Aimée – Thursday – 7:34 am

This entry is part 12 of 14 in the series Equanimity

The tri-coloured beagle scuttled across the sidewalk and made its way up to a telephone poll. There it looked down, sniffed, and, satisfied that this was as good a place as any, lifted its leg to urinate.

“Good boy Toby,” Aimée praised as she pet it. The dog looked up at her, obviously proud of what it had done, then looked down again and continued its walk.

Aimée looked down at her dog and couldn’t help but notice how old he had gotten. Toby’s once shiny black and brown fur was now laced with grey, and the dog walked slowly, as though he was careful with every step. Toby was nonetheless very young at heart for a 12 year old beagle, and still enjoyed the little things, such as sniffing different trees and meeting up with his dog friends at the dog park.

The dog park was located just a few blocks east from Aimée’s apartment complex, and was the place where Toby had always gone to. He knew the way to the park and could probably find his way there even if he started from the other side of town. Aimée also enjoyed the park. It was a place where she could relax and chat with other dog-loving friends while Toby exercised and socialized.

Of all days, today Aimée needed to relax and chat with friends. Earlier in the morning she had gotten up from a bad dream. A dream that had shot her out of bed, and that frightened her so much she didn’t want to go back to sleep. She tried to forget the terror and horror of the dream, but found herself shaking as she took her shower and got dressed. Toby could tell something was wrong, and kept at her side throughout the morning.

“Don’t worry buddy,” Aimée had said with a smile, “it was just a bad dream.”

Dog and owner made their way down the streets, stopping every step or so for Toby to sniff things on the ground. Aimée looked down at him, remembering back to when he was younger and the pair would run down the street as fast as they could, Toby wanting nothing more than to get to the dog-park as fast as possible. Those days were long gone now.

Aimée felt the dread of the morning’s dream surround her, and she felt the need to move on, tugging on Toby’s lead as the old dog struggled to follow. The dog jumped into a gallop as Aimée began to run down the street.  She felt fear and danger surrounding her and needed to get away as fast as possible.  It was as though some unknown terror was following her, chasing her from behind.

She got to the intersection across from the park and ran through the red light, cars honking as they swerved to try and avoid her and her elderly dog. She made it to the other side in one piece and fell to a knee, trying to catch her breath.

A hand reached down and grabbed her shoulder.

“Dude, you ok?” A young teenage voice asked.

Aimée brushed away the hand and stood up, nodding at the young man who looked at her more out of surprise than concern.

“I’m fine,” she said, then looking down at Toby, “Are you ok boy?”

“Yea, um,” the teenager continued, confused and, Aimée thought, obviously under the effect of some drug, “you need help with anything?”

“I said I’m fine!”

The young man slowly turned and began walking away, turning back for a few glimpses at Aimée every now and then. Aimée had bent down and was petting Toby, who had obviously not run so fast in many years. The dog was a little shaken and breathing heavily, but was otherwise fine.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me,” Aimée said while passing her hand over the dog’s bristly coat.  As though in response the dog became fixated on something behind her and, for the first time in many years, began growling.

Aimée turned her head and looked around. At fist she saw only a crowd of people walking back and forth across the busy intersection.  Then something, or rather someone, caught her eye.  The person in question was standing still among the sea of people, staring back at her.  It was a large, bald man.

The man seemed to be in a trance, looking at her with a smile as though he was day dreaming. It was only after a moment that he noticed she was looking back at him, and his facial expression went from pleasantness, to surprise, to sadness, and then fear in a matter of seconds. He turned and shifted away, distancing himself from Aimée, disappearing into the crowd.

When she was satisfied that the man was gone, Aimée turned and walked to the park with Toby, which she let loose to play with the other dogs. She stood in a corner of the park alone, not speaking to anyone, instead running the events of the morning in her head.

She had recognized the bald man, though she didn’t know who he was. She tried to remember where she had seen him before, and was stunned by the realization that the man with the exact same features: fat, bald, covered in burn scars, had been in the dream that woke her up that very morning.

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