It was spray-painted in vivid scarlet and gold trim, a single word along concrete blocks: Remember.
Around it, the acrylic flowers of Yellowhoppe Elementary second graders clumped awkwardly. Only a few were above the letters, as only a few of the students were tall enough to reach. Below these and leaning against the wall, was a trim of soggy teddy bears and burnt candles.
“I liked the ‘Wonder!’ theme better.”
Diggy reached out and scratched a few layers of crusted paint from a pink flower, watching the little chips fall next to his muddy tennis shoes. Yellowhoppe’s park wasn’t the best park he had ever been to, but at least this one was within walking distance to his Grandma’s house. And it did have pretty good climbing trees and a broken chain-link swing where a kid could swing like Tarzan. Well, so long as no adults were around. Today, he even had it all to himself, thanks to the lakes of mud that formed after the morning’s rain.
Diggy looked down at his shoes, then his stained jeans, and then at his ruined, at one point, stark-white t-shirt. Grandma wasn’t going to be happy about this. Maybe he could just say he fell? His chocolate eyes were known to melt those of his potential scolders.
Although, today, he had an additional weapon in his back pocket. Or rather, not really in his back pocket, but sitting next to the wall patiently while he had been digging in the mud (an activity that earned him his nickname from an early age). Diggy had a whole pizza!
He couldn’t believe his luck! The back door of the pizza truck was left wide open and a stack of… well, he didn’t count how many, but there were a lot of pizzas in there! The driver with the funny colored uniform and backward-facing cap only carried a couple of boxes with him. As Diggy was passing by, he watched as a pretty lady, who sort of looked like his third-grade teacher Ms. Carrowyne (although, this lady couldn’t possibly be her, because she didn’t have glasses and she didn’t have her hair in a bun with pens sticking out), answered the door with bright red lips and a matching dress. By the time Diggy reached the car, the two were still laughing about something and the lady had yet to relieve the man of his pizza holding duties.
They laughed for so long, Diggy had time to stand by the open door and wonder who would be so hungry? Would they really eat all that pizza? Or would it be like every time Grandma let him cut his own slice of cake, only for him to re-discover that his eyes were in fact, MUCH larger than his stomach. Just as he was comparing the number of boxes to the fingers on his hands, his stomach growled.
He was kinda hungry.
Who would miss just one pizza out of so many?
However, his Grandpa had taught him about karma. Karma was very important. It was why Grandpa would build little treehouses from the wood he found thrown in dumpsters outside of construction sites. Diggy thought about these memories as he sped walked the rest of the way to the park with a pizza box in hand. Karma quickly filtered out of his mind as the scent of melted cheese hit his nose.
His Grandpa had always been a lot of fun, but some of the best memories Diggy could remember, were being picked up and dropped into large, green dumpsters, and then throwing wood scraps over the side. On their way home, Diggy would search for a piece of wood just right to be his sword and then sit on top of the woodpile in Grandpa’s red wheelbarrow. Diggy was always the captain of his ship, commanding his first mate to sail to only the most secret island to bury their new treasure. His first mate would always take long, winding routes on the way back to their hideout, sometimes cutting through green seas or speeding on the account of fierce hurricane-induced winds. Grandpa’s runs with the wheelbarrow eventually grew slower and slower as his coughing started to get worse, but Diggy didn’t mind. Calmer waters meant for a longer ride.
Diggy nudged the toe of his tennis shoe against one of the soggy bears. Its head rolled to the side and its black marble eyes looked up at him with a questioning grin.
You’re supposed to pay for pizza, Diggy knew this, but he didn’t have any money. But he also knew Grandpa would put his hands on his waist and make the same Grandpa sound he always did as he shook his head, “what did I tell you about sticky fingers?”
It was bad. Which meant, Diggy now had bad karma. He knew this the moment he took the pizza. He had thought; surely other hungry kids would be at the park? He could share? Sharing is caring and caring is good karma. His plan was flawless!
At least, until there were no other kids at the park. Besides him, and the pizza, and the soggy bears, there was only a picture of a young woman in a green plaid shirt with brown hair and a toothy smile. Diggy didn’t know her, but he remembered his Grandma reading the paper with the same picture on the front page.
