The Back Of My Hand

Finalist in the 'Written in the Stars 2013' competition

We walked up to the William Street pet store and peered into the window. Xavier was my favourite from the bunch. He was the first one who came up and licked my nose. From the very beginning I knew we would become best friends.
Xavier was only a puppy, a Labrador. He had light brown fur which glowed reddish-gold in the morning sun. I’d had him for almost two years. My older brother Michael was so jealous when I got him for my eighth birthday. He would say, “How come Madison gets a dog? I’m three years older than her!” Mum would reply, “Oh Michael, please stop whinging, you’re giving me a headache.”
I carefully carried Xavier home from the pet store and we played for hours on end, not just that day, but every day thereafter. I’d sit there with him and tell him everything. He’d look at me and I swear he understood. I’d look in his brown eyes and he would stare right back at me. The next moment we’d be on our backs playing around again, running and jumping.
I’d know Xavier’s bark anywhere. It’s loud and different from other dogs. Once he even ran to school, into my classroom and onto my lap. I knew Xavier was coming, I could hear his bark from miles away. Xavier looked at Mrs Martin like he was supposed to be taking the lesson. I wasn’t humiliated though everybody was laughing at us. I felt lucky and proud.
Now, I’ll tell you about to the day when not everything went right. Sometimes dreadful things happen.
It was an ordinary day when my mum and I were walking Xavier to the park. He was yanking very hard at his leash, trying to run loose. We were half way there when Xavier’s tug was so hard that the lead was burning my hand and I had to let go. Panicking, I ran back as fast as I could to get mum. Before I knew it, I heard a car screech and a fateful yelp from Xavier. People had got out of their cars and had run towards my dog.
Amidst the chaos the elderly man who was driving the car approached me in despair, apologising and pleading to replace my dog. Xavier is not replaceable. The man fell before me with tears welling in his eyes. I was confused, I was crying and my ears were ringing. I was frozen and I didn’t know what to say. That was when my mum held my hand and knelt between me and the old man trying to comfort us both. I just sat there stroking Xavier’s soft fur as his warmth left him. My tears were the only thing connecting me with him.
That was the last time I touched Xavier. Sometimes I wake up hearing his bark.
I know that day like the back of my hand.

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