The fact he was away a lot gave Rebecca plenty of time. As a teacher the relentless pressure of meaningless paper work and things to do for a class meant she relished her exercise clubs. The first was zumba at the church hall and then it was Body Pump at the leisure centre. These were the chocolate-like spiral of things that lit up the mid-week. The weekend was the running club or the white water rafting bunch of friends meeting up.
The sun was low as she drove out of the town. It would be five minutes drive to get to the zumba. The quick loop road off their new estate and into the town was lined on the right by a patch of woodland. The council had not long ago dug out a pond and planted to encourage wildlife. The path into to it (as she knew to her cost when out running) would often be lined by the shit from the dogs walked along the path and past the small pond.
Passing the start of the path she noticed a man she recognised as her neighbour head toward the turn to the right that was the start of the path. He was obviously distressed and looked pretty unfit. His plain blue t-shirt had a small belly bulge and he was red in the face. He seemed to be chasing something. As she passed the thirty speed limit sign she noticed a small brown and white shape. It was their dog. A small dog that was a bundle of energy and white fur it seemed to turn tail and head up to the pond on the right which was further up the path.
Seeing she was well ahead of schedule. She had wanted to stretch her left hamstring and chat to her friend about them all going to Nice next year so there was twenty minutes to spare.
‘Can I help?’
By now she was on the path that was flanked on the town side by large fields. She had parked at the first street on the left that was twenty or thirty metres back into the town. Further on across the open countryside lay Dunfermline to the south.
‘He’s a wee escape merchant so he is. I was cutting the hedge opposite your block and he legged it as soon as the wee one opened the metal gate. ‘
‘I can help for a few minutes before I hit the dance floor down at the hall. Excuse the look from the eighties.’ Her tight Nike leggings made her feel a little self-conscious.
The small walk up to the pond led to the wooden platform the council had made. It was for the children and community to see the coots, herons and mute swans it would now attract. The dog was bounding across the reeds lining the edge of the pond and heading for the open road.
They both-despite the slow jumping of the dog against the clumps of grass and reeds knew the busy road lay ahead.
Running down the road which was topped with red small stones and grit he continued to sweat and swear just as they approached the end and the main road.
The dog was at the foot of the lamppost just opposite the builder’s yard where the new estate had grown till the bankers had brought civilisation to its knees.
The dog barked in the sharp and high notes Rebecca recognised from when the daughter would be out learning to ride a bike in the cul de sac where their house was and her block of flats. The dog looked up as from about twenty metres away its master shouted at him.
Looking up and heading for them the dog went off the road. The bus-the usual one for the town was coming up behind them.
The dog went under the front wheel on the left of the bus away from the driver’s side. Not a sound as the fur and noise went from sight.
The bus came to a halt before their roundabout. The dog seemed only to be lying still as they both approached looking for traffic from both ways.
He picked up the small shape and cradled it to the side of the road.
Putting the dog down they both crouched down. The small line of blood above the right eye was the only sign.
‘For all he was an escape artist and chewed that kitchen tae bits we all loved him you know,’ he said.
‘Do you want a hand to get him back?’ she replied.
‘Naw. You get on. She’ll be back from the Brownies or swimming soon. I have to think what to do.’
Walking the brief distance into the town she felt the cold now her sweat had cooled. The autumn light was fading. She felt the gap that she had forgotten about. The one when her mother’s grandad had died. Nothing had been said at the funeral and at the bit of tea later. Nothing.
She would go back and shower. Perhaps going over about eight might be a good idea. The tears of their daughter were something she could see already.