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Brewster's Plan

A story about the end of Summer

By Wilkie StewartPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 7 min read
Brewster's Plan
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

I am lying on the back seat of the car, casually thumping my tail off the cushioned back, enjoying the air-conditioning when Mum first mentions it.

Ben is on the front seat and the three of us are heading towards the beach. At least that's where they said they were going when we set off. "Does Brewster want to go to the beach and play in the sea?" she had asked. "Does Brewster-boy?" She is always talking to me like I am an idiot. Saying things like "Look at those big eyes. Anyone would think you were understanding every word I say". Little does she know.

"I think we should pop into the shopping centre, honey," she says. "Have another look at those cases and backpacks. You're leaving in less than a week, you know."

"I know, Mum," Ben says but not that enthusiastically. Leaving? Where is he going? This is the first I've heard of it. Of course I don't really listen to their chat. If I have a nice bone, or I just want to doze, or if someone is rubbing my belly, or if I'm scratching a particularly persistent itch, their words just fly in one ear and out the other. I've got better things to do than listen to their boring stories.

Ben is my main man. We've been together forever. He was the one that cuddled me at night when I was frightened of the big house and the lack of my brothers and sisters. He was the one that house-trained me with newspapers on the floor and light scolding on the nose and taking me out for "business" in the garden. He was the one that introduced me to the neighbourhood, showed me the best parks and street lamps, kept me safe from the local bullies and let me check out the friendlier dogs. And he is the one who still takes me to the vet when I am sick, hands me treats when Mum is looking the other way, and knows just where to tickle my belly and ears the best.

"We need to start packing. The university is three hours away and I'm not driving over each time you need a sweater," Mum says. The hair on my neck virtually stands on end. I know Ben is out of school but that happens every summer. I didn't realise this was his last summer at home.

I give three short barks and a slight whine. This is my signal to Mum that I need something but despite our ten years together she still hasn't picked up this simple phrase. "What's up with Brewster?" she asks. "Did he see something out of the window?" We have just stopped at a red traffic light.

"No," says Ben. "I think he wants something." See what I mean? He's a prince. I give a short bark.

"OK, we'll hit the beach first," Mum says. "But we need to get organised about your stuff."

By Sarah Brown on Unsplash

By the time we are back at the house I've almost forgotten the car conversation. We spent an hour at the beach running up and down the surf, chasing a ball around in the bright sunshine. Even Mum had joined in. And we hadn't gone anywhere near the shops. Now the food in my bowl is just too good to spend even a second of eating time thinking about anything else. But once I pick the bowl clean and chase it up and down the kitchen with my tongue a few times, I start remembering what Mum had said. I lap a few mouthfuls of water, catch a treat that Mum tosses me and sit down to chew at it.

Can't I go with Ben too? Maybe that is the answer. Then I remember Buster. He is an old golden retriever that lives a few doors down. His main man is Jim but two years ago Jim joined the army and now he only returns a couple of times a year. For Buster life has never been the same since.

I drop the chew to Mum's amazement, dart out of the kitchen and bound up the stairs. Ben is in his room, an old case open on the bed. He is going through drawers and cupboards looking for sweat shirts and denims, trousers and belts, his best underwear (the ones that don't smell so nice), his training kits. Some of these are going in the case. Others sit on a pile to one side.

"Hiya boy," he says and scratches behind my ear. He is too distracted however and returns to sorting out his clothes. I rub my nose on the back of his leg. This usually provokes more scratching and cuddling but not today. "Sorry Brewski, Mum's on the war path. I need to get some of this done," he says.

I'm not normally disobedient. If Ben says no I usually plant myself down somewhere and sulk, heeding his commands even when said in a soft voice like today. But I am desperate.

I jump on the bed and start to pull the clothes out of the case. At first Ben is startled and can only watch. But then he gets angry. "Brewster, get down off that bed right now!" I am powerless to resist. He is using his alpha male voice. I jump down, my tail submissively tucked below my back legs and my ears drooping.

