You can never know where life will take you in just a day, or even just a minute. If I knew this would happen, I wouldn't have spent all day on my laptop scrolling through YouTube all day. If I could go back, I would spend all day with her outside. I would've gone to the beach and the park, her two most favorite places. I would've ran until I beat her to the giant oak tree at the park and I would've bought her lots of yummy food afterwards. Only if life was that nice. Only if life went your way. And only if I didn't do things I would regret. But all humans tend to feel sorry, thankful, and grateful for their loved ones’ existence after they aren't part of your life anymore. I did too.
"Grace! Come and eat breakfast," my mom called my family from the kitchen downstairs. My two twin brothers ran down the stairs, almost tripping over each other.
"Dylan! Dave! You better slow down. And go help your mom," my dad followed right behind them and yelled.
My two brothers stopped running and started tiptoeing, moving as slowly as a snail. I watched all of that from the top of the staircase and just dragged myself to the dining table.
I saw a plate of yellow scrambled eggs, two pieces of perfectly toasted bread, a handful of salad, and two sausages. The classical breakfast menu that we always got when we ate brunch outside. In the middle of the table, I saw a bowl full of watermelons. I really tried not to but my brain instantly thought of her. She loved watermelon and I once made her homemade watermelon popsicles. I was so mad at myself for thinking about her again as tears gathered in my eyes. It was already five months since she wasn't with us anymore but I still couldn't believe it. She left a giant hole on my chest that no one can heal but her. I pushed all those thoughts away and started shoving all the eggs in my mouth.
After breakfast, I went on a walk around my neighborhood, taking off all the 'MISSING' posters I had put up exactly five months ago, on the day she went missing. It had been up there for long enough that I gave up. All I could do now was to just keep her as a memory in my heart. I ripped off every missing sign on the poles on each block corner and wrinkled them into a big ball. As I ripped off the last sign, I fell to the ground, feeling sorry that I gave up on her. Feeling so bad that I was living without knowing where she was doing and what she was doing. I wiped off my tears and walked for another five minutes, making sure I didn't look like I was crying.
The next five months passed as well as the changing seasons. It was almost a whole year without her. People seemed to have forgotten about her and I tried as well. I tried to put all of her stuff away in a box. In a box that was stored all the way at the end of the storage room. A place I couldn't reach even if I tried. I had to move on with my own life. I had to live well and happily for her. Of course it wasn't easy to forget all the memories I had kept for five years in just a year. I was the closest person to her and I once regretted getting too close with her.
"Hey Grace! Wanna hang out at the park today at 2?" my one and only friend Amber called me.
"Sure, sounds good," I was so thankful for Amber. She helped me block out the past and future, but instead just focus on the present.
An hour later I walked to the park and saw Amber’s bright green eyes sparkling as she was waiting for me on the bench with a picnic basket that I brought as well. We waved at each other with wide smiles, happy to meet again after such a long time. We found a spot in a shadow under the giant tree and unpacked our picnic baskets. Amber brought a bowl of strawberries, a small homemade cake, a plate of chocolate chip cookies, and sparkling water. I unpacked my basket which had packs of candy, flavored juice, chips, and some more junk food. We all need that one day with your best friend, just eating all the junk food.
We just talked about some random stuff, boys, and took each other's stress. I felt so much better and forgot about my worry that I had for the past 10 months. Then, my phone rang. It was an unfamiliar number but I still answered it with a light heart. Just expecting a random ad.
"Hello, is this Grace Timber? Bini's guardian?" It was Officer Matthew. My heart started beating so fast that I dropped the cookie I was holding and couldn't breath. I didn't care if Bini's dead body was found or if they gave up. Bini. That name I didn't say for the past 10 months. It got all of my emotions out and exploded the part of my heart that was pushed down this whole time. I took three deep breaths and managed to respond.
"Yes, I'm Grace," I tried to sound confident but I couldn't help my voice that was shaking like an earthquake.
"W-w-we--" Officer Matthew stuttered, then stopped talking.
"WILL YOU PLEASE JUST TELL ME! TAlK TO ME!" I bursted without knowing why.
"We found Bini. She is very scared and she looks like she was abused badly. She has many scratches and blood all over her. She's needing urgent surgery for some fractures in her bones and you won't be able to take her home until much later, possibly months," Officer Matthew told me. He was talking very fast and his voice seemed as if it was trembling.
I couldn't talk. I couldn't move. I couldn't believe it. No way this was true. Then my eyes were foggy. Foggy from the burning tears that were about to come down my face like a waterfall.
