LOYALTY

An excerpt from a project I’m currently working on…

My California Raisins beach towel covered my head like the veil of the Virgin Mary. Sam panted next to me. Everywhere I looked it was too bright. High noon in the middle of an oppressive summer. If I was uncomfortably hot and dehydrated, what more Sam? He was an English hunting dog. Definitely not built for the tropics.

I looked down the road and took a deep breath.

“Come on, Sam. We gotta keep going.”

I honestly didn’t know how long a kilometre was. All I knew was that was the distance from the beach to my house and that there was a long dusty tan coloured road in between. It seemed so near by car. It was also so easily walkable with my siblings and yayas* around. But today, at noon, with no one else on the road, a small part of me was realising just how far it was for a five-year-old.

My feet were sandy and dusty from the beach and the road. I watched as I put one in front of the other, my little toes pressing against my flip flops.

“When we get home, we’ll turn on the hose in the garden,” I told Sam. “We’ll cool off!”

He stayed quiet. His black and white fur was clumped in some places from sea water and his paws were sandy.

I hadn’t wanted Sam to come with me. I tried telling him to stay at the beach with my brothers and yayas, but he saw me slip away and he followed. Now, with nothing but desert road, empty lots with dried out shrubs, and the noonday sun beating down, I was happy he was here.

“And when we get home, you can have ice water and I can have ice cream. It will be my reward. For proving I can walk home by myself. With nobody.”

Sam licked my hand. His tongue was scratchy and hot. I gave him a pat on the head.

“Thanks for coming with me. We’ll be there soon… I think.”

I took another deep breath. “You’re a good dog. A really good dog.”

An uncountable number of steps later, Sam and I arrived at the house.

“Oh! You guys are back!” my mother said.

“No. Just me and Sam.”

“What?!”

“I walked here by myself. Yaya Rose and everyone else are still at the beach.”

My mother’s eyes narrowed. “They let you go by yourself?”

“No. I just left. I didn’t tell them,” I said.

I was in trouble. I could tell from her breathing that she was about to yell.

“THEY ARE PROBABLY WORRIED SICK ABOUT YOU! THEY’RE PROBABLY TRYING TO FIND YOU RIGHT NOW! OH MY GOD… GO TO THE CORNER!!”

“For how long?” I asked, too shocked to feel bad yet.

“UNTIL I SAY SO!”

I walked quietly to the corner and sat down. Sam followed, sitting next to me, in solidarity with my punishment. I leaned against his hot fur and started to cry. He licked my hand.

“You’re a good dog, Sam. A really good dog.”

*yaya – Nanny (in Filipino)

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