When he asked Grandma about who the lady was, Grandma only explained how she was a neighbor who was sick for a while, then passed away. Diggy remembered watching her fold up the newspaper and head towards the kitchen.
She always told him everyone is your neighbor, so that didn’t help much. Although, he was more curious about something else.
Diggy asked her if the lady coughed a lot before she died. Grandma stopped filling up her teapot to answer, “No sweetie. She was sick in a different way.”
Diggy squatted down and hugged his knees. She didn’t look sick in her picture, but this one must’ve been an old one. Grandpa started to get skinny and had deep, blue bags under his eyes like bruises. Though that didn’t happen until his coughing got worse. This lady was pretty, and her coffee cream eyes looked like they were laughing.
Diggy wondered if she ever came to the park to play when she was a kid. He reached over to the soggy bear and straightened out its head. As he pinched the soggy, brown ear, a drop of water squeezed out and raced down his finger. This was no good. Who liked soggy toys? Diggy looked back at the picture. Well, she looked too old for toys anyway.
Diggy perked up and smiled to himself. He reached over to the pizza box and dragged the carboard over to him. Upon his first time opening it, he found he had obtained the perfect pepperoni pizza, without any gross peppers or olives that Grandma liked to add. He didn’t know many people who didn’t like pepperoni, so this would work quite nicely.
Diggy carefully pulled the cooled cheese between two slices with his muddy fingers until he had a slice in hand, and then placed his offering in front of the picture. The lady in the picture seemed to smile a little brighter. Finally, she had something other than soggy teddy bears.
Happy that his good karma had been fulfilled, Diggy closed the box and started his journey back to Grandma’s house.
The shortest path, that would also steer him away from the location of the pizza heist, was to cut through downtown Yellowhoppe. He used to be afraid to use this shortcut, but he had grown up a lot since then. Now, the cars didn’t seem so loud and the dense crowd of people didn’t seem so big. Now, it was quite fun.
There were many shops that lined the main road with shop local! signs in the doorways and fantastic and colorful displays in the windows. The best time to go from window to window was during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, when the town held contests over the best displays. Every year, Diggy would imagine himself as one of the secret judges in charge of the event and would be sure to award the winner with a carefully drawn 100,000-dollar bill. The past two years belonged to Mr. Wallins, who taped these bills to the register of his toy shoppe for all to see.
Diggy made sure to stop in front of his window, looking in at the latest set of Marvel action figures frozen in the midst of combat with cardboard cut-outs of ‘BAM!’ and ‘POW!’ surrounding them. Suddenly, Diggy wished he wasn’t so muddy so that he could go inside and inspect them for Mr. Wallins.
Diggy’s thoughts on his important duties as toy inspector were interrupted by a pair of red braids bouncing towards him. Adaline Vaneres was a bright-eyed little girl who was known for her stained overalls and ever rambling mind that crafted brilliant stories, capable of making the nearest five kids on the bus near her stop screaming long enough to listen. She was also known as Addie, Diggy’s best friend. Today, her overalls were accompanied by a white and purple striped, long-sleeved shirt with red shoes nearly the same color as her hair. Diggy noticed she was carrying a little blue notebook.
“Diggy! I need an actor really bad!”
Diggy narrowed his eyes, “I think you need to go to Hollywood or something to find them.”
“No, I need you to be one!”
“An actor? I’m not an actor.”
Nor was he particularly interested in pretending to be one. Addie always had new games she wanted to try. Diggy, on the other hand, was satisfied with pirates and the occasional tea party with Grandma (where she made real cookies!).
“But it’s important! I need someone to be the bad guy in my story so I can win the talent show!”
Now Diggy understood her urgency. Yellowhoppe Elementary hosted a talent show every year where only top-notch students were allowed on stage to showcase talents worthy of spending a Saturday at school. Parents and guardians of participating students were invited, and the cafeteria ladies always dressed up in black dresses and served spaghetti dinners to the audience. There was even a dress code and paper invitations mailed to parents. It was the Elementary school at its finest and clearly the most important event in town.
Last year, the first prize award was recess all day. Sadly though, the winner, Ricky Williams, was sick the day the principal scheduled it. Though, as Addie mentioned this year’s prize, Diggy had to admit it was truly irresistible.
