It was fall. A day when leaves come crashing to the ground from the trees above—half undressed, and soon to be naked.
He is on his way home from school, and like other 8 year olds he slowly plows through the skittering leaves. Where the sidewalk is not covered with leaves he avoids the lines and cracks; wanting no harm to come to his mother.
He sees a dog. The dog is new to the neighborhood. The dog is grey-white, almost a ghost. He reaches through the fence. The dog doesn’t snarl. It doesn’t bark. The boy places his hand on its back. The dog turns suddenly, silently, it’s teeth pierce the soft area between his thumb and forefinger. He jerks his hand away. It catches momentarily in a diamond of the linked chain. The only sound is his scream.
Going home crying, he no longer counts the cracks in the sidewalk, or notices the rustling of the leaves.
Home, alone, he washes his hand with soap and water. He examines the two oozing red holes, he tries to bandage them, but the bandage won’t stay.
His parents come home from work. They see the antiseptic, the bandages, the look on his face, and they see the tears.
He shows them his hand.
“A dog,” he says, it bit me.
Dad looks at Mom and says “Rabies.”
He turns to his son, “What dog, where?”
The boy starts crying, he knows of the shots. The big needle in your stomach.
“The house on the corner, the one across from the church,” he says.
He sees the dog before his dad does, it is still behind the fence.
He stays away from the fence. He waits on the sidewalk while his dad goes to the front door. He can’t hear what they are saying. The door closes.
His dad returns takes his son’s hand and smiles.
“You don’t have to worry,” he says.
He explains how the dog was just protecting its turf, that it isn’t a good idea to reach through a fence to pet a dog. The boy looks at his hand.
He has trouble getting to sleep that night. He hears a dog barking, far away.