Our thoughts on these 2 stories written by classmates , your responses should have :
What you love about the story; What you think is working well
Anything the story reminds you of or makes you think about
Any questions you have about these stories
Any opportunities you see in the story to make it even more energetic and engaging. This might include opportunities related to.
What you take away from the story, and any other final thoughts.
Story 1 :
Ten years ago, today, November 28th, 2001, I married my best friend. I was so deeply in love with her, I would have done anything for her. I used to love listening to her talk, her voice like windchimes on a warm summer’s day. Her brown hair flowed like a river down her back, her eyes glistened like diamonds sparkling in the light. Stella was the woman of my dreams; life was so perfect with her. Perfection doesn’t last forever, I guess. Two nights ago….my fairytale dream turned into a horrific nightmare. *Two days beforehand: November 26th, 2011* “Honey, I’m home!” Frank shouted while hanging his jacket on the hook by the door. He lifts his baseball cap off his head exposing his short scraggly hair mixed with salt and pepper grays. He ran his left hand through it while placing his keys on the table. He stops to look in the mirror. He stares at himself for a moment, studying the reflection looking back at him. His brown eyes surrounded with exhausted dark circles. He puffs his chest up with a deep breath, his muscles stiffen, and he forces a smile. His white teeth clenched together. He turns away and walks up the stairs. “Stella, are you up here? What are you doing, sweetie?” As he gets to the top of the stairs he hears low mumbling, voices exchanging franticly. He runs to their bedroom and tries to open the door. It’s locked. “Stella are you in there?” he screams, “Stella let me in, are you hurt? What’s going on, unlock the door!” He pleads while wrestling the doorknob. He panics and a wave of anxiety and rage crashes hard over him. He kicks the door in.
“Holy shit Frank! What are you crazy! I was sleeping. Now we need a new door!” Stella shouts while pulling the sheet up to her chin, exposing she bare shoulders, her breast barely covered by the sheet.
“Where are your clothes.” He questions, “And why was the door locked. You never nap. You never sleep naked. You never lock the door.” His face turns red, “who is in here Stella?” Water fills his eyes. “Who is in here dammit!” He walks over to the closet, just as he is about to open it, Stella pulls him back.
“Baby please, nobody is in here, I’m sorry, I just….” She stutters, “I was just enjoying myself. You know, having some alone time. I wasn’t sure when you’d come home and…” Her eyes dart to the closet and then back at him. She tries to kiss him, he pulls away.
“You must think I’m an idiot Stella. Someone’s in that closet aren’t they. Tell me who is in there or I’ll find out for myself.” He turns to the closet and punches the door. “Come out you coward! Face me like a man! Sleeping with another man’s wife…” Spit sprays from his mouth as he shouts, “You got some nerve asshole, come out!” A mumbled voice comes from behind the door. “Yeah, I hear you in there! Get your ass out here, NOW!” He flings the closet door open. An angry tear falls down his cheek as he stares into the closet with disbelief. His body shifts from ready to fight, to defeated. He turns to Stella, “Who is this. I… I just don’t understand. Why?” He sits on the bed dropping his head into his hands.
Stella tries to reason with him, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, I just… I just wanted to see if I liked it. I didn’t think you’d be upset. I just…” She crouches down in front of him trying to make eye contact. “I was curious, and I figured you wouldn’t mind.” She tries pulling his hands away.
The mystery guest emerges from the closet and finally speaks, “Hey man, for what it’s worth she mentioned you over and over. She was worried you’d be upset. I’m open to letting you join if you’re interested.”
“Destiny shut up! Just put your clothes on and leave!” Stella snaps at her, “I knew this would be a mistake. Please, just go.” She turns back to Frank, “Babe, please, is it really cheating if it’s a woman? I didn’t think it would be. I wanted to tell you, but I wasn’t sure if…. If I’d like it.” Destiny shakes her head and leaves the room. The sound of her slamming the front door shakes the house.
“So you just invite some stranger into OUR home?” Frank snaps while standing up and pulling away from her. “I can’t believe you would ever think this is okay. Man or woman this is cheating. Hiding this from me was wrong. How could you do this to me? I loved you…” He turns around and grabs her. She shouts and he pulls her close. “I want you out. You need to get out. Leave here immediately. I never want to see your face again.” He lets her go. He grabs a suitcase and starts shoving her clothes into it. “And get dressed, would you? I don’t need to see what someone else had access to.”
“Frank please,” She cries. “I love you honey, I just wanted to…” He tosses pants and a t-shirt at her. “Baby please. Don’t do this. I’m sorry” She pleads. “I don’t want to go Frank. I’ll never do this again, please!” She tried pulling him to face her. “I don’t have anywhere else to go Frank! You are all I have!” She drops to her knees. Through her hysterics she mumbles “Please. I love you.” Frank zips the suitcase and takes it down to the front door. Stella follows, her shirt stained with tears. Her phone in hand. “Fine, you want me out. I’ll go.” She opens the front door, and to Frank’s surprise, Destiny is standing waiting for her. “Help me with my bag love?” Destiny smirks and grabs her suitcase in one hand and Stella’s in the other. “You did this Frank; you always chose work over me. Now, I’ll choose fun over you.”