“Yep! And it has a bell, and the breaks on the handles, so you can peddle backward without stopping!”
This, they both agreed, was a very important feature. Though, quick accounting alerted Diggy to a slight problem, “but there’s two of us?”
“We can take turns! Plus, there’s a basket, so you can ride in it while I peddle, and then I can ride in it while you peddle.”
Diggy made sure to think this through carefully, but quickly decided it could work.
Addie’s mom called for her as she made her way out of the shoe store two doors down. The children quickly agreed to meet the next day at Addie’s house to practice their award-winning act, and Diggy let her take a slice of his pepperoni pizza before running off to her insistent mother. Diggy went the other way, speeding up his normal pace, as Addie’s mom was known for questions such as where did that pizza come from?
A couple of blocks down, Diggy stopped dead in his tracks beside the narrow alleyway between the bakery and the bookstore. He thought he had heard something. There was a large green dumpster like the ones he used to be dropped into against the wall of the bakery, and a few metal trashcans against the wall of the bookstore on the other side. Besides this, nothing.
Or so he thought until he heard the strange noise again. Diggy carefully set down his pizza onto the lid of one trash can, before lifting the lid to the other. There was a splintered wooden stem from what looked to have once belonged to a plunger close by. Armed with a sword and shield, Diggy began to search around him. A part of him wished Addie was still around so that he would have a princess to protect from the dragon, but he already knew she would insist on being a knight and that the dragon was actually friendly.
“Then, we would have to walk it and feed it, and I would be made to pick up the poop!” Again, the strange noise interrupted his thoughts. This time, Diggy saw a flattened box beside the dumpster move ever so slightly.
Diggy inched his way over to the box with his shield raised and a stance he was sure he had seen from a karate movie, but that looked more like someone trying to squat over a hole in the ground due to a lack of indoor plumbing.
He used his mighty sword to lift the box away. There was no dragon, only a small puppy tangled in discarded, rainbow-colored yarn. She had light tan fur with ears and paws too big for the rest of her body. Her little frame trembled in fear as she looked up at the strange pizza-smelling kid and yelped again.
Diggy lowered his shield. Well, this was unexpected. He thought for sure he would at least get to fight off a rabid raccoon. The little puppy yelped again, and he put down his sword and shield. He sat down and picked up the colorful mess and slowly worked out the tangles on his lap until only the small puppy remained.
By the time he was done, she decided she liked this kid who smelled like pizza and licked his hands. Diggy made sure to pet her carefully, as she was so small. He quickly decided he would keep her, and he already knew the perfect name to commemorate their meeting: Rainbow.
He didn’t have a leash, and he needed to carry his pizza. After petting her a few more times, Diggy decided to sacrifice a slice of his pizza so that she would stay put while he looked around in the trashcans and dumpster. There were apartments on top of most of the shops, and so one never knew what they might find in the trash.
Soon, he found a t-shirt to wrap the puppy in (she seemed quite cold with all that shaking) and a pair of black slacks. He carefully tied the ends of the pant legs and hung the sling on his shoulder and across his chest. With the pizza box now tucked under his left arm, he was able to keep one hand on Rainbow as she rode in as much comfort as a slacks-sling could provide.
Diggy decided he needed to get to Grandma’s house a little faster now. He was always thirsty when he ate, so he was sure he needed to get Rainbow some water. Luckily, Grandpa’s old garage would provide just that.
Grandma was out of the habit of using it since Grandpa’s projects had taken up all of the potential car space. Even after his death, she rarely entered. Now, it was Diggy’s domain, full of hidden treasures he would find in trashcans or on his route to and from the park. On his way into the garage, Diggy noticed that Addie had been by and left a few pages of her notebook tucked under the garage door. Clearly, she wanted him to practice a little before they rehearsed. The talent show was going to be a tough gig after all.
Diggy placed Rainbow onto a soft pile of clothing among the boxes in the garage. He pulled an old coat over the top, creating a small, warm cave. He then lifted her head to help her lap water from a hubcap.
