It’s too hot to play outside, thought Anna as she sat on the ground in the backyard of her house. Her Grandmother was busy hanging just washed clothes to dry on the line that went all the way from the house to a tree about 30 feet away. 8 year old Anna bent down to watch an army of Ants scurry out of a ant hole the size of a golf ball. After losing herself in the order and civility of the march of the ants, Anna sprang up and started walking to the edge of the yard.
“Nana, I’m going over to play with Sammy OK?” It was a question and a statement at the same time.
“Be Careful, If no one is there come right back, Yuh hear?” Also said as a question and a statement.
It occurred to Anna that Nana did not say, “tell Mrs. Johnson I said howdy,” no “call to Mrs. Johnson for me and tell her I’ll talk to her soon”. No, hello messages. At least Nana let her go and didn’t try to stop her, Anna thought. No one in the neighborhood liked Mrs. Johnson. Anna didn’t know why, but she also didn’t concern herself with those small details either.
“Yes Nana” Anna said as she made her way through the overgrown dirt path that led to her neighbors house. The path wasn’t used much so Anna had to carefully trudge through the overgrown grass and trees that blocked her way.
Her matching yellow tank top and short shorts kept snagging on the branches and trees as she made her way. Anna emerged from the path like she was walking through it for an hour panting even though it only took a few minutes.
The small white house with the brown wooden door stared at her quietly. No cars passed in front of the white concrete fence. No one sat outside on the porch. The quiet was deafening. Anna paused before she started to walk to the door. She was struck by the stillness of everything. There was more dirt than grass in front of the house. The dry clay dirt lazily swirled around her in the light wind as she walked.
Anna stopped and looked around her for tumbleweeds as she felt it would be fitting in this scenery. When none appeared, she continued to the door and knocked.
She knocked again, louder this time. Nothing.
“Sammy” Anna called loudly. Nothing.
Not to be deterred, Anna continued around to the side of the house where she knew there was another door. For a second she felt she should go home and try again later or another day. But that wasn’t Anna. She wasn’t a giver-upper. She was going to get want she wanted and what she wanted was to play with Sammy. She knew they were home, she could feel it. Whether they were home but didn’t want to speak with Anna or they were busy did not occur to Anna..
A spur of the moment thought that grew out of boredom, grew into a quest to succeed in a matter of 8 minutes. Somebody was going to answer the door. It was the principle of the matter. When you don’t succeed, you try and try again until you get it. If she had just left and gone back home, it would have been like she’d failed. She would have to walk back to her Nana as a failure, And Anna was no failure.
Plus, She knew they were there. Every fiber in her body told her so. But, why weren’t they answering the door?
She reached the side of the house and froze.
She looked from the big brown dog laid out on its stomach in the afternoon sun to the side door of Sammy’s house and drew in a surprised breath.
There dog! Anna screamed to herself. She had forgotten they had a dog. Plus when she entered the yard and knocked on the door most dogs would come running and barking alerting their owner someone was there, but this dog did not bark. The dog didn’t bark then, and the dog wasn’t barking now.
The dogs dark brown eyes stared at Anna. It didn’t move or make a sound. Neither did Anna.
Anna looked towards the door again and decided she was going for it. She was here, the dog didn’t look dangerous. In fact the dog had no expression on its face what so ever. No bared teeth or menacing look, nothing.
Anna took a step towards the house. The Dog Watched.
Anna took a second step towards the house. The dog Watched.
Anna took a third step towards the house. The dog sprang.
Before Anna could blink, the big brown dog was on her. He jumped on Anna and she felt her head hit the dirt before seeing the big brown dog standing over her.
The big brown dog stared at Anna knowingly and calmly. There was no viciousness in his eyes. No terror or anger, just calm quietness.
Anna didn’t know the exact moment the big brown dog sank his fangs into the fleshy part under her right collar bone, but she did see the big brown dog walk away and go back to sit in the shade from whence he came. She felt nothing. She thought nothing. She did not scream, fight or cry. Her mind went blank. Anna just laid on the clay dirt looking up at the cloudless blue sky paralyzed with emptiness.
As the big brown dog walked away, The side door of the small white house flew open and out ran Sammy and her mother Evelyn.
“Oh my God” yelled Evelyn. “Anna, Anna, can you hear me? Are you alright?.”
Evelyn ran over to Anna followed by Sammy and cupped her hand around Anna’s neck and slowly lifted her to a sitting position.
“Anna, Anna are you okay?” Yelled Evelyn.
The sound was distant to Anna. Like someone was calling her from far way. She looked at Evelyn and saw her friends empty face behind her mother. The atmosphere was surreal. Nothing seemed real to Anna. Quietly she glanced down to her yellow tank top and saw that it was stained with blood. She followed the trail of the blood and shrieked when she saw that it came from her. Blood poured from the fleshy part under Anna’s collar bone.
She jumped up without seeing Evelyn’s or Sammy’s face and took off running across the yard back to the path that took her home. Blood soaked her now yellow and red tank top and started to spill onto her short yellow shorts.
She never looked back. What was behind her didn’t matter. Anna didn’t hear Evelyn’s voice calling her name as she ran nor did she see the worried look on Sammy’s face as she brushed branches and leaves out of her way.
Anna ran hard feeling no pain. There were no tears or screams, just wind and momentum propelling her ponytail to swing as she ran. She used pure adrenaline to reach her yard. She saw her Grandmother as she finished hanging up the clothes and turned slightly so she would run right into her.
Her Nana sensing something looked up and froze. She saw her Granddaughter running towards her with blood oosing from around her right shoulder. The cute yellow shorts and tank set she put her in a few hours before was wet with blood. A look of horror stiffened on her face as she cried “Anna, Anna what happened?”
But Anna didn’t speak she ran until she fell into her Grandmothers arms. When she saw the look on her Nana’s face, everything came back to her in that instance and she cried out. A loud ear piercing cry filled with shock, pain and betrayal. Tears flowed from Anna’s eyes as she told her Nana what happened between sobs.
“It’s okay baby, it’s okay, we are going to fix you up.” Nana crooned.
Anna’s cry became a dry whining hiccup of a sound as her tears dried up, and her hysteria subsided.
“I won”she whispered to her Nana, “They were home.”
Then, everything went black.