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My Favorite Sweater

Try not to focus on the things that do not matter, you may overlook those that do.

The bit about how I came to adopt Lucy is based on true events. Please, if you have the means, visit your local shelter.

I didn’t even see the nail. It may have been a screw. It didn’t really matter what it was, all that mattered, at the time, was that it snagged my sweater.

Actually, now that I think back on it, it was a nail and it was rusty. Clumsily fastened to a tree by someone probably advertising a tag sale or maybe offering guitar lessons. Either way, as I passed by, the mindless head of this nail perfectly latched onto a wayward thread and somehow wrapped around it tightly. I tried to pull it loose but the harder I tried, the more it unraveled the fabric.

So there I was, sitting on a bench with a hole in my favorite sweater, holding a few remnants of thread I was able to wrestle away from the rusty nail. I felt defeated. I wanted to cry. I didn’t even like coming to this park. But Lucy, my half whippet, half labrador retriever loved the open field where she could stretch her legs.

I rescued her as a puppy. She was just about six weeks old when I found her laying under a trailer. The mother had abandoned her. I suppose it was part of the weaning process. Seemed vicious and cruel but that’s nature, survival of the fittest and all. I looked everywhere for the owner of the bitch and after I exhausted my search I decided to name the pup, Lucy.

Now, a year later, she was bounding playfully, chasing her ball in the open field, happy and completely oblivious to my plight.

“I can fix that you know.” The voice came from my left.

“Are you some sort of seamstress?” I quipped rather caustically.

“Well, I wouldn’t put a label on it, but I have been known to darn a hole here and there,” she said.

“This isn’t just any sweater,” I replied to the stranger.

“Oh, I would imagine it is very special.”

“Very special indeed,” I snapped.  “And, you cannot just get it anywhere. This sweater would be impossible to replace.”

“It seems you are in a bit of a bind then.”

I looked down sadly at the yarn in my hand and ran a finger over the hole which seemed to have gotten wider since I sat down.

“I’ll tell you what hun,” she continued. “Give me your sweater and I will leave you with my very expensive jacket. I will return to this bench in one weeks time with your sweater, good as new. If you like what I have done you will pay me my fee and if you do not like the repair, you can keep my jacket.”

It was a very enticing offer, one I mulled over as I watched Lucy chase after a much smaller dog who had stolen her ball.

“Alright then, you have a deal,” I said rapidly, and promptly handed her my sweater before I had time to change my mind.

For the entire week, I felt empty, as if a piece of me was missing. Lucy seemingly sensed my anguish and for her part, continually offered me her most prized chew toys. It was a noble gesture, but one riddled with selfish intent - an attempt to get me to play with her, no doubt. She had to have known my mind was consumed with the thoughts of my sweater.

Nonetheless, time passed and soon it was one week since I had handed my precious sweater to a perfect stranger in the park.

I grabbed the jacket I had been given as collateral and harnessed Lucy; always a chore since she morphs into a whirlwind of paws and fur when she knows it is time for the park. Harness finally secured, we bounded out the door and raced speedily to the agreed upon meeting spot.

I vigilantly made my way, watching for evil rusty nails along the path and soon reached the bench, unscathed mind you, where the exchange had occurred.

My nerves buzzed like a hornet's nest that had been pelted with a rock from some reckless child who had been given a new wrist rocket by an absent-minded uncle.

‘Where was she?’ I pondered anxiously. ‘Had she fallen so in love with my sweater that the sacrifice of her expensive jacket was worth the trade?’

I scowled at the jacket. ‘Stupid jacket. I hate this jacket. I shouldn’t have agreed to trust that woman. Now, I will live a life of misery, haplessly throwing chew toys for Lucy for the remainder of my meaningless life.’

Curiosity forced its way into my anxiety and I began calculating how many years I might have left. ‘Let’s see, the average life expectancy for a woman is…’ It occurred to me I didn’t have a clue how long a woman is expected to live. I googled it.

Many different sources popped up, all vying for my attention to use their number in my calculations. I searched for one that factored into their data the loss of a sweater. There were none. ‘Fine, I will just take the first one I see, there...seventy-one.’

‘Seventy-one years’, I sighed. And, that is if I pass at the expected rate. I had lived a very healthy lifestyle. I exercised regularly, I didn’t smoke and only drank on occasion. Okay, that last bit was a stretch. Let’s say I only drank to excess on occasion. Still, this meant an abysmal number of years spent mourning the loss of my sweater.

Lucy scurried to my feet and plopped down her toy. Joy plastered all across her panting, tongue-dangling smile. I picked up the slobbery fake bone and heaved as far as I could. She tore off after, attracting a flurry of dogs who gave chase.

“Nice throw.” A male seated on the next bench called out.

“Thanks. I don’t normally throw that far. Guess I am just worked up.” I replied.

“What’s got ya goin’?”

“Well,” my head sagged a bit, “I gave my favorite sweater to a woman I met here last week. She said she could mend it. We were supposed to meet back here. I now fear she may not show.”

“Blonde woman? About yay-tall? Friendly face?” he asked.

I looked at him wide-eyed. “Yes, yes that‘s her. You know her? Where is she? Where is my sweater?” I was frantic.

“Easy. I’m sorry, I do not know her.” He was holding out both hands as if motioning me to back up. “She took my bike last month.”

“She took your bike?” I repeated, inquisitively.

“She did indeed,” he replied. “Gave me this watch as collateral. Told me it was expensive. When she didn’t show, I had it appraised.” He held out his wrist. His smile washed from his lips. “It’s a damn fake.”

My heart sank. My fate sealed. My sweater, forever gone.

I ripped off the jacket that vicious woman had given me and rushed to sit next to him on his bench.

“Tell me, sir, your bike, was it expensive?”

“One of a kind,” he replied.

“One of a kind,” I muttered under my breath. Once again I fought back the tears and gazed blankly ahead. Lucy and another dog of equal size were on either side of her fake bone, gleefully locked in a game of tug-a-war.

“The chain had gotten tangled in the gear sprocket.” His voice was low and somber, head down, like he was delivering a eulogy. “She happened by and said she was an expert at bike repair. In my desperation to have it fixed, I agreed to let her take it. She entrusted me with this watch as a guarantee she would return.”

I too lowered my head and joined him to mourn the loss. I offered my condolences. “I suppose we will just have to find a way to move on,” I said.

“Surely, you can find a replacement for your sweater?” he asked, turning his head to face me.

“Sir, have you been able to find a suitable replacement for your bike?” I said rather sharply, narrowing my eyes as I looked directly into his.

“Sadly, no.”  

“Well then, I guess you understand my hardship.”

He nodded.

I embraced that strange man right there on the park bench, then stood and called for Lucy so we could be on our way. She bounded over, tail wagging, chew toy safely secured in her jowls. I clipped on her leash and rubbed her vigorously between the ears.

“You are always so happy, aren’t you girl?”

 

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Copyright © Thought of and written by me. Do not copy or re-post without my permission.

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