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Since Derek took Bowie home with him, Emily is down to three dogs, which is good because one of them is still having problems adjusting. She spooks easily and tends to be clingy. This particular night, for whatever reason, Friday can’t settle down. It’s nearly midnight when Emily gives in and rolls out of bed, pulling on a pair of jeans, sweatshirt and boots. She clips a leash to Friday’s collar and slips out the backdoor. Sure, she could simply turn Friday loose in the yard, but that would be more likely to wind her up than relax her. It’s not the mood that Emily is going for.

One of her favorite things about this house is the way it sets near the woods. It happens to be one of the dog’s favorite things as well. She heads toward the woods now, dog leash in hand. Her other hand is tucked into the pocket of her jacket. In all honesty, she’s not paying a lot of attention to everything around her. These woods are safe and quiet. The night is still; the moon is full. It’s a beautiful night and Emily isn’t terribly upset about Friday pulling her away from the house.

Unfortunately, this walk seems to be making Friday more restless. She paces and whines, goes to the end of her leash and comes back repeatedly. Emily comes to a halt, trying to soothe the dog by rubbing her ears and talking to her in a low voice. She’s completely baffled about what is triggering the dog’s behavior; an incoming storm would be her first guess, but the sky is clear. She’s about to head back and try something else when the dog becomes frantic. She jerks at the leash, whines loudly and turns herself in circles, trying to get away from not only Emily, but the woods. Emily is actually having a hard time holding onto the dog she’s so frantic to get away. She pulls Emily a couple of steps.

“Friday! Slow down. We don’t pull,” she commands, tugging back on the leash. The dog only pauses a moment before diving back into panic.

It all happens in a blur. Emily doesn’t see the wild animal rushing from the trees until it’s there. Friday jerks away from her, attacking the animal in a blur of pale golden fur and Emily is screaming at her, trying to grab the leash, the dog’s tail, anything to pull her back away from the animal. She wears a scream of pain from the dog then it bolts off into the woods. She starts to head in the direction the dog went without getting a good look at the animal. It’s some kind of wolf...she thinks, but not any kind of wolf she’s ever seen. The animal is growling at her and Emily is looking down at the ground, backing away and trying not to challenge this creature in any way. What she really wants to do is run as fast as possible, but she also knows that will only make the wolf chase her. The wolf lunges at her and she can’t help the scream or the way she trips and falls over tree roots, debris and everything else the forest floor is littered with. Her hands go over her head and she’s trying to pull herself into a ball, but the wolf grabs onto her leg She fumbles for her keys, finally pulling them out of her pocket. She’s got a canister of pepper spray on the ring. She aims it at the wolf’s face and sprays. That gets the wolf to let go and it runs off into the woods.

For a moment, Emily does nothing but leans back against a tree and try to catch her breath. The leg of her jeans is torn and wet with blood. It’s impossible to tell how bad the wound is with all the blood, but she knows it hurts and she needs to get back to the house. Unfortunately, Friday has disappeared; Emily is torn about whether she ought to go back to her house and tend to her wounds or search for Friday. In the end, she heads back to the house. She doesn’t want to get an infection and there’s a good chance that Friday will go back to the house anyway. She calls for the dog a couple of times as she’s making her way back to the house.

Once she has a chance to look at the wound, it’s not as bad as she had feared. It’s far from the first bite she’s ever received and she’s thankful that the wolf didn’t tear the skin too badly. She might end up with a scar. The dog bite broke the skin and she should probably go get a rabies shot, but she settles for cleaning it out well and bandaging it. Once that’s done, she gets her big bottle of pepper spray and goes out to yell for Friday a bit more. The dog hasn’t turned up; Emily is worried that Friday is hurt or that the animal that bit her will find the dog.

Emily is running on fumes when she finally succumbs to a few hours of sleep. It’s still early when she awakens to find that Friday still hasn’t returned and her leg hurts like crazy. She takes some ibuprofen then calls Derek. He knows these woods better than her and she’s not sure she’s in any shape to search them alone. Besides, if the animal is still out there, it’ll think twice about attacking two people.

“Hi,” she says sheepishly when he answers the phone. “Friday ran off last night. A wild animal, maybe a wolf, attacked us. She ran off and I got bit. I’m fine, but Friday hasn’t shown back up. Is there any chance I could offer you lunch in return for helping me find Friday?”

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Emily Borges

September 2016

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