Rainbow couldn’t remember much, for she didn’t have much to remember. She had siblings once, but she had ventured a little too far and couldn’t find her way back. Things came to her in sudden waves. One moment, she was born, the next, she knew how to yelp and wiggle. In another moment, her eyes suddenly opened, and her dark brown irises took in everything around her, not knowing, but somehow understanding what they saw.
Soon, she could smell and understood these scents. Soon, she could hear her siblings making noises, and she understood these sounds. Soon, she walked and understood the motion. Her instincts were so good, that she even knew she was in trouble the moment she could no longer move, having tangled herself in thread for the first time in her short life.
The answer her instincts did not give her, was what to make of the pizza kid. He wasn’t like her, but he did save her from certain doom. He wasn’t like her mother, but he did give her food. He wasn’t like the rat she encountered by the dumpster. He smelled much nicer. She was already falling asleep by the time he brought her to this strange, but cozy place. In her half-asleep state, she lapped up the water and ate more pizza, making her all the more tired.
The kid held up papers by his face, repeating the same sounds over and over. As she drifted to sleep wondering about their meaning, she decided, she loved this strange boy.
By the time Diggy was satisfied with his new, villainous role as a master thief running from the great detective (played by Addie, of course), he looked over to Rainbow. She was now sound asleep. He still hadn’t figured out what to tell Grandma, because, well, she wasn’t the biggest fan of dogs, or cats, or anything that could cause as much of a mess as Diggy. The last time he had asked for a pet, she said he could have a goldfish. What was he supposed to do with a goldfish? Stare at it?
Diggy’s cunning plan to elaborate the rescue with a wild raccoon, or an evil man with a machete, was cut short with the sound of Grandma’s car pulling into the driveway. He would come up with a convincing back story later. For now, he would pretend Rainbow wasn’t there. He patted her head gently. She stirred a little as she pushed her head closer to his hand but didn’t wake. Diggy took this as a good sign that she would be quiet for him and left the garage.
Grandma was a very tall woman. As Diggy was told, she was even taller long ago, but he found this hard to imagine. She had always been taller than Grandpa, and he was pretty big himself.
Grandma wore a lot of dresses in a lot of colors, but only one color at a time. Her white hair was always curled, and her lips were always painted the same shade of light pink. Though she looked like other grandmothers, Diggy knew he had the best in the bunch, because only his Grandma was known for letting him eat cookies regularly and allowing him to explore the town (so long as he went only from the park to the house). He ran up to her as she filled her arms with groceries. Before he could say anything, she looked down at him and drew her thin lips into an even thinner line.
“What did I say about playing in your new shoes?”
Diggy scraped his shoe against the asphalt, leaving behind a jagged streak of mud, “but I fell!”
“Into what? A pig pen?”
“I was just walking to Wallins’ toy shoppe, and then I tripped! And then I was muddy anyway, so…”
Diggy made sure to give her an award-winning smile, but it showed to be ineffective as she shook her head. She told him what she always did, and whatever it was went as it always did: from one ear through to the other, eventually disappearing into the void all parental instructions found themselves in. Diggy was getting really good at that lately. His recent time spent holding up the corner of the house showed it.
However, his ears perked up as Grandma asked him about what he wanted for dinner.
“You don’t need to make dinner. I brought some home!”
Diggy basked in the glory of her smile, sure that his good karma was about to erase the mistakes of his bad. However, he was still oblivious to the forced half-grins adults learn to manifest when dealing with difficult entities from day-to-day life. Diggy, unknowingly, was the main cause of these.
As Grandma was sure a flowerpot full of mud sitting on her kitchen counter was in her future, she decided to tell Diggy to keep his dinner in the garage in case he wanted to use it as a snack tomorrow. Diggy thought about this and remembered the once beer cooler turned popsicle den. Okay, he could snack on it tomorrow.
The moment his eyes popped open, Diggy jumped out of bed and ran to the garage with his pjs still on. Rainbow raised her head and tilted it just a few degrees to the right at the sight of his green silhouetted dinosaurs. It was early and Grandma wasn’t awake yet, but he was hungry, so he knew his puppy would be too.
