Dog Tags in the Dark

November 15th, 2017

Shocky was restless.

Shocky is Hannah’s dog. She’s a border collie, and generally adorable. Shocky sleeps in the bedroom with Karin and me. As I was lying on the bed in the dark, I heard the dog jingling the ID tags on her collar. She does that when she is thirsty or when she needs to go outside. It is pointless to ignore Shocky when she does that. Her next step is to whine pathetically, and she won’t stop until her needs are met.

I got up and stumbled toward the digital clock on my dresser. The time showed as 3:30 AM. I threw on some clothes and took Shocky to the bedroom door. Through the door I thought I heard music coming from Hannah’s old room. I opened the door and saw a light at the bottom of her bedroom door.

I thought to myself, “Is she even here? Why?” Somehow, I felt relieved that she was in the house.

Then I got angry. “She’s going to wake up Stefan! He needs to work in the morning!”

I moved toward our daughter’s bedroom. I heard a voice from behind me saying,

“Frank! Frank!”


I felt Karin’s hand on my shoulder. She was gently shaking me.

She said softly, “It’s okay…it’s okay, Frank.”

I pulled my head off of the pillow, and rolled on to my back. Karin moved over to her side of the bed. She settled down to sleep again. She is used to dealing with years of me having nightmares. I was lying on my back, my heart racing and my breath ragged.

Karin’s breathing found a peaceful rhythm. I stared at the skylight and let the contents of my dream ebb away. I was slipping back into sleep.

Shocky was restless.

I heard her shaking her tags. I got out of bed. I stumbled over to the dresser and looked at the clock. Now it said 3:32 AM. I threw on some clothes and went to the bedroom door.

I opened the door, and I involuntarily looked down the hall toward Hannah’s old room. It was dark and empty and silent. I sighed.

I took Shocky outside. I didn’t sleep after that.




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