Appalachian Thursday – The Dog That Didn’t Make the Book
I recently turned in the latest round of edits on my third novel–A Tapestry of Secrets–due out in August 2016. The book has gone through several drafts, one of which included a stray dog. In the end, he didn’t fit the story, so he got cut. But I kind of miss that sweet little dog so I thought I’d give you a peek behind the curtain at a scene that MIGHT have happened to my heroine, Ella Phillips when she was feeling low and trying to sort out her life.
Ella scuffed her feet through wet leaves. She almost wished for a can to kick. She’d been walking and thinking for nearly an hour and had yet to come to a resolution. She paused to look around. Of course. She’d been walking downhill all this time and now she was going to have a hike to get back home. Tugging the hood of her raincoat forward, she tried to tuck her hair back inside. Wet wisps curled around her temples and stuck to her cheeks. She’d always loved walking in the rain, but she really hadn’t planned to walk this far.
As Ella turned to head back up the hill, the rain picked up. What had been a gentle drizzle, was now steady drumming on her hood. Glancing at the sky, Ella suspected it would rain harder, yet. She walked a little faster. She was grateful she hadn’t crossed over Little Fork. The creek she had often crossed by hopping from rock to rock was running fast and muddy. It had risen high enough to wash down grasses and weeds growing on either side, creating a sort of slurry of rushing water at the bank. She’d always enjoy the soft music of the creek, but now it was approaching a bass roar. Or maybe that was the rain coming down harder.
And then she heard another, higher note over the rain and the water. It sounded like a coyote yip or maybe a child’s cry of frustration. The sound both frightened and drew Ella. She had an almost insurmountable urge to run from the sound, but she also wanted to know what it was. Fearing someone, or something, might be in danger, Ella stayed where she was, straining to see through the rain. She looked upstream and saw . . . something . . . thrash in the water. She took a step back. What if it was a wild animal? It would be horrible not to help it, but probably dangerous to try. She squinted. Yes. An animal. It could be coyote or a raccoon—coons got pretty big. Surely not some sort of cat.
At that moment, the animal turned its head and although it was still a little ways upstream Ella could swear it looked her in the eye. She saw fear and knew she had to try and save it. She gauged how fast the little body was sliding toward her. She took a breath and stepped out in faith.
Ella clutched the shivering body to her and exhaled. Had she been holding her breath all this time? It felt like ages, but had probably been seconds. The dog licked her face and seemed content to stay in her arms where she sat in the mud and muck at the edge of Little Fork. Ella looked at the creek and then at her feet and legs. Had she walked on water to pull this little guy out? Or had she just waded in and out so quickly the creek didn’t have time to hold her?
Shaking almost as much as the dog, Ella tried to remember what had happened. She’d estimated that if she lunged forward she could reach the dog—she was glad that’s what it was—in about two steps and then she planned to just throw herself back toward shore. It had been easier than she expected. She didn’t have any sense that the water had pulled at her, but maybe it had just been a quieter spot. Or maybe . . . The dog licked her chin again and Ella looked down at him.
“Let’s get you home,” she said.
She carried the dog for a while, but he got heavy and she had to put him down. As soon as she did, he took several steps in the direction she’d been heading and looked back at her as if to ask, “Aren’t you coming?” Ella fell into step with the little dog and he stayed with her all the way home.