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- Story Listed as: Fiction For Kids
- Theme: Stories about Friendship & Family
- Subject: Pets / Animal Friends
- Published: 03/24/2011
Peppermint KissesBorn 1971, F, from Hillsboro, OR, United States
She smelled of peppermint and lavender, and I was instantly attached. I was just a pup when Papa took me home to her, and I’ll never forget the day.
It was my first Christmas. The boy, Sam, held me at the top of the stairs. I wriggled in his hands to get free – why was he holding me so tight? Then Papa whistled from the bottom of the stairs, and the boy let loose. Finally! My little paws slipped and slid around on those wood stairs, but I kept my eyes on that big, green tree as I came around the corner. Those sparkly lights were calling my name. Oh! Oof! The last step… I tripped on the huge, red bow Papa had tied around my neck and stumbled to the floor. The floor was slippery, too, and my paws went out from under me. My tummy slammed down and my legs shot straight out like airplane wings, and round and round I went. My target! I see it again! I darted for those shiny lights but a high-pitched squeal jolted me from focus. Huh? What the –
Suddenly, I didn’t know what was happening to me. I was lifted from the floor and that squeal was right in my ear. Something was gripping my tummy like a vise and I could hardly breathe. Let me go! I twisted to get out, but couldn’t. And then came her gentle voice.
“Danny,” she said. “You’re Danny. My Danny.”
Danny? Who’s Danny? I wondered.
The things that gripped me so tightly suddenly softened, and turned me until I was face to face with…her. She smiled and laughed, and looked right into my eyes. She put her nose to my nose, and giggled, and I got a whiff of something good. My instinct was to lick it, which only made her giggle more.
I heard Papa say, “I think he likes the peppermint candy cane as much as you, Emily.”
Peppermint? Is that what that is? I couldn’t get enough, until she pulled me away. “Silly Danny,” she said. She set me in her lap, cupped my face with her hands, then wrapped her arms around my neck. “My sweet Danny.”
I forgot all about those lights.
From that first day, our friendship grew. When school started again in January, Emily and Sam would go to school, and I would wait anxiously for her return. The warm fire in the living room was hard to part company with, but when I’d hear the low rumble of the school bus in the distance, there was no holding me back. Out the door I’d go, racing through the cold, biting air to reach her. The snow was so thick, sometimes it’d go over my head; but Emily was worth all of that hard work. One time, bounding across the snow, I hit a deep spot and couldn’t get out. I panicked when every effort to paw my way out only resulted in more snow on my head.
“Danny!” came a muffled voice. Suddenly, the snow was brushed away and two arms were lifting me up. “Silly puppy! You could get hurt!”
I didn’t care. She was home. I licked her face until I was satisfied, and the best part came next. She held me close to her, with my paws on her shoulders, and my nose buried in her hair. There I smelled the wonderful lavender. She’d wrap her coat over my body and carry me all the way to the house, while she carried on with her brother. I’d just close my eyes and relish in the warmth of her arms and fuzzy coat, and the scent of her lavender hair.
When spring came, Emily would take me fishing after school at the nearby river. She scolded me a lot, but I guess that’s because I’d get so excited, I’d bark at every fish I saw in the water. She didn’t catch very many fish. Then one day after school, she grabbed her pole and tackle box and started out the door. I was right behind her, but suddenly the screen door was in my face. I jumped back, startled.
She knelt down. “I’m so sorry, Danny. I can’t take you fishing today. It’s just that – well? I just really want to catch a fish! And I never catch one when you come!” She backed away. “I’m sorry, Danny!”
She ran fast down the stairs and across the yard. I howled out after her, “Wait! I won’t bark! I won’t bark! Emily, wait!” But she didn’t look back, and my heart sunk. I sat there crying at the door, begging for her return, even when she was out of sight. I couldn’t understand why she left me. Was I that bad? Did I upset her that much? Oh Emily! Please come back!
Papa yelled at me to hush up, but I couldn’t help it. She’d never left me before like this. We spent every moment of every afternoon after school together. Emily, come back! I howled louder through the door, hoping she’d change her mind and come get me. Suddenly, I heard the thud, thud, thud of Papa’s boots. I knew I was in trouble. I’d gone too far. I cowered in fear as I heard him approaching. A deep whine emerged from my mouth as Papa came around the corner. He was reaching down for me when the screen door opened.
I yelped in surprise and turned to see…Emily!
Papa’s face turned red like I’d never seen before. “This darn dog of yours was hollering up a storm! Next time I’m gonna chain him up in the barn!”
Papa stomped off, and I crawled forward to Emily. I felt bad for making Papa mad. But I felt even sadder that Emily had left me. I looked into her eyes, wondering why.
“Oh, Danny,” she sighed. “I’m sorry. Who needs to catch a dumb ol’ fish, anyway? Come on, boy. I guess I just can’t bear to leave you behind.” She stood up and started leaving again. Wait – did I hear her right? I jumped to my feet, still unsure. She was half way across the yard when she turned to me. “Well, silly? You coming?” I bolted across the porch and she laughed as I jumped up all around her, barking a ‘Thank you! Thank you!’ like there was no tomorrow. She knelt down in front of me, and I licked her face with gratitude. She pulled back a bit and smiled.
