As rain graced the front lawn with its mild pitter-patter, he sighed as he turned his eyes from the window back to looking longingly through an old photo album. The fact that he had a photo album at all already hinted at the amount of dust he had to blow off before opening it. Eyes watering before he even got to the first page, he waited for his coughing fit to subside before attempting to make out individuals, years younger than they were now, on the glossy, colored rectangles. He saw familiar pictures of him as an infant that had been embarrassingly shown to every family acquaintance, family photos at various scenic locations and unremembered birthday parties, and his dad’s transition for donning glasses that made him look like a human fly to lenses that made him look like a pretty fly human. These were all just memories now; re-creating some of these events wouldn’t even be possible.
With a sharp intake of breath, he saw his first pet, Buddy. How had he forgotten him? A warm golden retriever, Buddy had been with him during his teenage years, loyally sitting at his side through all of the unspoken troubles that rebellious teenagers inevitably go through. He remembered throwing the frisbee as far as he could and watching Buddy race after it, then laughing as he watched Buddy jerk his head from side to side trying to throw it back to him. He remembered sitting on the couch, watching the television, and seeing Buddy amble along and plop down right under his feet – he remembered Buddy’s breath swelling slowly up and down against his legs. He remembered…
He killed Buddy.
As he pulled into the driveway late at night, that foolish, affable, loyal creature bounded right in front of his car and the consequential thud said enough. He ran out of his car without a second thought, but it was already too late; Buddy lay still, never to catch, nor attempt to throw, another frisbee again. He forgot about how he cried as he held the cooling body in his hands, waking up with a blanket draped around him. He forgot about walking into the house, shivering, holding Buddy in his arms, and collapsing in a chair, hearing what his parents said to console him, but not understanding anything they said. He forgot the months spent in quiet everywhere he went, swallowing bit by bit the guilt that had consumed his soul.
He got over it eventually, but they never talked about it again in that house. Buddy was in many more pictures in that album, but something suffocated the desire to continue reminiscing on the matter. It was raining that day as well. Suddenly, the rain outside intensified in volume, and it took on a more menacing tone, a rumble of thunder, a glare of lightning. He saw the headlights of his car rove into the driveway, he felt the thud, the rain washed over him. How quickly it was all over, years of companionship ended by an exaggerated gesture of welcome. He missed his Buddy.
He had no idea how long he had been repressing this memory. It has been decades since he even thought of Buddy, much less the circumstances in which Buddy had been killed. He never got another dog, nor did he ever desire another pet. He always felt pangs of melancholy echo in the chambers of his heart when he saw other dogs, but he figured it was just puppy love. He sighed. He thought he had suppressed recalling the tragedy for so long because he took the life of what had been his best friend – turns out he had just been saving it for a rainy day.