"I-I- this isn't a lie, right? Are you sure it's Bini? MY BINI?" I was yelling, my voice so watery.
"Yes. It is her. The same features as you described to me. The same as the picture although she is covered in scars. Come see her. She is at the Hopeful Hospital right now, getting ready for surgery," Officer Matthew was calm now. Maybe he was holding his tears back.
I then noticed Amber who was right next to me, hugging me tightly and wiping my tears away with a handkerchief. She was crying too. Tears were falling but her mouth was smiling. I was more than happy that she was with me for this moment because Bini loved Amber and Amber loved Bini, even more than me. We stuffed all our food into our baskets with trembling hands. We kept going from laughing to smiling to crying. Bini was hurt very much and I was extremely frustrated and upset that I couldn't even express that feeling but I was glad she was alive. That was all I needed to hear. That she was alive. Alive and breathing. Because I knew she would be fine and because I knew I could make her well again.
I raced home after saying goodbye to Amber. I burst open the door, panting because I was out of breath.
"MOM! DAD! WE HAVE TO GO NOW!" I shouted. Our house rule was to never yell but I didn't have time to think about the stupid rules.
"GRACE, WHAT IN THE WORLD IS HAPPENING?" My mom screamed back in a mad tone.
"Please, just come. Officer Matthew and his team found Bini. Just now. She is at the hospital. Hopeful Hospital. I have to go see her right now," I took a deep breath and talked much calmer as my mom raced down the stairs with the rest of my family following behind her.
"WHAT! LET'S GO NOW!" My parents yelled, a mix of shock and excitement.
We drove, all of us trembling. I couldn't keep myself still. I felt as if I was dreaming and I pinched my cheek multiple times already. My mom looked back every minute, making sure I didn't pass away. It was just a 20 minute drive but it felt as if it was a two hour drive. We finally parked and I ran into the building.
"Bini! Officer Matthew! Where are you?" I lost my mind at the thought of being able to see Bini.
"Grace! I am here and so is Bini," Officer Matthew's face was bright red from crying. I ran towards him, every step making my head feel lighter and lighter.
Finally. Finally after 10 months I saw her. Bini. Fragile. Her white fur was stained place to place in red blood. Her short and thin legs were wrapped in white bandages. She had deep red tear marks on the side of her nose. I was confused for a second. I wasn't sure if she was Bini because she was so unnoticeable. Bini was crouched into a ball, full of tension. Suddenly, she lifted her head and I saw her sparkling black eyes. That moment, I knew it was Bini.
Bini met her eyes with mine and as if she recognized me, she lifted her damaged body and shook her tail as hard as she could. I put my hand on the glass of her cage and cried silently, not wanting Bini to feel my sadness.
The story behind how Bini went missing was complicated. It was about three years since we got her when she went missing. We left her at the doggy care center for three days. On the second day, I got a phone call from the doggy care, telling us that Bini was stolen in the play area outside. We immediately went to the doggy care and asked how this happened. We called the police and had them search all employees to see if they had Bini. It wasn't any of them. Since then, we were looking for Bini. Putting up signs all over the place, working with the police to investigate any suspects. It was extremely hard. By the third month half of the officers gave up. They said if anyone did capture her, it was most likely that she was sent to someone outside of the US.
It turned out that a homeless man had stolen her and went to Texas. I lived in California. He took her to go out begging with him on the streets, feeding her rotten leftover food. He knew having a pretty dog would get him more money. When Officer Matthew was in training in Texas, he saw a homeless man with a dog similar to Bini. Bini had two circular shapes on the top of her back so it was one of her dominant features. Officer Matthew noticed that and approached the man. He started by complimenting the dog and carefully asked where he got it. The man, not considering a thing, just said that he kidnapped it from a doggy hotel. Officer Matthew then asked which doggy hotel and the man said, California. Everything was clear by then.
Bini was immediately put into Officer Matthew's car and the homeless man was arrested in about five minutes. It was like a movie.
I visited Bini every other day. I noticed that she was getting much healthier. Her coat was shining again, her legs all went under surgery and now they were strong. It took time and effort but finally after one year, I held Bini in my arms again. Her soft tongue licking my face. She seemed to remember me. I felt so sorry. This poor puppy was probably thinking of her, even when getting abused and treated horribly.
Exactly two years after Bini had gone missing, she was back home from this long chapter of our life story. She was still a bit scared of us but that was okay. I knew she would be okay.
The most unexpected events took over my life for the past few years. I never imagined this day to come and I learned a lesson: to appreciate every moment while it's here instead of when it's gone. Because once it's gone, that's regret.