'Bulging Eyes'

Winston didn't want to go to school, but knew he had to. He didn't even want to go to baseball practice. His sister, Allison, was worse. She had to be pushed out the door to school in tears, but she went — even though she barely heard a word the teacher said.

Bruno, the family's black-and-white mutt, had died. He was old. So it wasn't a surprise. But the kids had known him all their lives. He was a part of them.

After a few days, their parents sat Winston and Allison down and Mr. Jones said, "Kids, we miss Bruno as much as you do."

"No, you don't," said Winston. Allison nodded in agreement.

"What?" asked their father, bewildered.

Allison piped up this time. "What were you going to say, Dad? That we should go out and get another dog?"

Dad looked down and answered, "Well, yes."

Without saying a word, Allison got up and headed upstairs toward her room.

Winston followed saying, "You just don't get it, do you? Bruno is still here. Every time I come home from school I expect to hear him barking and scratching at the door. Then I have to remind myself. Over and over again. He's gone. But he's still here, in my heart." Then he rushed up the stairs to his room and slammed the door.

"Now what?" Mom and Dad asked aloud.

The next day when Winston and Allison came home from school, there were three fancy gold fish awaiting them.

Hesitantly, Winston and Allison approached the fish bowl. "They are pretty cool," said Winston.

"I love those bulging eyes," said Allison, with a half smile on her face. "They remind me of a Chihuahua."

Their parents heard what their children had said and smiled.

The next day when Allison and Winston slammed the screen door and heard the familiar, "Don't slam the door!" in the background, they discovered a bird cage with a big white cockatoo in it.

"Oh my," said Allison wistfully, "This bird lives as long as a human. I read it on the Internet."

Winston dropped his books on the floor with a thud. "What shall we name it?"

"Bud, my name is Bud, Rosebud. Rosebud, Rosebud," said the bird.

The kids laughed. But then stopped. It didn't seem right to laugh.

Mrs. Jones came in from outside with some groceries. Allison and Winston spoke at once, "Mom, look at Rosebud."

"Yes, children, I know. Isn't she beautiful?"

They looked toward their mother who said, "Tomorrow comes the guinea pigs, then the next day hamsters, then lizards, snakes, cats, and maybe someday, you'll accept a dog."

Allison took her brother outside where they went up a tree to talk. "Make them understand, Winston."

"I'll try."

That night, at dinner, Winston raised his hand as though he were in class.

"What is it, son?" his father asked.

"We have an announcement to make," said Winston with "mashies" in his mouth. "We're not ready yet." said Winston, helping himself to more potatoes. "You don't need to keep getting us animals. You love us. You want us to be happy. And you want us to get another dog."

"That's right," said Allison. "And we love you for it. But you have to be patient. You need to give us time – to be sad for Bruno." Her voice caught and tears came into her eyes.

"Yes," Winston added, leaning forward. "You have got to chill."

"And, Dad, I know you miss Bruno, too," Allison said a little sheepishly.

And so there parents gave them the time they needed.

A few months later, a nice Chihuahua dog picked them at the pound and went home to live with the goldfish and Rosebud. His eyes matched the bulging eyes of the fish perfectly.

Special thanks to Kimberly Dwinell for her illustration. To see more of her work, visit kimdwinell.com.

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