Rebecca strolled off in her pink sweatshirt, ponytail swinging. She is very much looking forward to high school, I think largely because it means she does not have to go back to middle school, which she found tedious. (And stupid, and annoying, whatever...)
Her departure from our scheduled walk, however, was not part of the puppy's plan. Scoutie planted herself on the sidewalk in protest. She sat.
Refused to move. "Becky left us?" she said.
"She has to go to orientation," I said. "All her friends will be there. It's like a meeting for the new high school kids."
"I am waiting for Becky," Scout said.
I said, "It's not a waiting thing. She'll walk home at lunch time."
"I'm waiting," she said, butt firmly planted on the sidewalk.
"It's three hours!" I said.
Scoutie stared at me with her big, round, black eyes and said, "I don't mind. I love Becky."
Exasperated, I explained, "It's just orientation, Scoutie. She's got a whole week home with us before school actually starts."
It was around then I realized that since I was standing on the high school sidewalk, many of people in the cars going past were Becky's classmates and their parents--heading for orientation too, and waving to me.
"Hi, Mrs. Wixted!"
But I had the stubborn dog's leash in one hand, so my only option was to wave a bag of dog poop at them.
"I totally get your drift, Scoutie. I don't like Becky leaving us either," I said, "But I'm starting to look kind of weird."
The whole thing reminded me of Becky's first day of kindergarten. Bridget, Rebecca's sister, and I sat on the driveway, waiting for the school bus--as I remember it, for a very long time--and then suddenly the bus came and whoop! Becky left us. Just like that--ponytail swinging. She got on the bus and it took her away. She is the oldest; Rebecca is the one who leaves first.
Today the dog was much more loyal to Becky than Bridget had been--Scoutie was in pure agony that Rebecca did not turn around and come back to continue our walk. But on that day nine years ago, as soon as the yellow bus rumbled away and I waved until it was out of sight, I looked down at Bridget. Instantly she said, "Can we talk about something else besides Becky now?"
"Like what?" I said.
She grinned. "Like me."
This morning I did not have my charming Bridget to distract me, because now she is thirteen, so naturally at nine am she was sound asleep. So I did the only thing I could do. I picked up my puppy, trying very hard not to let the leash slice open the poop bag, and trudged home.