Chapter 11 "A New Problem"
“Boys, you’re all wet,” said Mom. “Dundee, I should still be mad at you, but I can’t stay mad at your forever. After all, you are my favorite doggie.” She began to wipe off his paws with a paper towel. “And as for you, Tyler, quick get out of that wet shirt and put on something dry.”
When Dundee returned in a cozy sweater, Mom said, “I’ve got some chocolate chip cookies for you.”
He could barely eat the cookie, although it was tasty. Dundee slipped one to Tyler who just let it fall to the floor. Mom noticed their sad faces.
“You both look like you have something heavy on your hearts.” She leaned over the pooch. “Dundee, I forgive you for being such a wild thing today. You know I love you.” Tyler looked up with sad doggie eyes, his ears bent low. Then Mom took Dundee by the hand and led him to the couch in the den. Tyler sat at her feet. She puffed one of the pillows and pulled Dundee onto the couch near her. She put her arm around his shoulder and snuggled closer. “What’s wrong, Son? Did you have a rough day at school?” She gently brushed the hair off his face and waited a moment. “You look so sad.”
Dundee turned to her shoulder and began to sob. Tyler put his head in her lap and joined in mournfully. Mom just sat there confused.
Dundee wiped his nose with his shirt sleeve. “Mom, did you ever wish for something that came true and then realized it wasn’t what you wanted after all?” Mom thought for a minute and then replied, “Yes, I remember how much I wanted a piano when I was a little girl. Then when Grandma and Gramps bought me one and made me practice every day, I wished I had asked for a baseball glove instead.
Dundee grinned and Tyler raised his head to listen. “Another time I wished for a baby sister. Grandma and Gramps brought home a baby brother instead. I was so angry. Seemed all they did was fuss over him. People came over and said how cute he was. Boy, was I jealous, thinking they loved him more than they loved me.”
“Really?” asked Dundee. “Yes, really. But I figured they loved us both the same. Just that some days they loved one of us more than the other. It all evens out.” Dundee laughed. “You know,” she continued. “It took me years to understand that. Eventually, Uncle Hank taught me how to catch a baseball. And I can still play Christmas carols on the piano.” She smiled. “Things do work out, most of the time.”
Tyler and Dundee looked at each other thinking Oh, great. Does this mean we have to get used to this?” “Oh no,” whispered Dundee to Tyler. “I don’t want to be a boy forever.” Tyler started a low growl, shaking his head side to side. Great, just great. I’m not the doggie type either. Instinctively, Mom felt her son’s head, thinking he surely must be ill. There was no fever. Only a miserable little boy and an equally unhappy dog.
Neither creature felt like eating that night. Both went up to bed early. Mom made some tea and read a story to her darlings in bed, Dundee looking onto the pages as Tyler huddled in a ball nearby. The wind picked up and blew the curtains at the window. It had stopped raining but they could see lightening in the distance. The sky had a tinge of green. There was a funny smell, like chlorine bleach that Mom used to clean the bathroom.
“Mom, this is weird,” said Dundee. “I’m scared.” “No need, son. The funny smell is ozone. It happens sometimes before a lightning storm. But in the morning, everything will smell fresh. I promise.”
Dundee settled down, and they finished the story. Mom went over to close the window, but left it cracked, just a little. “Tomorrow we’re going to move your bed to the other side of the room. I don’t like it so close to the window.”
“I was reading that scientists are researching some phenomenon that happens when a person makes a wish around ozone.”
“You mean it makes wishes come true?”
“Not sure. But it’s probably best not to get too close to that funny smell. Just in case,” she replied. “You know what Grandma always says, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’”
Tyler and Dundee looked at each other again thinking, Hmmmmm….
She tucked Dundee under the covers and patted Tyler’s head. Then she kissed both her “boys”, Dundee on his forehead and Tyler on his snout. Turning out the lights, she tiptoed out of the room.
After Mom’s footsteps faded in the hallway, Dundee and Tyler went to the window. The sky was a pale green and the aroma was greater than before. They sat on the floor facing each other and inhaled a deep breath, making a wish. Then Dundee closed the window just as the raindrops started splashing against the glass.
The two friends climbed back into bed and held each other close. Both were of the same mind. “I just don’t think I can go to school tomorrow and pretend to be you,” said Dundee. “It’s too hard.”
Tyler whined, What if I have to spend the rest of my life on all fours looking up people’s noses and sniffing dog butts?” Dundee laughed. “It’s really not so bad. But, we’ll figure it out tomorrow, Buddy,” said Dundee. “After all, we’re both pretty smart, right?” Dundee rolled on his side and slipped his arm over his friend’s warm body.
Tyler nodded his head before settling in. But he wasn’t so sure anymore. The pitter patter of the rain sounded peaceful and he drifted off to sweeter dreams.