I knew she didn’t understand; this kind of thing always confused her. She’d lick my face clean and be happy enough for both of us. She’d always been there with that same stubborn simplicity. That’s the way it was now, just like the hard times.

I buried my face in her neck. The familiar nutmeg smell, pounding heartbeat, big black eyes; today they mocked me.

I remember the way she’d lay her head in my lap and just stare up at me, how we’d wrestle over her rope, how she always thought company came just to see her. When she got real excited, her tail would get moving so fast it took half her body along with it. That still makes me smile, even on the bad days.

She laid down and let me stroke her behind the ear the way she liked. I’d expected her to struggle, but she was calm.

I think she understood then.

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