Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RELEASE (08/02/18)
- TITLE: Sweet Relief
By Hannah Gaudette
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I finished spelling the words to Cody, and a chill stole through my body. So quiet . . . so dark. I wanted to sleep. Mom had told me Cody was a trained service dog, a hearing assistance dog, called a Belgian Malinios. But I was still too scared to sleep. I wanted to go to Mom and Dad's room and sleep there. And they had let me the first several nights in our new home. But now with Cody, I was supposed to stay here.
My heart thumped louder with the increase of anxiety. Cody must have sensed it - he crawled forward on my bed, rested his head on my lap. I think he might have whined, he had such a sad look in his eyes. It was one of those sounds I remembered from the days before I would hear nothing but the loudest noise ever again. I remembered our old retriever whining, our cat meowing at the door, Mom's voice as she sang hymns, Dad's laugh. I missed it, even though I'd heard those things only a few short years.
Suddenly, startling me, Cody leaped from the bed and took one stride towards the bedroom door before he turned back to push his long nose against my leg. Though I knew what he was telling me, I paused, watching him. Dogs bark. That's how they tell you someone is knocking at the door. And yet Cody didn't do that. To tell me Dad was at my door, this big, bouncy dog spoke in the only language I could understand - movements, signals, touch. Back and forth to the door, he waited for me to understand him.
As though it was he who was deaf, speaking through sign language. But he wasn't deaf - he was listening for me. My ears. Could that be enough?
Finally, I slid out of bed and motioned sideways with my arm - Cody's cue for what would otherwise be communicated as, "Release." The customary indication that his job was well done.
I opened the door for Dad to say goodnight, then I set my alarm on the nightstand. Cody would alert me to that, since I could not use the usual morning sounds of my home to wake me. As I returned to bed, Cody settled on the floor beside me. I suddenly felt not so . . . scared. The silence of my room, it didn't fill me with the same dread. Cody heard what I could not. No matter how deep a sleep either of us reached, my ears would remain open and alert.
Reaching into the dark, I spelled the letters R-E-L-E-A-S-E.
FICTION (but hearing assistance dogs are very real!)
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