April 17th, 2017


LJI:15 Patchwork heart

The Pierce children desperately wanted a pet.  Not just a pet, a dog.  Mom and Dad had tried several other options: goldfish that died, a hamster that ran under the couch and never reappeared, and a canary who sang too shrilly and had to go back to the store.  Finally the parents came to me, as the tutor and nanny, and asked me to help the children pick out a dog from the local shelter. Their only specifications were that the dog should be medium sized and something the children could take care of themselves.

Of course the children had a lot more ideas.

“He has to want to run around in the back yard with me and chase sticks” said Tony.

“SHE has to cuddle on the couch with me” said Grace, sticking her tongue out at her older brother.

“Mark, what do you want a dog to do?” I asked.

The youngest Pierce looked at me with big brown eyes.  Everyone told me he could talk, but in the three months since I arrived I hadn’t ever seen his mouth without his thumb inserted so I couldn’t prove it.

By the time Tony and Grace finished the list of things this one dog should be, it was immense: fluffy, but not shed; friendly with people, but protect the family; give dog kisses, but not too slobbery; jump excitedly in greeting, but not on people.  Grace admitted she wanted to play with the dog, and Tony whispered to me that he hoped the dog would sleep in his bed.

With this list in hand, I took the children to the shelter.  We spent a fabulous morning petting and playing with all the dogs they had.  We narrowed it down to two: one was friendly and energetic, but it was a small yippy dog that jumped on everything.  The other was fluffy and gave non-slobbery kisses, but was too calm and didn’t seem to like any of the children much.  Neither Tony nor Grace was certain which dog they wanted, and Mark did nothing to break the tie.  We went home without a new dog that morning.

But I knew I could fix this.  Since moving to the city, I hadn’t had a chance to use my family’s talents.  Finally all the equipment I had secretly moved into my room would be useful.

A week later I asked the children to bring me something special to them, something that represented what a dog would be in their lives.

Tony brought a shooting marble.  “It’s my best one; I hardly ever miss with it.  It’s because I want a dog to be playful and fun and good, but live in my room at night.”

Grace brought a piece of fabric.  “It’s from Mom’s dress…”

“You cut up Mom’s favorite dress?”

“It’s not Mom’s favorite dress; it’s my favorite dress of Mom’s.  It has a scalloped hem now, I stitched it all even, and this is what I cut off.”

“You’re going to get in trou-ble” Tony sing-songed.

“Won’t.  I want a dog to be friendly and cuddly and bright and soft, and I kept thinking of Mom.”

I smiled.  “That’s a lovely idea, and both the fabric and marble were very thoughtful.  Mark, did you bring something?”

Mark pulled a small jar out of his pocket and put it on the table.  Floating in it was a thumb.  I checked quickly to make sure Mark still had both of his, one in his mouth and the other attached to the hand on the table.

“Mark, you know you’re not supposed to go into my room when I’m not there, and certainly not take things.  Why did you bring a thumb?”

Mark looked at me and stopped sucking his thumb.  He sat up straight and said, “Igor”.  Then he deliberately put his thumb back in his mouth, watching me closely the whole time.

“So you do know my name.  Would you care to explain the thumb?”

Mark sucked his own thumb, loudly.

“Or not.  Thank you children; with these gifts from you I will be able to finish the Pierce family dog.”

“Can we see it?”  “Can we watch?”  Tony and Grace’s voices tumbled over each other.

“When you’re older I will teach you more of my special arts, but now you are too young.  Run along and let me do my work, your new dog will ‘come home’ tomorrow.”
The children left and I went into my workroom.  I removed a small piece from the center of Tony’s marble, so it would still roll, and took several threads from Grace’s piece of fabric.  I clipped part of the nail from my Uncle Igor’s thumb, and returned the jar back to the cabinet.  I added all three of the items from the children inside the animal, in a small pouch of my own design that wouldn’t interfere with any necessary organics, and began the finishing stitching.  That night a thunderstorm rolled in as predicted.

The next day I introduced the children to their new dog.  His eyes were different colors and his tail seemed small for a medium-sized dog, but he was fluffy and friendly, played games and cuddled, and was all the best parts of a dog (or two).  His name is Scraps.

*** Yet another week of LJ Idol, you can go and read all the other takes on Patchwork Heart here.***