Lisa Morningstar and…

     “I’ve been trying to train her,” he told her. “But I think Sharon makes her nervous.”
     Lisa watched while Phoebe dug up a cluster of purple asters she had just planted in the ground next to the porch. She had remembered reading somewhere that dogs pick up on their owner’s moods. Could Phoebe be heading straight for canine therapy?


     SIX WEEKS HAD PASSED SINCE that conversation, and Phoebe’s immediate neighbors had been privy to all sorts of doggie indiscretions since then.

These asters come with a bonus Monarch Butterfly. Hooray!!


     “Phoebe! Get off the bed! Phoebe, don’t chew my Hazumi statue! Bad dog! You ate my pencil! Feeebeee! Did you leave this pile??!!
     An unfriendly steel ramp protruded from the open back end of the moving van. Lisa watched the movers struggle with the carved, naked man and smiled as Sharon herded them up the ramp and into the back of the truck, holding a very large blanket stretched wide as if she intended to smother them both.
     “It’s awful, isn’t it?”
     Lisa jumped and turned toward the voice. An anxious-looking woman peered over a fence next to Lisa’s garage. Fran Kendall was in her sixties, a widow since she was 45 and afraid of everything. More than once Glen had been summoned to check for noises in her basement or to fix a running toilet. He had always complained, but Lisa insisted he go. He always came back grumpy, but she didn’t care. She couldn’t imagine what it must feel like to be so alone and scared all the time.
     “I hope a bunch of hoodlums don’t move in,” her neighbor added anxiously.
     Lisa smiled when she saw that Fran was holding the spray nozzle of her hose like a weapon.

Lisa smiled when she saw that Fran was holding the spray nozzle of her hose like a weapon.


     “Not likely,” Lisa assured her neighbor. “This neighborhood now only seems to attract young couples with infants or empty nesters.”
     “We’ll see,” Fran answered, lowering the spray nozzle and slowly moving away from the fence.
     Lisa unlocked the door, picked up her belongings and stepped inside, glad for the sound of the door slamming behind her, shutting her off from the outside world. She loved her house. She loved its robin-egg blue color and its white shutters with flower boxes filled with red vine geraniums. It was the perfect size for a couple. She stopped. She was no longer part of a couple. And it had just occurred to her that she hadn’t cried since he walked out the door. Not once. Wasn’t she supposed to break down at some point? Yes, he was a cad, but wasn’t the whole point to cry over the relationship lost and not over the scoundrel?
     Five days had passed since he left. That night he was packed up by seven, but decided to wait until dark to put his stuff in the car so the neighbors wouldn’t see him throwing his flimsy boxes of tattered underwear and ancient cassettes into his brand new SUV. Lisa wasn’t sure whether he was embarrassed of his sorry-looking possessions or the fact that he was moving out.
     She had just finished changing from stiff work trousers to comfy home shorts when the doorbell rang. Probably a teenager selling 3 lb. chocolate bars or a religious fanatic wanting to explain why Lisa was on a straight and narrow path to hell. She actually hoped it was a teenager selling chocolate – she had none in the house and the thought of munching stale crispy chocolate appealed to her in a surreal sort of way.
     She quickly pulled her hair back and secured it with an elastic band. What if it was Glen? He left his key on Sunday so theoretically he would have to ring the bell. The timing would certainly be off – she hadn’t had anything remotely resembling a breakdown yet. Would the mere sight of him be emotionally devastating?
     Lisa opened the door as the bell chimed again.
     It was Bill. Lisa’s eyes lowered. No, it was Bill and Phoebe. The shaggy dog had both front paws on the rim of the cement urn calmly chomping on a purple petunia. Perhaps Phoebe didn’t like the color purple. But weren’t dogs supposed to be color blind?
     “Bill…hi. So, you guys are moving?” She tried hard to keep any hint of hopefulness out of her voice.
     “Yeah…I got transferred. To Dayton,” he moaned.  “Can you believe it? Not San Diego. Not Miami. But good old Ohio.” 
     Lisa actually felt sorry for him.
     “That’s a tough break.”
     “Uh…I have a huge favor to ask you,” he said ominously.
     Bill stepped to one side of the porch and Lisa noticed a large duffel bag on the step.
     “Yeesss?” was all Lisa could say.
     “It’s Phoebe,” Bill began. “Sharon refuses to let me bring her.”
     Lisa’s eyes widened. No way was this going to happen.
     “So…I called my sister, Debbie, the one in Lansing,” he continued. “She’s going to come down on Sunday to pick up Phoebe. We’re leaving in a few minutes…Look, Lisa….”
     “I don’t know, Bill,” Lisa interrupted. No way. No freaking way was she going to keep monster dog for a weekend.
     “I waited until now because I kept hoping Sharon would change her mind,” Bill explained. “But…well…this morning Phoebe chewed up her new slippers and a belt and…well…you know how Sharon gets.”
     “Out of curiosity, what color were the slippers?”
     “Uh…a lilacky color,” he answered. “Sharon likes anything that’s purple.”