“Screw you.” Frank slams the door shut. He paces for a moment and then stops in front of the mirror, gazing at himself once again. He studies the redness in his eyes, watches the tears race down his face and onto his shirt. He forces a painful smile. While closing his eyes her smashes the mirror with his large fist, the sound of glass shards spraying across the room fills the silent air.
Her fox-like red and white tail tickled my legs as she pranced by. Like a teenager, not wanting to leave a note but dropping hints that she was going out. She was always delicate on her four feet. I stopped in the aisle and watched her for a moment, as she bounced beyond the barn door and down to the pastures. My focus shifted to my breath, making wreaths as I breathed in bitterness and breathed out warmth. I often stalled, when in the barn. I didn’t care if it was January and 16 degrees out, it was home. My heart smiled here, and I loved watching the odd, but beautiful friendship between Cody and Ruby. I wished, at that moment, that it would always be this way.
A blue darkness dominated the sky. Warm in bed, I slept, oblivious to the changes.
Until, the car screeched to a stop at the light. A scream electrified my heart.
With the sudden propensity to understand, with a cloud of doubt entangling my thoughts, my eyes sprang open, my heart jumped from my chest, and it never returned.
Her breathing was shallow at the foot of my bed.
She never slept at the foot of my bed.
She always nuzzled in next to me, her face resting on my favorite forearm freckle. Her red and white fur would always smell of moss and maple leaves, with a faint “I’ve been visiting the horses” aroma. It was always diluted beneath the earthly scents, always pleasant.
Cody was a Paint. He stood 16 hands high, and was about as sassy as they come. He was a jester disguised as a horse. You couldn’t walk by him with a hood on without him pulling it over your eyes, or knocking you to the ground after shuffling you backwards. He would happily, and possibly sadistically unzip anything you had wanted zipped. If you wore a hat, he would show you a hat trick and pull it from your head and toss it into his water bucket. He was also sweet, behind his ears, was a favorite scratching spot. He would always willingly allow you to kiss his velvety nose. He was an easy rider, and needed nothing more than voice commands. He was a little more go than woah, but that made the trail rides a bit more adventurous.
Every morning, no matter the weather Cody would trott up to the gate with its green chipped paint and rust displaying the force of a Maine winter.
Ruby started every morning pretty similarly. She nuzzled me impatiently. Her warm nose pressed hard where my neck and shoulder meet, and she let out a huge sigh. She was always dramatic this way, I’m willing to bet she learned it from Cody.
I found my way to my feet and made my way to the kitchen. A pot of tea whistled before Ruby made another demand of me. No sooner did a spoonful of honey and a dash of milk make its way to my tea, before Ruby rang her bell. She wanted out. I opened the back door, overlooking the rolling, sloping green pastures, and the ponds where the ducks were already washing, and stretching their wings. There she met up with Cody at the gate, and they always did what I can only describe as a Ceremonial play dance.
She leapt forward and fell into downward dog, he nodded his head a few too many times, and then they both stopped. He stomped, and inched forward. He turned left and she headed right. He stopped, froze, and threw himself to the ground and rolled. At this point, either bored or smart, Ruby stopped where she was, 30 feet from him and sat. He got up, and she rolled. He watched until she was thoroughly dusty, and it started up again. Eventually one of them decided it was time to run. Ruby and Cody ran to the opposite end of the 5 acre pasture and came back, full stop, and the chase happened again. This continued for hours. It was a bond like no other.
I was seventeen when she was just a pup.
“Mom, I did a thing, I’m going to be looking for a new place.” It was the first long breath I had taken since I sent $700 to someone i’d never met, halfway across the country,
Entrusting that they would send me an eight week old border collie puppy.
“Why?” Mom questioned, knowing full-well it was something she wouldn’t be thrilled about, initially.
“I.. Uh.. well, I bought a puppy.” I stuttered while desperately reaching for my phone. I had to have her lay eyes on the gorgeous green eyed pup. “See” I practically threw my phone at her.
“You what?! Bought a puppy? How much?” She said as she reached for my phone out of a politeness that had long been instilled in her. A politeness I was ever so grateful for in the moment. “Awe, she’s cute. We can’t have dogs here, you know we can’t. Carl said no dogs, it’s the one rule he is really strict on. We already have a cat we’re not supposed to have here. Somehow mom blended that entire thought into one jumbled run on sentence. She was good at blending her thoughts when she got all worked up.
“I already asked Carl, he said I have one month.” I whispered now, trying to calm my slightly frantic mother.
“You told the landlord before you told me??” She asked this question a bit too hard, trying to hide the twinge of hurt she felt that she wasn’t the first to know, she liked to be kept in the loop. Generally I liked keeping her in the loop. But this time, I had to ask forgiveness, not permission. “When do you pick her up?” She said flatly, still trying to act nonchalant.
