My grandmother was wearing her fashionable red lipstick; she arrived at my house at around ten one Saturday morning.
Every month she took my ten year old brother Taylor and me to Toys R Us. We’d spend more than an hour walking down the enormous aisles looking at Barbie’s, Pokemon cards, jump ropes, and puzzles until we made our final decision of our monthly selection.
The aisles always seemed so big, almost like skyscrapers filled with my favorite characters. I loved going to the toy store because of the bouncy, peppy music and the bright colors. This specific trip to the store was special because it was my birthday and I was turning six. Usually my grandmother only let us pick one item, but because it was my birthday that month I got to pick two treasures.
After spending a little more than an hour in the store, I finally decided on two Polly Pocket toys to add to my collection at home. Even though I would spend more than an hour looking around, I always picked Polly Pockets. My brother picked a Pokemon video game that he could play on the purple Gameboy he had permanently attached to his hand. Satisfied with our purchases, we hopped back into my grandmother’s red Chevy and headed back to my house.
As I sat in the backseat listening to the inevitable country music and watching my gram’s brown hair blow in the breeze, I felt that today couldn’t get any better.
I was so eager to get home, eat red velvet cake and confetti cake ice cream with my family, and play with my new toys. As soon as we pulled into the gravel driveway I quickly got out and ran up the concrete steps. Before I could get in the door my grandmother said, “Don’t go in yet Rachael; wait for us.”
I didn’t understand why I had to wait, but I stood on the front porch impatiently. My brother and grandmother were like dogs that stopped to sniff everything on a walk. As they plodded up the steps, I opened the old yellow front door. Walking into my living room, I saw a small stuffed dog wearing a red handkerchief. At first, I didn’t recognize the stuffed animal, so I just assumed it was my brother’s, but when the stuffed animal started to move, I then realized what it was. I squealed with excitement and ran over to the black and white speckled animal. Looking pleased, my parents said, “Happy birthday,” in unison.
Sitting on the hardwood floor, I stroked my new companion’s thick coat and let her dull teeth bite my hand. She almost was as small as my dad’s shoe; she looked so fragile. After rambling off a list of names like Brittney, Cocoa, and Spot, my brother and I finally decided on Freckles.
Throughout the years, Freckles and I have taken numerous long walks to the pond down the road. She jumps up and down at the first sight of her green leash.
As soon as we arrive at our destination, she chases every bird she sees. In the winter when the fireplace is ablaze and the big snowflakes are falling, I’ll come downstairs to see Freckles and Tom, my cat, cuddled up by the fireplace.
A few years after we got Freckles, we realized she had a medical problem. One time, my mom was taking a photograph of my brother and me by the fireplace. It was a dark winter night, so she needed to use the flash. When my mother finally captured a picture that she thought was suitable, we noticed Freckles in the corner of the room shaking uncontrollably and not able to walk.
The veterinarian later told us that the bright light of the flash caused her to have seizures. Since then we haven’t used the flash setting in the house.
One evening this year, after basketball practice, I came home to my mom searching the yard for Freckles. Unable to find her, my mom and I drove up and down the streets yelling out her name. Defeated, we decided to go home. My mom said, “Don’t worry Rach, she’ll show up.” As I pulled back into the driveway, we saw her crossing the street. It was a hazy winter day and it was hard to see. As I put my car into park, I saw a large brown Ford truck barreling down the road. I screamed because the truck wasn’t slowing down. At the last possible second the driver slammed on the brakes; you could smell the burnt rubber from the tires. Shaking, I ran to Freckles, scooped her up in my arms, and carried her inside as the careless driver sped away.
More than half of my life has been spent with Freckles. She isn’t as rambunctious as she once was; she has trouble getting up and down the stairs and she’s nearly deaf. Although she’s getting older, she still waits for me by the door when I’m gone and makes the difficult journey up the steps just to sleep with me.
Looking back on it now, I am so grateful that I have been blessed with such a great companion. Although some may say she is just a dog, she has been a part of many memorable experiences for me.