Thursday, November 26, 2009

And then there were six

The day Quincy disappeared, I watched him go.

The image of him slipping silently up our neighbours’ driveway until he became obscured by the pine trees that separated our lots, is forever ingrained in my mind.

Quincy spent the morning poking around outside our house, snuffling through fresh snow that covered the grass and gathered in small-mounds near the edge of the forest, the beginnings of snowbanks. I watched him turn and head with purpose towards our neighbours’ place and then begin his relaxed trot up their snow-laden driveway. It was a route he did almost every day.

That day, as he headed off, I felt an overwhelming urge to open the kitchen window where I stood washing dishes and call out his name. In my mind I saw him stop and turn his face towards our house. Past that, I wasn’t sure if he’d come back or turn away and continue on his path. Part of me really wanted to find out. It was a weird, almost unwelcome, urgency that compelled me to try it. I didn’t. We never saw him again.

At the end of that day when he didn’t return, we weren’t too worried. He’d been gone for long stretches before. But I couldn’t shake that feeling I had earlier. Would he have turned around if I called? I think I knew then that he was gone.

We spent the next few days driving around looking for him. I walked the trails, calling his name, hoping to find a sign, but there was nothing. We put up posters on the group mailboxes in our area and waited to hear.

There were sightings by our neighbours. A dog who lived a ways down the road had started coming to our community. From a distance he looked just like Quincy. I spent many days chasing him through the woods. One early snowy morning I got a call from my neighbour that he’d seen Quincy cut through the woods near their place, headed in my direction. I stumbled into my winter boots and threw my coat on over my pajamas, then ran out the door into the early pink light and a wall of cold air.

I headed up the driveway where I had last seen Quincy, and spotted the dog at the crest of a hill up ahead, bracketed on either side by forest. The early muted sun shone from behind him, outlining his silhouette in gold. I stopped and called to him. I could tell by the angle of his body he was looking at me, then he turned and sauntered off into the trees. I ran up the hill and followed his tracks as far as I could, eventually losing them amongst other tracks that criss-crossed through the woods.

Everyday we expected him to turn up. With Quincy, anything was possible. When he didn’t come home each night I went to bed thinking, maybe tomorrow. We’ll wake up and find him waiting on the deck, we told each other. I don’t think either of us really believed that.

Our hope slowly petered out, but at the same time it was replaced with a feeling of acceptance. It was Quincy’s way after all. No matter how much a part of our family he became, he remained on the fringe, always eager to do his own thing, go his own way. He left our life like he entered it, quietly and without fanfare.

We argued about what happened to him. Morgan was sure he’d met with a pack of wolves or startled someone with a gun. I refused to believe those things. To me, Quincy would always be a free spirit. Obviously it was time for him to move on and I didn’t fall to pieces because I knew in my heart that was true.

1 comment:

  1. A beautifully written, thoughtful, and absorbing piece of prose - you vividly, and with apparent ease, make us feel the reality of your thoughts and emotions, as that canine pilgrim Quincy quietly slips from your life. A wordsmith brimming with magic! Thanks!