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Vancouver, WA

May 2nd, 2019

His wife was usually up before him since her job started at 6:30 in the morning and she needed time to wake up, clean up, and get moving. But on her days off she liked to sleep in and enjoy the morning. Their kids were usually up early as well to watch cartoons and bounce around for a while until it was time to do something with the day. But on this day he was the first up, though as he walked into the kitchen their dog, Bayley, was up and ready to go out as well, waiting for the door of her kennel to be opened. If not for her incessant need to chew everything in sight she would have been allowed to sleep wherever she wanted. But she accepted her kennel just fine, so there was no problem.

It was still just a few minutes shy of being five in the morning but he couldn’t sleep, and rising from the bed hadn’t even made his wife stir. Some mornings she was just dead to the world so to speak, and wouldn’t wake up unless someone jumped on her, like their kids. As he walked to the back door of their home, past the kitchen and through the laundry room, he unlocked, opened, and then stood back as Bayley, who was just big enough to bowl him over if she was really motivated to move past him, could make her way outside.

The husky was a good dog and a valued part of the family, and she had her routine as surely as the rest of them had theirs. As he watched her disappear around the bend in the back yard he walked outside as well, rubbing his arms to stave off the slight morning chill as a memory came unbidden to him in that moment. He knew where it came from and he had a good idea why, but it still made him smile faintly as he let it come.

Back when he’d still been in grade school, no more than ten or eleven years old in fact, he’d stayed up in Washougal with his aunt and uncle occasionally on the weekends. His two older cousins had often stayed with friends on the weekend or had events or camps to go to, and his younger cousin had slept like a rock as well. Back then his aunt and uncle had kept chickens, goats, pigs, horses, rabbits, and even one surly old donkey named Burt.

Tony could remember waking up early to go feed the animals, collect whatever eggs had been laid, and just walk around the farm in his uncle’s boots from time to time. It had been a great deal of fun and there had been mornings when his aunt or his uncle had even bothered to help him and show him the ropes. The memory was one of the many good ones that he could recall since it brought back a lot of interesting stories that he could tell those that would listen, and even made him smile as he remembered the antics of the animals back in those days. There’d been a rooster that was mean enough to run anyone out of the chicken coop and a goat that had decided to headbutt the back of his legs. The pigs hadn’t done much and the horses had been pretty nice, but that danged rooster was just an ornery cuss as he remembered it.

So lost was he in his memories that he didn’t even hear his daughter until she raised her voice a bit, saying “Daddy?” once again as he turned around.

He smiled at his little girl, a beauty just like her mother with reddish-blonde hair and a dimpled smile as she held out her arms to be picked up. Taking the girl in her arms Tony walked back inside, somehow already feeling better about the day.

(to be continued)

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