“Out of curiosity, what color were the slippers?”

     That was his problem, not hers.
     “Bill, I don’t know anything about dogs.” Which was true. The closest she came to caring for a dog was the time she was eight and begged her Dad for a turtle, which promptly died.
     “Lisa, it’s only until Sunday,” he reasoned, pulling a thin paperback book out of his back pocket and holding it out expectantly. “Here’s a book on dog care. There’s nothing to it.”
     Lisa stared at the bare petunia stems dangling from the urn and the half-chewed purple flowers scattered about the porch. She hated the color purple. It was Glen’s favorite color. Last May she had casually asked him if he wanted purple flowers in the front of the house again. His curt “Whatever” was another sign – another “flim flam,” Lisa failed to recognize. Pre-affair Glen would have acted not only enthusiastic about the purple flowers, he would have immediately hopped into the car to get them. She suddenly wanted to scramble safely inside and slam the door. After all, the Gilberts were leaving anyway, what did she care what Bill and Sharon thought of her now?
     Instead, Lisa sighed and accepted the book. It felt warm. Very warm.

It felt warm. Very warm.

     “Thanks, Lisa!” Bill gushed. He seemed truly relieved that she would be taking care of the little fiend.
     Bill grabbed the duffel bag and unzipped it.
     “These are her dishes,” he explained, holding up some ceramic bowls with ceramic dog bones attached to the outside. “The purple one is for food, the lavender one is for water.”
     Lisa sighed again.
     “Since it’s Sharon’s favorite color,” he explained. “I thought it would help…you know…with her and Phoebe…but….,” he trailed off. Lisa wanted that stale crispy chocolate. Badly.
     “William Gilbert!!!”
     Lisa and Bill grimaced as Sharon’s voice seemed to echo up and down the street. Phoebe whimpered and wrapped herself around Lisa’s legs, the leash forming a neat truss. Bill patted the terrified dog.
     “Well, goodbye, Lisa. And thanks,” he said, offering his hand.
     “Sure. Good luck,” Lisa answered solemnly, shaking his hand, and Lisa wondered if he knew what she meant.
     Bill was running down the driveway when he stopped.

It may not be soggy, but it IS purple!

    “Hey, I meant to ask you, ‘Glen on a business trip?’”
     Lisa shook her head. He waved and hustled across the street and into the garage.
     She unfurled herself from the leash and opened the door. Phoebe sat motionless, ears up, panting.
     “Inside. Let’s go.”
     The wicked little canine didn’t move.
     Lisa picked up a soggy purple petunia and threw it inside the house.

Next up: Part 4

Feature image by Tumisu from Pixabay (typography added by kathleenjae.com)
Purple aster with bonus Monarch Butterfly Photo by Evan Buchholz on Unsplash

Hose Video by Coverr-Free-Footage from Pixabay 
Fuzzy slippers Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels
Petunia Image by Julia Borodulina from Pixabay (cutout by kathleenjae.com)

© 1999-2020 kathleenjae.com (Kathleen Jae). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

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