“I pick her up at the airport at 2pm.” An excited smile danced across my face.
“Today?!” Her excitement wasn’t well hidden now.
I smiled, yes.
The rest of the conversation was so clouded with excitement that I couldn’t be sure what else had been said.
Her breaths were diminished, her tongue hung out the side of her open mouth.
I peeled her eyelids back to see if I would be able to see any signs of life. Her eyes were tucked somewhere between her brain and her eyebrows. Only the whites of her eyes looked back at me. I picked her up, and her body held a softness in my arms, but still a warmth. She didn’t try to lick my face in typical Ruby fashion. Her heart was beating like a too long introduction to a Garth Brooks song. But it beat.
My eyes welled up. There wasn’t a force on earth or in the stars that could have made me put her down. I grabbed my boots. I wrapped her carefully in a homemade tie blanket. It was a light green fleece with white spots. It was still soft, but the love it had endured was evident in its now wooly facade.
The snow was higher than my boots. It’s bitterness bit at my heels where it had not so sneakily snuck its way into my Mucks. Cody was awake when he normally wouldn’t be, and so was I.
With my eyes filled with a wetness I didn’t want to accept, I carefully placed Ruby in the front seat of my beat up old jeep, and I drove. My hand on her little paw. I spoke to her. I told her I loved her. I begged God, if there was one, to prove it to me right then.
“Just let her be okay.” I yelled, I demanded.
I pulled up at the airport, I was nervous and not really sure where I was going. I went alone. Somehow this made me feel like an adult. Like I hadn’t gone behind my mom’s back, and begged the landlord to let me have a dog. When I got to the baggage claim, I showed the man there my ticket for her pick up.
“Just a moment.” He said as he scuffed his feet across the freshly waxed floor. “Here’s your package.” He smiled.
She was the cutest thing I had ever seen. She had green eyes, the fluffiest red and white fur you had ever patted. But I couldn’t get her out of the crate. I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know how to open it. So I carried the crate, puppy and all to my little green Hyundai accent. I Still didn’t know how to open it. I debated running back inside to see if someone would help me. But that just didn’t seem like it was responsible enough. So I manhandled the crate. I broke it. I pulled as hard as I could on the wire face of it until the plastic buckled. Ruby, the poor thing just underwent a plane ride from Arizona to Maine, and if the flight, and the sudden drop in temperature wasn’t enough, I certainly stressed her out a bit more by busting into that crate. As soon as I had her out of that cage I just hugged her. I kissed a spot on the top of her head that would later become widely known as her kissing spot. I put her collar on her, I gently placed her in the front seat, and I drove, my hand on her paw, and her face on the back of my hand. That was the way it always was. Until it wasn’t.
I drove two towns over, it was barely 3am. The darkness seemed even thicker with the cloud surrounding my heart.
“She’s going to be okay. She’s going to be okay. She’s going to be okay. She’s going to be okay.” I repeated, recalling the little blue engine’s mantra.
I came to a stop light, and her little body flailed. Her neck was erect, further back than a dog’s neck should ever go. Her whole body tightened. Every single muscle in her body was in use. Except one. Her body went limp. Her tongue no longer hung out of her mouth but her mouth was open. I touched her tongue to check for a reflex. There was nothing. I screamed. I don’t remember the next hour to the emergency vet’s office. I don’t even remember calling them to tell them we were coming. When We pulled in, a thin brunette with a stethoscope in her hands ran out. She looked at my face. She saw, she knew.
“I think she’s gone” I mumbled. “Please just check?” I asked as all the pieces of my heart scattered across that dimly lit parking lot.
“She is gone.” the woman stated, as professional as she could, she could see the hurt strewn all over my body.
“Thank you.” I think I said. I can’t be sure. My mind wasn’t right and my heart didn’t exist any longer. My soulmate, she was dead. How could such an amazing being with the most beautiful essence be put on this earth to only be allotted two short years? Didn’t GOD know I needed her? I need her.
Somehow I got home, but Ruby wasn’t with me. But there he stood, by the rusty old green gate. I walked to him. He didn’t take off my hat, or try to unzip my coat. He stood. He nuzzled me where my neck and shoulder meet, here he pressed his nose in, let out a sigh and then he was still. We stood there for hours. I think I would have frozen outside if it wasn’t for Cody sheltering me from the wind. His bleeding heart cared so deeply for Ruby that he placed a tourniquet around mine to keep my emotions from bleeding out. He was my saving grace.
It wasn’t but a week later when I needed the pitter patter of pawprints in my house and heart, and I adopted Willow. Every morning, Cody would stand by the gate, and he would wait for the hound dog to come out and play. She would saunter on out, heavy on her feet, and she would jump and flail around and chase Cody through the pastures, and he would chase her. It wasn’t instant, but Cody and I accepted Willow into our hearts where a small red and white border collie once stood.
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