A short story by E.L. Hayes
Abigail opened the white box and took a bite of the Kung-Pu chicken opened her mouth and wagged her tongue and sniffed. “Sadie, this is hot stuff. Daddy’s going to love it!”
The dog turned and watched for scraps as Abigail scooped out the food onto a plate then put them in the warmed oven. “Don’t worry, Daddy will be home soon. I’m sure he will sneak you a bite.” Sadie’s ears perked.
She set the table with long red candles and lowered the lights. She uncorked the wine to let it breathe and then opened her purse and fished out lipstick and mascara. “I want to look nice when he gets here.” Sadie slowly moved to the couch and Abigail gave her a boost up. The dog curled up in her spot and closed her eyes. Abigail turned on the television and Animal Plant was on. “Dad, takes good care of you huh?” rubbing Sadie’s weak leg.
Her cell phone rang starting Sadie and Abigail awake.
“Yes.” She looked at her watch. “Who is this?”
“Abigail, this is chief Wilde”
“Oh, yes, what can I do for you?” He paused too long, she reached for Sadie, “What’s wrong?”
“I need you to come down to the hospital, Dean,” he swallowed then let out a long breath, “Dean, is here. There was an accident, I need you to come.”
She felt the adrenaline hit her system pushing her upright. Sadie whined struggling off the couch. “What happened?”
“Abigail, please just come. He is in surgery now.”
The flashing lights at the emergency entrance bathed the wall in red and white, Abigail trotted into the building, hurrying toward the reception desk she saw five men in official uniform some had their heads hung low others shaking their heads. She felt the air suck out of the room. She tried to breathe slowly but the oxygen was heavy and wouldn’t move through her system. She recognized Chief Wilde, his eye red-rimmed, his movement appeared to her in slow-motion. The edges of her sight pixeled with black she felt a throbbing in her head, “What happened, where is Dean?”
The burly man drew her into his arms and whispered the words she feared. “He didn’t make it Abby, he’s gone.”
She shook her head, “No, this isn’t possible, he is on his way home.”
“Abby, he was hit by a truck on Route 20 out aways from Anderson’s place.”
The memory of the first night she met him zoomed over her leaving her dazed. “That’s where we, he and…” the sob overtook her, the disbelief melting into reality. “This isn’t happening, Frank,” her eyes pleading.
“Abby, when I called you he was in surgery, but he…” the big man choked, “The doctor just came out.”
She felt herself melt into the big man’s embrace, all she could say was ‘no’ as she allowed sorrow to overtake her.
“Abby, I don’t know how to tell you this, but there was more.” He withdrew a small black box, “He told me before he went out that he was, well he told me this is for you.”
She opened the box the sparkling ruby ring a perfect setting. She took it out of the box and looked to see an engraving, You saved my girl and me. I’ll always love you.
“He was going to give this to you Abby. He said it was a promise ring. I am so sorry.” The big man was pale, he reached out and put his hand over hers. She felt nothing, her body numb with shock.
“We fought today, he told me he loved me. He said he would see me at home. He said…” She stood. “I need to go. I can’t be here.”
The chief waved to a tall officer with graying hair at the temples, he had gentle eyes, “Abby, this is deputy Schultz, he is going to drive you home. I don’t want you driving tonight.”
“I need to go get Sadie. Sadie, I need Sadie.”
“We can bring her to you, you shouldn’t go alone.”
“I want to go to Dean’s. I need Sadie. She needs me. Please just take me to Dean’s”
The chief nodded at the officer. “Okay, Abigail.”
She nodded and followed Officer Schultz silently to his squad car.
Abigail opened the door, Sadie’s rear end wiggling in greeting, fell to the floor and held Sadie close. “Oh, sweet girl.” She whispered. “Daddy’s not coming home.” The sob caught in her throat “Daddy’s not coming home.” as she stroked the dog’s back. Sadie nuzzled into Abigail’s chest as Abigail cried.
The clouds sat low in the sky, the grey drizzle was relentless, a fog clung to the branches of the tall trees leaving a thickness to the air. Abigail straightened her black dress, then smoothed the black vest she had put on Sadie.
Her brother came and enveloped her in a deep embrace. “He was my friend, he loved you, Abby. You have Sadie and that is something.”
A thin smile forced itself over her face as her eyes sank low. “He was a good man. I loved him.” Mike hugged her again.
She sat in the widow’s chair, she turned the ring on her finger, Sadie put her head on her lap. “He saved me and he saved you. I’ll love him forever.”
Sadie’s eyes locked on hers as she let out a small whimper. Abigail smiled and leaned over and kissed the dog’s head. “Now we have each other.”
The service ended, Abigail helped Sadie into her old truck they drove out Route 20 placing a wooden cross on the side of the road that read, “Dean Walker a man who’s tomorrow came too soon. We miss you.”