Diggy opened the fridge, grabbed his pizza box, and sat down next to Rainbow. With every bite he took, he tore off a piece for her. After they finished a slice together, Diggy decided he would eat one more, but gave the crust to Rainbow. He looked down at the box. There were just two slices left. Then, he smelled something terrible.
The puppy cowered at his suddenly loud voice and Diggy felt terrible for it. Everything needs to poop. Rainbow couldn’t help it. Being a dog owner was going to be hard with always needing to feed, water, and take his new pet outside, but at least it was better than staring at a goldfish. Diggy scooped up little Rainbow and headed out.
She moved…oddly. That is to say, she dragged herself by only her front two legs, sniffing around the grass and occasionally tasting it. As Diggy wondered why, he thought, “well, I walk on just my two legs. Maybe she’s trying to copy me because she’s just a puppy?”
Yeah, that was it. It was just another thing he would need to train her to do. Determined to be a good dog parent and a master trainer, Diggy bent down and paraded around her on his knees and hands, guiding her through the process of how to move like a grown-up dog. Rainbow watched him closely. However, when it was her time to try, she still only dragged herself with just her two front paws.
Diggy stood back up like a normal human boy and put his hands on his hips just as Grandpa used to do. This was going to be more work than he thought. Nonetheless, training would need to cease for the time being as he could hear Grandma calling for him from the kitchen. Diggy carefully picked Rainbow back up, and from the pressure of his hands against her belly, Rainbow peed the entire way back to the garage. He used some old shop towels to make a second bed. Her old bed smelled, so he threw it away in the garbage can.
“Now, where were you?”
Clearly, today would be a little rough with Grandma already cranky. He told her he had been playing outside, and she again told him something that again went wordlessly through him and into the void. Due to his snacking earlier, Diggy ate just enough of his eggs to satisfy Grandma before running upstairs to change into something, “proper.”
Today, was Sunday.
What did Sunday mean you might ask? It meant babies. Way too many babies. In fact, so many babies that it always led Diggy to wonder why adults liked babies in the first place. Between constant snot surprises that were rubbed onto everything under three feet tall and wailing that probably signaled the sinking of the Titanic, Diggy had come to the conclusion that these things were the demons the preacher had warned him about.
However, at the end of the day, it was between the demons and the pews of the church, so, Hell won in this scenario. Just about anything was better than constantly getting pinched for the self-defense mechanism of falling asleep during boring sermons.
After Grandma dropped him off in the daycare center, Diggy quickly made his way to the alliance of older kids who also didn’t want to get pinched all Sunday morning. Most of the toys housed in the small room were for the babies, but there was a large bin filled with miscellaneous Legos donated by various members of the church. The older kids were able to hog these toys as the daycare teachers seemed to understand they needed time away from the smaller ones and kept the babies at bay.
After the first few weeks, the teachers had given up trying to corral the children into sitting still for storytime with fascinatingly boring bible characters. There were simply too many kids and not enough hands. Instead, they would gather the kids ten minutes before church let out and start then, lasting just long enough for the parents to see the attempt before picking up their respective child.
Diggy, like the other kids, was oblivious to this procedure and assumed they were grouped so the parents would have an easier time finding their kids. It reminded him of the way the grocery store would put lobsters in the large tank in the back so that you wouldn’t need to go looking in the whole ocean for them.
His mind wasn’t on lobsters at the moment, though. It wasn’t even on the war between the block castles he was orchestrating. No, his mind was on his puppy. He still needed to tell Grandma, but perhaps if he finished training Rainbow first, then Grandma couldn’t say no to keeping the dog?
A few wars and too many crying babies later, the children were wrangled into a semi-circle by the door, waiting for the adults. When he saw Grandma, he was surprised to see such a big smile on her face, as well as her holding onto Addie’s hand. Addie never fell asleep during the sermons. Her mom let her write stories in her notebook.
“Addie told me she convinced you to be in a play with her?”
The three walked towards Grandma’s powdered blue car. As Diggy soon learned, Addie had found his Grandma after the service was over and told her all about their plans for the bike. Grandma and Addie’s mom agreed that they could practice over at Grandma’s house, as there would be guests at Addie’s. Diggy was surprised Grandma was so happy about this change from her normal Sunday routine, but then again, he had never entered the talent show before. She must’ve wanted the spaghetti.