“Hug!” she said. And in a trained response, I lifted my paws over her shoulders, rested my head on her shoulder, and breathed in her lavender hair. She wrapped her arms around me. “Good boy. My good Danny.”
She jumped to her feet and took off with her pole and tackle box, calling out, “Let’s fish, Danny!” Without missing a beat, I was right beside her, running with the wind in my face, and thinking this was exactly where I was supposed to be. I tried to behave better at the river. I tried to bark less, determined to let Emily catch a fish that spring. But I also didn’t want her to leave again without me. Not ever. And she didn’t… until the big party day came.
Many Christmases had come and gone. I had long since grown to conquer the snow drifts, and Emily stood much, much taller above me. This particular day, Emily was distant from the start. Though still morning, the summer sun was already bearing down on the house. Emily rushed around with Mama and Papa. There was lots of talking, lots of excitement, but I was not a part of it. I yelped once from across the living room when I saw Emily rushing up the stairs, but she responded, “Hush, Danny!” I whined a couple times for her to take me outside, but she’d firmly counter, “Out, Danny. Go out.” And point to the door. Well, yeah, I could go on my own, but I didn’t want to! No “hug.” No walks. Hardly even a pat on the head. I meandered over to the fireplace and laid down. Though the weather was much too hot for a fire, somehow it was still a comfortable place for me. I moaned in self-pity. Sam sat on the couch playing video games on the TV. I liked Sam. Though he didn’t play with me much, he was always nice to me. I lifted my head. Maybe Sam would understand my plight. I drifted over to him, sitting at his feet. He stopped playing.
“She’s ignoring you, too, huh?” Sam patted my head. I whined in mournful agreement. “You know what I always say, Danny? If family doesn’t come to you, go to them. If they still won’t give you the time of day, to heck with ‘em. Do what makes you happy.”
And with that, he picked up the joystick and resumed the video game. Wow, oh ye, of little comfort. What would make me happy is for Emily to spend some time with me today. I woofed a ‘Thanks, anyway.’ I knew he was trying, but I didn’t feel any better. Suddenly, I heard a scream from the other room. Emily! Sam and I stumbled over each other racing to see what the commotion was. In the kitchen, Emily stood with her hands on her head, clutching her hair in her fists, her mouth hanging open. I waited for her to sing, but I had a feeling that’s not what was happening. Her face looked…different. Then I saw what she was looking at, and then her eyes shifted to me. And suddenly, I knew I had done something really, really wrong.
I had seen the cake on the table earlier. It wasn’t the first cake Mama had made, but this one was so fancy, and it had filled the whole house with the smell of vanilla, and oh…so many other wonderful smells. I could easily go back to that delicious moment where I swallowed almost the whole thing in one magnanimous inhalation, but no – not with those dark, angry eyes looking through me like that. Emily started screaming at me. I retreated slowly, but when she took steps toward me I dashed away and out the door, almost colliding into Mama on the way out. I could hear Emily, still screaming at Mama, something about the cake, and the party, and it being ruined. I was overcome with shame. I never wanted to make Emily mad, and now I didn’t know what to do. I decided to stay outside until Emily came. But she didn’t come.
Several hours went by, and the sun was sweltering. Even the shade under the big oak tree wasn’t providing much relief. I thought of my water bowl up on the front porch, and though I was nervous to even approach the door, my thirst was relentless. I hadn’t heard any yelling for some time, so I went for it. Up on the porch, I was met with huge defeat: no water. I knew my options were either to risk the wrath of Emily, or make the scorching journey to the river. I rehearsed a whine or two, and then gave the real deal. When there was no response, I whined a little louder. Then a bark! Still no response. I couldn’t believe it. I must’ve made all of them so mad. I laid down to sulk when the screen door flew open. Emily! I jumped to my feet and barked, giving her an extra wide tail wag, but she breezed right by me. It was then I noticed the cluster of cars coming up the drive. Huh?
As the people emerged, there were so many hugs! For a moment I felt sorry for myself when I saw her hugging person after person. As she ushered the people into the house, I hoped for at least acknowledgment. She was almost in the door when she hesitated, and turned to me. I took a wary step back, but she came to me and knelt down to hug my neck. “Oh, Danny, I’m sorry boy. It’s okay. I can’t possibly blame you for eating that cake. I forgive you, and Mama made another one anyway. I’m sorry it’s so crazy today. It’s almost time for me to leave and – well, it’s crazy in every way. I love you, boy. We’ll have time together later. I promise, okay?” She rubbed my head, and I felt she was pleased with me again. I followed her into the house and decided to get some water from the emergency bowl. Yeah…the toilet. Nothing I’m proud of, but I was desperate.
As I made my way back to the fireplace, I held onto Emily’s words to me. “Forgive you… crazy day… almost time to leave…” Wait. Leave? She must have meant we were going on a trip! For the first time that day I felt excited. She hadn’t forgotten about me! I laid there, anticipating where she’d be taking me.
