By Jenny Kalahar
“What are you reading, Weegee?” I asked Friday afternoon as I stepped into the Terrier’s cozy writing/reading room we’d set up for her in our basement. She was relaxing on her plush brown Dubble Deluxe Doggie Duvet under her gooseneck lamp, holding a fat hardbound open with both front paws.
She hesitated a moment to think how best to describe her book. “It’s a novel about intergalactic travel. The space explorers are from a world that has run short of pets. They are boldly seeking planets that have spare dogs and cats willing to be adopted by slimy green bug-men. They’ve heard that adopting a pet can make you more human, and they expect some sort of genetic-based shift once the animals have settled into their new home pods.”
“Oh,” I said with a smile and a slight lift of my eyebrows. I glanced around at my dog’s home pod and decided it needed a bit of cleaning. I held up a rawhide bone that had been half hidden under a stack of Tails magazines. “Going to chew on this one some more, or can I toss it out?”
She looked up. “Still got a few good chews in it. Save it for later, please. Oh, and don’t unplug my computer when you dust. I’m in the middle of making you a Mother’s Day … surprise.”
Weegee has her own computer in her basement hangout. Her keyboard has keys that are each big enough to accommodate the whole surface of her paw. She’s been writing with it for over a year: poems, dog aphorisms, short stories, and the start of a novel. Over this past year, we’ve modified her keyboard so that she can add punctuation and capitalize her letters. I sort of miss the weird style of her early writing, but at least now, she says, it’s more marketable.
“Really? Oh, Weeg! That’s so thoughtful of you. Well, I’ll just hold off tidying up until after the weekend. Enjoy your book!”
She grinned and then was back reading even before I had turned to go. A Mother’s Day surprise from Weegee. What could it be?
I spent Saturday cleaning out the van, packing up winter clothes, and detangling balls of yarn that were no longer neat since the kittens had gotten into the back of our closet. The next day, Mother’s Day, I slept in an extra hour. When I did sit up in bed, there stood my husband, Patrick, holding Weegee. She had a pink greeting card in her mouth and a happy, expectant look in her eyes.
“Is this my surprise?” I asked, sitting up straighter.
She opened her mouth, and the card dropped onto the end of the bed.
“I helped her get it into the envelope,” said Patrick.
Weegee nodded and added, “And he put the ‘Mom’ on the front, too.”
As I leaned forward to get the card, Pat put Weegee on the bed so that she could better watch me as I opened my present. Inside the blank card was this poem:
This card’s for you
You’re kind and fair
So sweet to me
And always share
Your lap, your smile
Your time and heart
I’m glad we’ll never
You scratch my ears
And kiss my head
Walk with me
When leaves are red
Or green or wet
Or gone in winter
You buy me ink
For my new printer
You give me food
And love and time
And a bunch of other
Stuff that rhymes
“It’s wonderful! Thank you, puppy. I’ll put it up on the fridge, and I’ll read it again and again.” I then gave her a kiss on the top of her head, right on the little black spot between her ears.
“See? Just like in my poem!” she said, kissing me on my cheek in return.
A couple of our cats jumped up beside me, each sniffing the card to see why it was getting so much attention. I hugged them both and then stood up to start my day, a glow of happiness rushing through my veins.
After breakfast, I did put the card on the side of our refrigerator, right next to a group of plastic magnetic letters that spell out, “Home is where the cats are,” that I’d hung a year before Weegee came along. There were photos of cats long gone over the Bridge and some who were still with us. There was a landscape painting a young friend had given me that still makes me smile. An anniversary poem I wrote for Pat five years ago that he won’t let me take down was moved over to make room for my new card. The crowded side of the fridge must have looked like it was missing something before, because now it looks just exactly full enough.
Jenny Kalahar, her husband Patrick, and their pets live in Indiana where she sells used and rare books and writes novels and poetry. She is the author of a fantasy novel about teens stuck with the worst-ever magical power, This Peculiar Magic. Her two novels about fostering cats are Shelve Under C: A Tale of Used Books and Cats, and The Find of a Lifetime. Her collection of nostalgic and humorous poetry is One Mile North of Normal and Other Poems. For more, visit her blog, Bookselling and Writing with Weegee.
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