Romney Richlieu cursed. Bad luck was following her as usual.
Her whole life had been one giant screw up, and now this.
She mimicked Mrs. Breiton’s words. “We’re so sorry. It’s nothing to do with your leg, Romney. The company is in financial difficulty and we have to let a few people go.”
Sorry, my ass. I don’t know why they hired me in the first place. I didn’t hide my leg. It’s all skinny and ugly and it’s totally obvious my shoe is built-up. They could see that from the time I went for the first interview. I suppose it’s because of that silly woman with the Chihuahua in her purse. How was I supposed to know it was there? I like animals. I wouldn’t have put the file on top of the purse if she had told me it was there. And anyhow, the dog is fine.
She dragged her personal items from her drawer and tossed them all in the trash can. Like her life, nothing in there was worth saving.
She walked out of that place with her head held high. It wasn’t totally a normal walk, but she didn’t limp so much these days with the new orthotic shoe. So now what? She couldn’t even claim on unemployment because she hadn’t been there long enough. Maybe next time she should wear long pants to the interview and they wouldn’t see her leg. But these days with the recession, it seemed that the only way she could get a job was because of the sympathy factor. The poor crippled girl. We should be nice to her.
She stopped in the park and flopped onto a bench. She hadn’t allowed herself to think about her circumstances, but now fear clutched at her stomach. How will I pay the rent? Will they kick me out? Oh God. I wish I could just die.” She held her head in her hands and cried quietly.
“What the . . .?” She looked up sharply when something wet made contact with her arm. A dog—and he was licking her.
“What are you doing?” She pushed him away. He stood there and wagged his tail—and his whole butt wagged with it. He showed her his teeth. But he wasn’t snarling. He was smiling. The mutt was smiling at her. She tried to keep the stern look on her face, but he looked so funny with his butt wiggling like that and the goofy grin, she laughed out loud. Then she noticed his leg. One of his back legs was all shriveled up, the muscles useless and wasted like hers, and he held it up off the ground.
It didn’t seem to bother him. He wasn’t pissed off with life. In fact, he looked epically happy to see her. He had matted, dirty white fur, and he wasn’t wearing a collar. When she looked closer she could see he was all skin and bone. She reached out and patted him on his head and his butt wagged harder than before. He made a whining kind of noise.
“I do believe you’re talking to me,” she said. “You must be a stray, and yet you look so frikkin’ happy despite your bad leg, and you probably haven’t had a square meal for a while.”
She jerked when she noticed an old lady sitting at the other end of the bench. Where had she come from? She was smiling at Romney and petting the dog. “This is Andy,” she said. “He was mine, but I passed, and he was left to fend for himself. He’s yours now.” Before Romney could even open her mouth to reply, she was gone.
Was she really ever there?
Romney shrugged and smiled down at him. Smiling did something to her. It made her feel hopeful. “Well, Andy, let’s go see what we can do to get back on our feet. The first thing I’m gonna do is get you a square meal. I feel like our luck has just changed.”
Andy barked twice, and they limped out of the park together.
Trish Jackson grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe, Africa, and lived through some crazy adventures that sparked her imagination; including having to keep a loaded UZI by her side every night in case of an attack by armed insurgents. She loves all animals and often includes them in her stories. She’s happiest with her wonderful family members, or in her country home in Florida tapping out a new novel on her computer. Find out more at http://www.trishjackson.com .