The most vivid thing I remember about my dance with death is staring down the throat of a Golden Retriever. That, and watching a purely white towel become ruined by my own blood…I should start from the beginning.
It was my parents’ wedding anniversary and I’m sure they had a romantic evening planned, although my 4 year-old ears wouldn’t have heard as much. We pulled up to my Aunt Pam’s house, my mom plopped a kiss on my forehead, my dad instructed that I behave, and they disappeared into the night. My Aunt Pam greeted me into her home, letting me settle next to her on the couch while she flipped through a gossip magazine. I could hear the thump of rap music downstairs; my three cousins obviously didn’t want anything to do with me.
The only real companion I had for the night was Sammy, a playful Golden Retriever. I remembered Sammy from a previous visit with my aunt before, and I absolutely adored her. That night, Sammy and I had started a game of catch; my feeble little arms would throw her bone across the room; she would bound after it and quickly return it to my hands. We played like this for some time. My aunt peeked over the top of her magazine every few moments to smile at my giddiness when Sammy returned her bone to me once again.
At some point, it seemed I had exhausted the blonde fur ball. She plopped right in front of me, cradled her bone against her, and began feverishly chewing at it. As I had no other form of entertainment, I was disappointed our game had ended. See, I was a needy child. And quite frankly, I was a spoiled brat. I usually always got what I wanted, when I wanted it. In that moment, I wanted to play with Sammy. My small hands reached for the bone stuck between the dog’s teeth, intending to chuck it across the room again. But, Sammy had other plans.
The next thing I remember was seeing the inside of Sammy’s mouth while her teeth clung unforgivingly at my jaw. My Aunt Pam must have been yelling because one of my cousins came rushing up stairs and detached Sammy’s mouth from my face. I was suddenly in my aunt’s arms while she squeezed a towel to my throat. The last time I saw Sammy, she was being dragged by the collar to the basement by my cousin.
The next moment, I was in the car, the seat tilted as far back as it could go, and the once white towel turning a magnificent shade of red as I held it to my jaw. My aunt Pam held her phone to her ear, looking terrified, while at the same attempting to keep me calm with soothing words. Then, I was at the hospital, being greeted by my frantic mother, who was a mess of tears, and my father, whose expression went from concerned to panicked once he saw my condition.
I was quickly pulled into a small, stuffy room. The navy blue paint on the walls calmed me for some reason. A doctor held one of my arms while a nurse stabbed a needle into the other. The scene around me slowly blurred before I was eventually pulled into complete darkness.
That night had went from peaceful to chaotic so quickly. My life had changed in the blink of an eye. In the moment that the relentless teeth of a golden retriever sunk into the skin of my neck, I had no idea what the stakes really were. I don’t remember the pain. I don’t even remember being in pain. I just remember wondering why I had upset Sammy so much. What had I done to make her act in such a way? Was her bone really that important to her? What were they going to do with her?
When I woke up in the hospital, I had 12 fresh stitches lining my jaw. The doctor told my family and me that I was lucky to be alive. If Sammy’s teeth had sunk any further down my throat, she would have severed a major artery. I would have died almost instantly. Now that I think about it nearly 16 years later, it’s quite comical that my only real concern was the dog.
Unfortunately, Sammy had to be put down after that night. I don’t remember my aunt Pam being too distressed about it, but maybe she just hid it well in an attempt to not upset me. She has always been my favorite aunt, and I’ve never blamed her for what happened; I was only a clueless 4-year-old after all. I know that, even though she lost her dog in the end, she still loved me as much as ever. If anything, that horrific night brought me and my aunt closer. I can’t vouch for her, but I know I learned to never take anything for granted.
Regardless, I am still left with scars: a small scar on my cheek and a large scar on my memory. I grew up being terrified of all dogs, but over time that scar lessened. I grew to only be afraid of larger dogs, to, presently, not being afraid of dogs in the slightest. The scars I have, visible and hidden, and are proof that anyone’s life could change in a matter of seconds. Just like that towel, my innocent little life could have been stained by the wickedness of death, only remaining as a young memory in the thoughts of the people who cared for me.
Bio: Being a student at Aims has given me amazing opportunities to learn more about the arts, creative writing in particular. I am hoping to use my experiences here as a stepping stone for my future as a writer. When I was in the fifth grade, I was voted most likely to write a novel. Ever since then, I have always wanted to be a writer. Creating fictional worlds and unique characters to live in them has always been fascinating to me. I am so grateful for all of the people who have inspired me and helped become a better writer here at Aims!