Singapore Adventure

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

No Little Magpie
by venitha

"No little Magpie," I say to Jim as we round the final corner toward home.

"No little Magpie," he confirms.

Our house is not the same without her. No Oh, yay! It's you! waggle greets me at the door, no luminous brown eyes stare up at me while I make lunch, no one anxiously dodges past me out the garage door in wild enthusiasm for any and every errand.

Still, in her absence, there is a presence. A shadow catches my eye as I walk by the back door. Do you want in, little girl? A ghost trails after me, "helping" me weed the backyard. You're going to make yourself sick, Mags. A phantom tail thumps in companionship as I tiptoe to the bathroom by the light of the moon. I see you, sweets.

Stuffed with our traditional welcome home meal of Pulcinella's double-crust spinach pizza, the three human inhabitants of our house go for a walk in the balmy summer evening, following Maggie's well-worn path to the mailbox. I delight in a package from Amazon, Marilyn marvels at a beautiful postcard from Australia, and Jim stuffs his large pockets full of junk mail for all three of us. Maggie never received anything but threatening postcards from her nemesis, the vet, so she understandably eschewed the mailbox, straining past it to the extent of her long leash. C'mon! C'mon! The short walk is for poodles. Onward!

We follow Maggie's steps around the block past the infamous Barky Dog Corner, where B.D. himself accosts us, yelling the same old obscenities with the same old vociferous abandon from the same old edge of his invisible fence. God help me, but why are this cur's vicious barks allowed to contaminate the languid evening while Maggie's lovely lilting broo-roo-oo will never be heard again? I want to kick the bright yellow fire hydrant, buried under layers of never-to-be-received p-mail.

As we near the corner and home, our pace slows along with Maggie's, and she warms our hearts with smiles and laughter, conjuring memories of The Wheelchair Incident. Eighteen months ago, Jim off in exotic Singapore, the ladies of the house formed a train in this exact spot. Marilyn, , pushed me in my wheelchair, while Maggie, our dawdling caboose, careened chaotically off the track at the end of her very long leash.

"C'mon, Maggie!" I gave her an impatient jerk. "Get a move on!"

Maggie ignored me completely, busily sniffing a bush taller than she.

"Move it, Maggie!"

Marilyn, indulgently waiting, giggled, and a moment later her amusement penetrated my Percocet-addled brain.

"Let's go!"

What a shocking sight we must have been to my neighbors! That evil woman! Berating that little old lady who's kind enough to take her for a walk! Maggie, delving deep into her bush 20 feet behind us, was, of course, nowhere to be seen.

But I could feel her then as I tugged on that leash. And I can feel her now as she tugs on my heart. I miss you, little girl.