Mum is standing at the door. "You'd think someone didn't want you to go," she says. I give a whimper in agreement but Mum and Ben start to arrange the clothes again ignoring my opinion. "I'll put these in the wash," she picks up the pile Ben had put aside, "and get them nice and fresh for next week."

At the door she turns and looks straight at me. "And no more monkey business from you," she says, laughing. I'm not laughing. And I'm not a monkey, I'm a dog, thank you very much. And I need to come up with a plan.

Now don't get me wrong I'm an intelligent dog, but I'm still a dog. My first plan is to be ready first thing every morning and with my paws keep Ben in bed. If he can't get up then he can't leave.

There are two things wrong with this plan. First of all, when on holiday Ben is never an early riser, in fact he is rarely a morning riser, so I have a long wait before I can spring my trap. Secondly all Mum has to do was rattle my feed tin and any thought of imprisonment vanishes until I've had my breakfast.

My second plan is just as dumb if more subtle. I've seen it in Hollywood movies. It involves me finding Ben a girl and then engineering a meeting so that he falls in love with said girl. The sad thing is, dogs and humans have completely different tastes. Those I find attractive, Ben finds repulsive. He certainly has no interest in the beggar ladies I introduce him to. He is sweet though, and buys each a coffee.

By Myles Tan on Unsplash

After a few days I decide that the best plan is to remind him of the place he is leaving. I drag him to the park and make him look at the duck pond and the little kids playing on the adventure playground. I remember when he was young enough to think this was an adventurous place too.

I take him up the hill above the town so he can see the high school, the mini-market, the football fields, the track that leads down to the river. Let him smell those great smells, see those great sights, taste the summer fields and remember the winter woods.

I play chases down in the fields and along the town pathways. I show him I don't mind how many times he throws that frisbee for me to catch, or throws that stick for me to fetch. I have infinite patience for his stupid games. Except if there is another dog to chase or a rabbit or squirrel to distract me.

In the end none of these plans are working. I can feel with each cuddle while watching CSI on TV or each scratch behind the ears while he plays the Xbox that he is measuring these moments and storing them away, like storing fuel for a lonely winter of text books and history essays and empty silences.

This is part of growing up, not just for boy or girl, but for dog or any pet (even those sneering, scratching, hissing things that we won't mention by name). We have to learn to say goodbye.

This is brought home to me the day before departure. I am eating breakfast and Ben sticks his face around the kitchen door to tell Mum that he is just going up the street to give a borrowed pair of headphones back to his friend Jack while he can. Off Ben goes and suddenly Mum is in floods of tears. At first I try to ignore it but my heart is soon breaking. I leave off finishing my meal and plant my head in Mum's lap. "Oh Brewster," she says. "You feel it too don't you? We've spent all this time adoring him and now we have to let him go."

The day of departure is here. Mum, Dad, Ben, me and the cases are packed into the car and off we go. Past the school and football fields, past the shops and beach and onto the motorway. Everyone is in high spirits, cracking jokes, remembering how fast the time had passed when Ben had gone on school trips, or Dad had gone abroad on business or Mum had nursed her sister across town, trying to ignore the feeling that this separation is final, that we will never live together as one big family again.

By Christopher Le on Unsplash

The university is red brick, with lush lawns, and hushed halls and lovely girls in long dresses. There is little I can bark or whimper to make Ben change his mind. He gives me an amazing cuddle and promises to see me at Christmas and take me for long Winter walks. I try to ask him about the Autumn, or Halloween, or the first snows but he just says at each whimper, "I know, Brewski, I know" and we leave it at that.

Mum and Dad take me walks and when I can I stop and pass a few moments with Buster. His big eyes say it all.

And all I can add is, "I know, pal, I know."


About the Creator

Wilkie Stewart

Writer of strange little tales living in Glasgow, Scotland. A former IT professional who loves literary fiction, poetry, Eurovision, art-house film, post-crossing, and comics. Walks daily with his camera when he can. @werewegian1 on Twitter

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    Wilkie StewartWritten by Wilkie Stewart

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