Memoir: Ellie Stenzel

Ellie Stenzel
Mr. Jockers
The Surprise.

He roamed across the driveway. Yanking the person who stood behind him, leash in hand. My mom then pulled the dog with much force, switching his original direction, to a new path, the car. He alternated back and forth when he reached the back of the car, throwing him in the back, my mom returned back to the driver’s seat. Her hands tight on the steering wheel, and sweat trickling down her forehead. I swung my head around to peer at the dog, and to my surprise he seemed to be doing the same thing. He bared his sharp teeth at me, and I began to back away, from the surprise my mom could not stop speaking of.
The sun was beaming, straight into my eyes from behind the glass. The sun was just finally arising after several days of rain in “sunny Florida”. My family was tightly packed into the car after a slow day of school on a Friday. Excluding my dad who would arrive home from work in only a few hours (unless he had a last minute work dinner to attend to). I sat silently, sinking into the charcoal black seat, fidgeting with my hands impatiently, while we traveled down a road I was unfamiliar with. I at first assumed it was another grocery store or an unexpected shopping trip, my mom always dragged us along to. I wondered why my mom would bother having all of us accompany her, instead of just bringing one of us with her. Like usual.
“Where are we going?” My brother mumbled next to me.
“I know.” I didn’t though. I was very confused, just like my siblings. I quit reading my book, ‘The Titan’s Curse’, by Rick Riordan and glanced up. We were parked. I was baffled by where we were. We were finally, after decades, parked in a… beaten up driveway with run-down houses all throughout the neighborhood, including the one we were at.
“Why are we here?” I questioned.
“You’ll find out soon.” My sister replied from the passenger side of the car, a smirk beginning to appear on her face. I soon heard the muffled sound of dog’s barking. Out of the corner of my eye from behind the windshield, I noticed a dog panting from the heat. I recalled the several dogs my family had previously taken care of and the resemblance to the black dog turning his head in curiousity. The bushy dog appeared well-fed and healthy. I examined the area around the dog to my surprise I discovered another dog. The dog was the exact opposite of the dog it growled at, as it began strolling over. Ribs, and a thin layering of fur. Those were just the things that popped out at you first. What you wouldn’t notice is the sorrow in his eyes. And the way his growl returned to a pout. And the way he collapsed on the pile of dirt, settled next to a bowl, that looked ancient with muck and bugs crawling throughout, instead of the doghouse, the black dog lie comfortably inside. And the way he constantly glanced over, peering at the other dog. Doors of the car slammed shut, shifting my eyes over to the two figures, my brother and mom approached the paintless door. I worried at who would appear on the other side, if it ever opened. After countless knocks a man with a worn out white t-shirt and wrinkly cargo shorts appeared at the door. My mother briefly spoke to the man, the conversation ended with a wave of the man’s hand. My mom and brother rushed around to the wooden unstable gate, just as the man SLAMMED the door, shaking the stairs beneath it. I was puzzled. She then unlocked the gate with a worried expression plastered over her face. The dog sauntered back over to the gate and stared at the woman that stood before him. He barked with much force, like thunder hitting the ground. Sashaying around the dog, my mom fixed a collar around him, a leash attached. The dog gave off a vicious vibe, with his teeth baring out in a scowl, as he was lifted into the back of the charcoal black Honda. I leaped back in fear as the dog snarled at me. I tugged on my seatbelt and put as much distance as I could from me and what lie in the back of the car.. The car soon came to a short stop after an abrupt turn. My family barged out of the car, I was unsure what we were even stopped for, but I followed suit as the youngest. I peeked up at the building in front of me, despite the sun glaring in my eyes, I understood we were at the vet. My brother lie with his head hung over the back of the chair, and my sister continued to swipe continuously on her phone screen, as we waited for our mom to walk through the wooden door, indicating we could finally depart. It felt as if hours had gone by. I began to feel anxious as many dogs arriving, left only shortly after. I ran my fingers along the seam of the chair, that once felt plush, began to feel about as comfortable as a rock. The sides of my mouth wiggled up, when my mom was eventually the person on the other side of the door. Unfortunately, the dog stood behind her, obviously accompanying us home too. Setting a manila file next to me, as she walked to the front desk, I glanced inside. The papers stated the dog was a boxer breed, who was way underweight and was around the age of 3, but unclear due his birthday being unknown. I noticed how the dog nestled in between two chairs in a corner, my sister’s grip tight on the leash. He hid from the other dogs, frightened, while they tried to befriend him.
“Come on. It’s time to go guys.” My mom said as she headed towards the door.
“Alright. We’re coming.” My sister responded back, before I had the chance. I pushed forcefully on the door out, soon realizing it was a door you had to pull on of course. The music hummed softly in the background of the captivating scene. The sun was shifting from a burnt orange and the red lights from the millions of cars streamed across the road, like a river full of glistening waves. I held the back of my shaking hand to the dog who had eventually calmed after being hushed by the car horns far more superior to his bark. He arose and sniffed the back of my hand, I assumed he categorized it as unimportant and settled back down onto the shaggy blanket, covering the floor of the tailgate. I caved into the seat. I closed my eyes and thought back to the dog petrified by the others that stood next to him in the vets. I realized the dog wasn’t as scary as he came off, but more terrified of those who stood before him. I just was too trained on the thought of him being violent to not comprehend he was just startled.

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