The afternoon passed by in a blur. There were so many people coming and going, I stayed out of the way. When Sam went upstairs, I decided to follow him. He must not have known I was behind him, though, because I tailed him to his room and he abruptly closed the door in my face. I complained, but I guess he didn’t hear me. I laid outside his door, thinking it had not been a very good day. I’d always felt like a part of the family, but that day, I’d felt invisible, and Emily was not acting like herself. Just then, glancing towards Emily’s room at the other end of the hall, something caught my eye. Curious, I went to check it out.
There were lots of them… those big rectangles with handles. I sniffed them. Definitely Emily’s. I remembered seeing them before when the family would go on a trip, but I’d never seen this many. There were also lots of brown square boxes, all taped shut. I wondered if this had to do with the trip Emily and I were taking! Once again rejuvenated, I bolted down the stairs to show Emily my excitement. There were fewer people now, and Emily noticed me. “Danny, come!” she called with a huge smile. Yes! I’d waited all day for those words! I bolted over to her, and she lavished me with hugs and back rubs. Then she kept me by her side while she carried on conversations with the people. I didn’t know what they were talking about, but I didn’t care. I was by my Emily’s side, and we were going on a trip soon.
The next morning, I wouldn’t let Emily out of my sight. Papa carried the boxes and rectangles with handles to the truck, Mama was listing off a bunch of “don’t forget’s” to Emily, and Sam sat on the porch frowning. I ran to him, giving him my best tail-wag and best motivational barks.
‘Sam! Be happy! Trip, Sam, trip!’ Sam didn’t seem to care about the trip. He just shook his head at me. I went back to Emily. Then it seemed to be the big moment we were all leaving. I didn’t know why Mama was crying, but I tailed Emily to the truck. Papa got in, and I was just about to jump in after Emily when she turned to me, and knelt down on the ground beside me. She was crying, too.
“No, Danny. You can’t come. Oh…this is the hardest moment of my life, saying goodbye to you. But I’ll be back, I promise. I’ll be back soon.” She looked so sad. Then she tilted her head and smiled. “Hug!” I jumped up and put my paws around her neck, and she wrapped her arms around mine. Ahh…that lavender. ‘Okay!’ I barked. ‘Let’s go!’ I danced around, waiting for Emily to get in the truck so I could, too.
“Oh, Danny,” she said, “I’ll miss you so much.” She got in the truck, and closed the door before I could get in. Huh? ‘Wait! I’m coming, too!’ I barked and barked, but she wouldn’t open the door for me. She just looked at me, crying, and then the worst moment of all – she turned away. She turned away, and then Papa drove away. Without me! I chased the truck down the driveway as far as I could, but Mama was screaming at me to come back. No! Emily! And then she was gone.
That was a few months ago, and she hasn’t come back. The snow is here, and there is no Emily. I wait by the fire, but no bus comes. There is no cheer in this house. Not without Emily. I have never felt this lonely. I just miss my Emily so much. Papa is worried about me, but I just don’t feel like eating. Mama even made a cake for me, but I couldn’t even look at it. How can I eat… when my best friend has left me? She promised she’d come back, but I don’t think she will. She’s never left me for this long. I whine my sad songs, and though Sam, Mama and Papa pet me all the time, it’s just not the same.
Even now, the fire isn’t bringing much comfort. I look over at the Christmas tree, and see the lights, and for a moment remember the first day I met Emily and tasted her peppermint candy cane. I remember when school started, and the low rumble of the school bus, and how I’d trip over the snow running to her. Gosh… I swear I can hear that rumbling now. I remember the excitement and cheering when she’d greet me. It’s like I can hear that, too. Oh, this is making me sad! But the worst thing of all is not hearing her voice! ‘Oh, Emily! Emily! Emily!!’
“Danny!” The voice startles me from my mournful trance and I look over to the door where it came from. “You just gonna lay there and howl or you gonna come hug me, you silly dog?”
EMILY!! I charge at her, my feet slipping and sliding on the wood floors. They shoot out from under me and once again, I’m like a helicopter spinning round and round. I get my bearings and I’m on her, knocking her to the floor, licking her like there’s no tomorrow, and smelling that sweet lavender I’ve missed so much.
“Whoa, whoa, Danny! Easy, boy!” she laughs. “I guess you missed me, huh!”
“You have NO idea,” Papa says.
Emily looks at me and smiles. “College is no fun without you, Danny. Oh, I missed you so much! But I brought you something. Sit, Danny.” I sit. She pulls out a shiny thing that’s red- and white-striped. Ooh, I can smell it! It’s peppermint! “Wait…wait…” she tortures me, dangling it in front of my nose. Do they think this is funny?
“Okay!” she finally releases it. Emily laughs as I chow down on the luscious candy cane, and then she pulls out a box of a dozen more. “Not all at once, okay, Danny?” I bark my reply, ‘Yeah, right!’
She wraps her arms around me again. “I’ll always come back to you, Danny. Always.” Ah, the promise of a true and loyal friend. Now this is the life. My Emily and her lavender hair, and this delicious, scrumptious, drool-inducing peppermint candy cane.