I See You | Sophie L Macdonald

I See You

Sophie L Macdonald

The Heineken Memorial Award

Pets aren’t allowed in motel rooms, but you were so quiet at my feet, and the lady didn’t look twice anyhow.

“This way, Miss Smith,” she said. Obviously not my name. I can’t believe we actually pulled it off.

Maybe one day I’ll have kids, and I can tell them the story—our dramatic escape from hospital—me with my bare butt hanging out of that gown, running down corridors with you under my arm, your tail wagging the whole time.

I thought it was all over at first. When I asked if my dog could visit they said no: animals were not permitted in hospitals. The guy said it with a little smirk and wrote something down. I asked if I could go and see you, and he said I couldn’t leave just yet. That was when I started to panic, but I thought of you, and I knew that you would find a way to get to me. My rotten family would never visit me, but I knew you would come.

The hospital smelled bad, and it was full of sick and crazy people. I kept explaining that you were my only friend, Charlie, and how I would feel better if I could just see you again. You keep me calm. But they wouldn’t listen. They kept asking me questions, and not giving answers. It felt like forever.

Then one night you appeared. I don’t know how you got in, but you were looking up at me with those big round eyes, and I suddenly knew everything was going to be okay. You’ve always made me feel like that—even when I was a little girl. It’s you and me, Charlie, against the world.

When you showed up like that, I knew exactly what to do. It’s like my brain went calm, and the thoughts stopped tangling up. I found spare scrubs hanging up, and I put them on, I grabbed my purse, and I ran straight out of the front door. No one even stopped me. Maybe they thought I was a doctor. Maybe they saw me holding you, and wanted your germs out of there, Charlie.

That was just a joke. You don’t have germs.

I don’t drive, so getting to the motel was hard, and it was a cold day. In the end I flagged down a car, and told the lady I was a doctor finishing her shift, in need of a ride to a local motel. It wasn’t the best story. Plus I didn’t have shoes on. She looked at me strangely, but she said okay, and she didn’t seem to mind me bringing a dog in her car. The sun was coming up over the ocean, washing gold over your white fur. I felt like it was a sign—a new life for me and you.

Now I’m lying next to you on the motel bed, feeling your warm little body radiating heat through mine. When they first took me to hospital I thought it was game over, Charlie. I thought I’d lost you and I really thought I’d lost my mind. Some of the things they said to me in there—they said you weren’t real. They said I was too old for imaginary friends now. They asked if I was having hallucinations. They even asked if you talked! I said: “Only if you count his bark!” But they never laughed.

You’re the realest thing in my life, Charlie.

I can see the ocean from the window, and soon we’ll go and have adventures on the beach. I don’t know where we’ll live or what we’ll do, but we’ll be happy together. They might not see you, Charlie, but I do. Everything’s okay now, and I know the problem is not with us.

I see you.

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