After Diggy and Addie ate a hearty lunch of dino nuggets and mac and cheese, Diggy led Addie to the garage. Diggy pulled out a couple of chicken nuggets he had carefully concealed in his pockets while Grandma’s back was turned and ordered Addie to grab one of the water bottles in the popsicle/pizza den. Then, he introduced her to Rainbow.
“She’s so small!”
Addie held out the hubcap/dog bowl with fresh water. The puppy carefully studied this new kid, but soon her sense of smell informed her that this one was okay too, and eagerly lapped up the water.
“Well, yeah. She’s a puppy!”
Addie ignored this insult to her intelligence as a stunning new idea popped up. Rainbow, without a doubt, had to be included in their performance.
Her skit was about a cop and robber, so Rainbow would need to be her K-9. Diggy thought about this as he ripped up the chicken nuggets and watched Rainbow eat happily. He decided this was a good idea. She liked to chase him already and he was sure by the time the talent show took place, he would have a convincing enough reason as to why he should keep her.
Addie changed her script so that after she called out, “Stop there, criminal! Those don’t belong to you!” she would release her K-9, and Diggy would scream out terrified as the dog attacked him. This made their play about the diamond thief a little shorter than they had planned, but Addie assured him she would give a speech like the ones the high schoolers gave after their performances at the elementary school.
Diggy never remembered lessons at the end of the fairy tales Grandpa told him, but the high schoolers must’ve read different books. Addie re-wrote the play in her little notebook as Diggy made yet another bed. He never expected puppies to pee and poop so much. Once they were both done, Diggy scooped up Rainbow, and the children headed outside.
Addie soon became strangely quiet. Normally she talked a lot. Sometimes more than what Diggy would’ve liked, but now, she was just quiet and watching Rainbow make her way through the lawn.
“Diggy…Why does she walk like that?”
He didn’t really know how to answer her question. Diggy watched as Rainbow continued to refuse to use her back two legs. Didn’t she want to run? If Diggy moved faster, she would move faster to keep up with him, but she wouldn’t run. Diggy squatted and tried to set up her legs, but they only laid back down. Rainbow looked up at him with a smile and let her tongue hang out. With a look of silent agreement, the two children decided to let Rainbow be and went to work on the pressing matters of the play.
Addie and Diggy continued to practice until they became quite bored of it and went back to the matter of Rainbow’s refusal to walk. They both sat down in a patch of clovers and Rainbow sat in Diggy’s lap.
“Maybe you need to train her?” Addie suggested. “Sami had to hold Momma’s hand before she could walk.”
That was true. Diggy remembered watching Addie’s little sister struggle to even stand up without a helping hand. Though, it didn’t seem to make sense for Rainbow. Rainbow was a dog, not a baby. Then again, he had never seen how a puppy was trained to walk.
While carefully bending over to hold up the dog’s backside, Diggy followed Rainbow everywhere she went in the vast backyard. When Diggy grew tired, Addie took a turn. However, the moment they let go of Rainbow’s back, it only dropped again. Rainbow had clearly enjoyed the game, but she wasn’t learning from it. The two sat in thought again as Rainbow yelped at a ladybug close by.
“Do you think your Grandma will hear?” Addie whispered, but Diggy shook his head.
His Grandma couldn’t hear anything unless you were in the room with her. Although, Diggy was just as bad when he was preoccupied. The two sat in silence as they watched the curious puppy, who was now dragging herself across the grass and towards a butterfly fluttering aimlessly among the mums.
“Do you think she’s sick?”
Diggy hadn’t thought of this. He had learned that there were many kinds of being sick from his yearly colds, to the lady in the picture, to the sickness his Grandpa fought until the day he died. None of these sicknesses had anything to do with not knowing how to walk. Grandpa could still walk. He was just always tired. But maybe, this was a sickness he didn’t know about. The children went back to trying to train Rainbow, but Diggy didn’t quite feel so hopeful anymore.
Addie stayed for dinner, as her mother’s guests were still visiting. Normally they couldn’t go outside after dinner, but since they asked to stray only to the garage, Grandma relented and even let them take their ice-cream sandwiches with them.
