door at the end of the property, but something made me turn back. A familiar rumbling sound. When I realized what it was, I ran to the shack and looked through the window. I was never so happy to hear that snore. Shawn was curled up on a pile of hay next to Bailey.
“Shawn! Wake up. What are you doing in here? We were looking for you. You’re gonna miss your bus if you don’t hurry.”
“What about Bailey?”
“I had to find him.”
“Have you been here all night?”
Shawn nodded. “Bailey is sleeping. A real long sleep. He doesn’t want to wake up today.”
I leaned my head over Bailey. He wasn’t breathing.” I bit my lip and had to wipe my eyes.
“Why is he sleeping so long? He has to come with me to school?”
“Let him sleep and we will get Dad to carry him home.”
“I don’t want to leave him.”
“It’s okay. We’ll get him home in Dad’s truck.”
I don’t know if Shawn understood. He patted his head. “I’ll be right back.”
As Dad and I lifted Bailey into the truck, Shawn asked, “Do you think he’ll wake up soon?”
Dad shook his head. I felt the lump in my throat growing. “No, Buddy. I’m sorry. This sleep is for forever. I’m sure Bailey was glad you were with him in the end.”
Shawn didn’t cry, but he went to sleep for the rest of the day.
Now when we walk to the pond with Cooper, Shawn tells the story of Bailey’s long sleep.
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