The screen door slowly opened with a squeak. The hinges were reddish-brown with rust and curls of white paint peeled away from the wooden door. A pink noise poked out and sniffed at the air; the nose was followed by the black and white body of a small dog. The animal slipped the rest of the way out of the house and the door slammed behind it with a bang.
Scents of all kinds bombarded the tiny but powerful nostrils of the dog. It looked left and then right, orienting to its new surroundings. A squirrel watched from the branch of an oak tree in the front yard, holding a nut in its claws and waited to see what the domesticated creature would do next.
The dog took off in a beeline towards the edge of the yard, running with muscular strides, quickly drawing away from the house.
“Beanie!” a boy yelled as he pushed through the screen door. He wore jean shorts and striped tank top; dark hair fell over his forehead and hit the top of his ears, in a perfect bowl cut.
He yelled over his shoulder, “Beanie’s out, again!”
A girl followed the boy through the door, letting the door slam behind her. Bangs obstructed her view and she pushed heavy locks away from her nearsighted eyes. She wore a faded pair of jeans, rolled up at the bottoms with a thin t-shirt.
With bare feet, the pair raced after the dog, leaving mashed grass and flowers in their wake.
“Beanie! Beanie! Come back!” they yelled in unison.
Suddenly the dog stopped and looked back, it waited for the kids to catch up. Its sides heaved in and out and its tongue fell from its mouth as it rested for a second and then it took off again like a shot.
Chase me, shiny eyes begged as it risked a quick glance back at its pursuers.
The siblings laughed and resumed the chase after the dog.
An engine revved over the hill and a car appeared trailing a cloud of dust from the gravel road as it sped towards them. Screaming, the girl grabbed the boy with both arms, pulling him back from the road as the car flew past them.
The car intersected with the escaping dog. They watched its body hit the front of the car and shoot off to the side of the road. The girl’s heart pounded in her chest, she was still screaming. The car sped on, never once hitting its brakes as the dog lay still on its side. Its life whiffed out in the same moment as the fleeting innocence of childhood.
Once gone, always gone.