charlie

Charlie was the best kind of dog the Throng kids could ever imagine; exceptionally tolerant, a gentler, kinder version most the people they'd known in their short lifetimes. It seemed initially he came to their family to instigate fighting; the kids fought first over his affections, claiming he loved one more than the other. Next they fought over which bed Charlie would sleep in at night. Somehow Charlie knew. Never one to choose sides,  Charlie would wag his tail, bound about, give kisses to everyone. At night, he'd sleep half the night in one bed, and then switch to the other. When someone was sick, he stayed there, lightly thumping his tail, oftentimes poor Charlie nearly head locked as the kids pulled him close. 

When Charlie became sick years later and suddenly and died, he fought valiantly, and then took his last breath peacefully at home; teaching the Throng family one last lesson about unconditional love; passing with a final thump of his thankful tail.

The family carried him to their back yard and buried him beneath an old oak tree the kids in their younger years frequently climbed; Charlie circling the trunk, nervously crying, waiting for them to come down. The tree was visible from the big picture window that covered the majority of the back side of their home, and as the kids dug a shallow grave, one of them lamented, they'd still always be able to see Charlie.

In retrospect, no one is sure where the idea came from, but grief can do funny things to a person, there is no disputing that. When the Throng's buried Charlie that day, they decided it'd be comforting to leave a tiny bit of his tail unearthed, so they'd always be able to find him, and he'd always be able to feel the breeze. 

When the Throng kids missed him, they'd sit beneath that big oak tree and run that bit of his tail through their fingers. One day a few weeks later Mrs. Throng was appalled to find her children, running around the back yard, carrying a dead Charlie in their arms. Charlie wanted to play, they told her, and so they'd took him on a journey, around the yard. She let the whole thing go; one of those odd moments parenting when she was so unsure of the options, she did nothing instead.

The frequency of Charlie's "unearthings" escalated though, and when the adult Throngs came to the conclusion that the children's grieving was headed the wrong direction, they dug a new hole, out in the meadow behind their home. They buried Charlie for good there.

When they finished Charlie's final burial, Mrs. Throng noted that this time, they'd also given Charlie back his tail so he could rest in peace.  The littlest Throng lamented, "Well, I guess all this time Charlie just needed his tail in heaven, now it's time for Charlie to go."

The spent a moment together there in silence, looking at the fresh mound of dirt, Charlie's final resting spot. They ran back to their yard, climbed high up in their oak tree, and watched a bird, taking flight.

*This is a revised version of a story told to my my one of my dearest friends. it changed some things. After not finding the true version online via a hapless google search, i've rewrote it  for my own use.