Diggy decided ice-cream wasn’t for dogs and instead gave Rainbow more pizza. Now, there was only one slice left. The children spent the rest of their time devising ways to sneak food from their kitchens. Addie even promised to sneak her old baby blanket to make sure Rainbow stayed warm when winter rolled around. Diggy began to wonder if he even needed to tell Grandma about Rainbow. Clearly, he and Addie would be good parents, and the idea of keeping her a secret made it all the more fun!
Addie kissed the puppy’s head as Grandma announced her mother’s arrival. Diggy tucked Rainbow into more towels before heading to his room and changing back into his dino-pjs.
That night, Diggy had a dream about Grandpa. It was a dream of a memory, though, by the time he woke up, he couldn’t quite remember everything he saw. But he knew he needed to pee. Once he was fully awake, he also realized that he could hear Rainbow all the way from upstairs. Diggy shot out of bed and ran down half the stairs before stopping, turning around, and running back up to the bathroom at the top. After he no longer needed to pee, he ran back down the stairs and into the garage.
As soon as he opened the door, Rainbow stopped crying and quickly perked up in a much better temper. Diggy walked over and picked her up. Once again, she had pooped in her bed. Now Diggy understood. He had almost peed in his and the thought of waking up like that was just gross.
He was too tired though to make her another bed, or to remember that Grandma still didn’t know she existed, and so he carried the puppy up to his room. Diggy took one of the pillows from his bed and set it on the ground, then placed Rainbow on top before crawling back under his blankets. Just as he curled himself back up, he heard little shuffling below him followed by quiet whimpering. Diggy leaned over the side of his bed and looked down at excited brown eyes looking back at him. Rainbow wanted to sleep with the pizza kid but couldn’t make her way onto the bed. Diggy swung his legs over the side and bent to pick his puppy up.
She curled up happily on his lap as he gently patted her head.
Diggy sat like this for quite a while. In fact, much longer than he would normally sit still, even if he were told to. His chest started to hurt, and his throat felt scratchy. Diggy decided, he loved his new pet, very much. Soon, he started to sniffle, then tears filled his eyes as his chest abruptly rose and fell. He clutched Rainbow closely to his chest and made his way towards Grandma’s room.
It took a while, but when Grandma answered the door in her royal blue robe and looked down at Diggy and Rainbow, Diggy told her everything from the pizza heist to Rainbow unable to jump onto his bed, in the one-breath kind of way only kids know how to do. Even when Diggy thought she would get mad, she just listened until he was done.
Wordlessly, she led him to the bathroom. Grandma sat him on the edge of the tub and wetted a washcloth for his eyes. Then, she took the now wide-awake Rainbow into her arms and gently moved her hindlegs back and forth. Rainbow only looked up at her with a grin.
“It’s okay, sweetie. She’s not sick. She’s just fine.”
“But she doesn’t walk right, and she can’t jump and-” Diggy started to hiccup as he tried to catch his breath.
“No dear. She’s not sick, she’s disabled, that’s all.” Grandma placed Rainbow on the bathroom rug as she pulled Diggy into a hug.
As he started to calm down, he asked, “does that mean Rainbow’s okay?”
“Yes, Rainbow will be just fine. We can worry about making her a scooter in the morning, but for now, both of you need some sleep.”
Diggy asked if she was sure and Grandma promised. Grandma then scolded him for stealing and warned him that having a puppy would be a lot of work, and for once, Diggy listened to every bit of it. Once he had finished calming down, Grandma led him back to his room and tucked both Diggy and Rainbow under the covers.
Rainbow curled up just under his nose and Diggy drifted off with thoughts of using the wooden car parts Grandpa used to make so that he could help Rainbow run. Rainbow wasn’t sick and wouldn’t be leaving him anytime soon. No, she was going to help him, and Addie win the talent show, and they were going to ride around with Rainbow in the basket of their new bike. Diggy wasn’t sure what he did to deserve it, but clearly, he had the best karma he could ever dream of.
Dawn Ray is a Pagan artist and writer local to Virginia. She primarily writes fiction novels but enjoys working on smaller projects from time to time. She also greatly enjoys poetry and non-fiction work.