When Max finally opened his eyes the first thing he saw was the cracked yellow lines that were painted on the road where his head was resting. He blinked, testing his eyelids, then he ran his tongue over his lips, testing them too, only it didn’t work as well as the blinking and just caused him to hurt. He couldn’t tell whether the pain was in his tongue or his lips or both. Judging by the rest of him, it was probably both.
His ears were almost working. He could hear people around him and they seemed to be shouting, but the words were blurry and he couldn’t quite make them out. They were loud though. They hurt his head. He thought they were even hurting his eyelashes, and it amused him for a while, wondering how that could be, until he realised he could also hear traffic and remembered (by looking down at the yellow lines) that he was in the road. Which is also where the traffic was.
Panicked, he tried to jerk away, roll onto the pavement, or sit or stand or just move, but he couldn’t do it. What the hell had happened to him? Had he been in an accident, been knocked down trying to cross the street? It seemed likely. Lying in the road, every spare – and usable – millimetre of him aching, burning or downright screaming with pain, people around him shouting… But wasn’t he chasing someone? Something, maybe… He couldn’t remember and it didn’t seem important now.
Someone knelt down by his head. They reached out to him, and Max thought for a moment that they were going to touch him, accidentally hurt him, and his wished he could tell them no, but they stroked his head instead, and that didn’t hurt. Or at least it didn’t hurt much because the comfort drowned it out. He tried a smile, half managed it. The person stroking him noticed and smiled back. “You’ll be okay, Max,” she said, and Max realised it was the girl he lived with. “You’ll be fine. They’re coming to help you.” She paused, sniffed, tried to regroup but instead came out with, “Don’t die, Max, please! I love you, please don’t die!”
Max sighed deeply, even though it hurt. If it was the last thing he did he’d let the girl know he loved her too. He licked her hand despite the pain, and wagged his tail one last time.
©Lisamarie Lamb 2011