The Neighbor’s Dog
Mom took me over to play at my neighbors. They had a white German Shepherd. I had seen it play with them, seen them pet him. I loved his happy tail. So, when I got to go over to visit, I wanted to pet the dog. The neighbor girl was getting frustrated. I was ignoring her, and talking to her parents in the kitchen, and to the dog. I knelt and patted the dog on the head. She bared her teeth. The neighbor mom told me, “She doesn’t like that. You need to leave her alone.” I was sure that I could win the dog over, ignoring the complaints of the neighbor girl—and leaned in to kiss the doggie on the nose.
The doggie bit my face.
The neighbor girl blanched. The neighbor mom’s face read, “what have we done?”, and blood on the floor, the blood was mine. I was swooped up as the neighbor dad got my mom. The dog was sorry. She’d never bitten before. They tried to warn me. We were going to go visit dad at the clinic. I don’t remember pain.
The doctor showed me a cabinet full of silk thread—bright blue and purple. I imagined the pretty stitches they’d make. He told me that there would be a bright light, but the cone was supposed to protect my eyes. He lied. I could hear the frustration in his voice, “keep your eyes open. Stay still.” But the light hurt my eyes. I’d never seen anything so bright. And the tug of the needle passing through my lip didn’t help.
All done. We headed back home. Not so bad, not so bad.
I headed into my room, and sat on a stool in front of my little keyhole shaped mirror. Carefully, I peeled off the bandage. Underneath, were ugly, heavy black stitches. Ugh. Why did he show me the pretty colors and then use black? Clearly, I needed to let him know I wanted the blue and purple. He would just do it over again. So I started to pluck at the stitches, taking them out.
Mom caught me, and stopped me. I did have to go back, but they looked at me like I was speaking another language when I told them what I wanted, and I just got black again.
I felt like when I spoke, no one understood what I was saying. And, as always, I was baffled by their reactions.