In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Dog Named Bob.
“Now, isn’t it nice of your brother to allow us to spend some proper time together? I mean, we’ve only been going out for almost a year now, yet I have never recalled us spending time together”…
Coral’s high-pitched voice drifted out of my awareness I remembered exactly the reason I never spent time with my older brother’s girlfriend-she was a prissy, irritating blabbermouth. I couldn’t for the life of me decipher just just what Gary saw in her. He was a straight-laced teller at the local bank, she was a happy-go lucky free-lance artist who specialized in crappy ceramic plates with crows on them (or were they supposed to be unusually dark bluejays?- I was never quite certain), and abstract paintings of animals created with ink.
In fact, Gary was the reason Coral even had a job in the first place- she’d visited the bank where he worked in order to take out a loan for the business. By the time she’d finished getting the cash, she’d somehow managed to score a date with my brother in the process. I knew that I ought to give Gary a break- after our mother passed away when I was 13, he, at 23 years old, was appointed as my legal guardian, and the previous four years hadn’t been easy for either of us. I’d never gotten on with any of his other girlfriends. The expiry date for each of his relationships was after at least six months, so why was Coral still hanging around after ten? I was going to turn 18 in two months, so I didn’t need a babysitter, and besides…
“Natalie”? Coral’s falsetto squeak broke through my reverie. With much reluctance, I turned to face her. “I was just wondering if you’d like to have a look at some drawings that I drew for the stall.I’d like someone to check through all my sample sketches to make sure that they’d be recognizable when I convert them into my own inky creations! It’s our special sale- two ink paintings for the price of one! Isn’t it a fantastic offer?” There was a blatant trace of enthusiasm in her request that I had no choice but to comply. I laid down my half-eaten pancake with oozing maple syrup down, and followed Coral as she shimmed her way over to the couch.
I picked up Coral’s sketchbook at her indication, and half-heartedly began skimming my way through it. I was just gazing in wonder at a sketch of a horse (or was it a mule) when the next page made me freeze momentarily. It was of a bonny golden retriever playing with a beach ball. I remembered the day that photograph was taken. It was the last time I could recall my family being together. It was the summer before Gary had ventured off to college. He had been aware of the fact that I’d be lost without him, so he conspired with our mother to buy me something that I’d always wanted. It was before my mother got sick, before I had to leave our house, before I had to live with Gary, before I’d been forced to give up Bob, the one object I prized above anything else.
My hands shaking tensely, I jumped at the sound of Coral’s sudden murmur. I hadn’t even realized that she had moved to sit next to me on the couch until that precise moment. “Gary stashed the photograph in my mailbox of my old house when we first started going out. He told me that he had bought that dog for you when he’d gone off to college. He did it because I wanted to find out something about the sister of my boyfriend”. When I didn’t make any attempt to converse with her, she continued her spiel. “I know that you named the dog Bob, after your mother’s favourite singer, Bob Dylan. I’m sorry if you’re offended that I drew him without your permission. I respect you, Natalie, and even though we haven’t had the most solid relationship, but I’d like to get to know you better, if I can”.
She paused, and I realized that I had never seen the usually perky, sanguine Coral look so troubled before. Her strawberry-blond locks trembled as she resumed with “Natalie? Please let me know how you feel about this. Please, speak to me. Say Anything.”
I glanced up to meet her gaze hesitantly. “I just wanted to say… thank you. That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me. I’m grateful, really Coral. The next thing I knew, I had my arms enveloped around Coral’s torso. No more words had to be exchanged between us. We had come to a mutual truce, of sorts.