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It's Time

by Ricky Keck 2 months ago in dog
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by R.L. Keck

“It’s time,” my wife said, nudging me gently in the ribs. “We need to go.”

I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and looked at my watch—three-thirty on Christmas morning. “Are you sure? The doctor said—”

“I’m sure.”

Stepping into my sweats, fully awake now, I considered the sixty-mile trip to the hospital. At this hour the traffic shouldn’t be bad. “Have you got everything?”

She nodded, and I could see the pain in her reddened eyes as she struggled to stand, the added weight she carried hindering her slightly.

“It’ll be all right. Do you need help to the car?”

“No, I’m okay. Just get the door.”

“Hang on. Let me warm it up first.” I pulled on a hoodie, grabbed the keys, and hustled out. I should’ve taken a moment to put slippers on. My bare feet screamed when I stepped on the frozen ground. I hesitated, looking to where the car sat twenty-feet away, and back to the inviting golden glow of the foyer. Ah, screw it. I ran to the car, forced the key past the ice covering the lock, opened the door, and jumped in. “Shit, it’s cold.”

Mercifully, the car started—new battery. I turned the heat knob to the right and cranked the fan to max. I kept my hands in my armpits and waited as the defroster began to melt the windshield ice. Satisfied the old Buick would not stall, I steeled myself for the return sprint to the front porch across the slippery flagstones of the walkway.

My wife stood in the foyer as I burst through the door. Her sober demeanor banished the curt comments I was preparing to share regarding the timeliness of the latest cold front, and I moved past her to retrieve my shoes and jacket. I needed more than my thin hoodie.

“Watch your step. The ground is icy.” I held her close to my side as we worked our way to the car.

It took a moment to lower her in the passenger seat but finally had her buckled in. I shut the door, ran back to double-check I locked the front door, and realized the keys were in the Buick’s ignition.

“Damn.” I rushed back, apologized for the gust of cold as I snatched the keys, then ran back up the steps to secure the deadbolt.

My ears and cheeks stinging, I dropped into the driver seat. Jerking the car door closed, I said a silent prayer. I slid the key in the ignition and turned it, hoping. The engine turned, coughed once, and started. I released the breath I had not realized I was holding.

I reached over and squeezed my wife’s cold hand. “You okay?”

She turned wet eyes to me but did not speak.

“Yeah, I know.” I put the Buick in gear and backed out of the driveway.

I twisted the wiper control to low. The rhythmic scratch, thump of the blades as they scraped slush from the windshield, sounded very loud over the silence in the cabin.

The radio remained off. Up here in the mountains static was the only guarantee.

I said nothing. What was there to say? I knew we both understood what was happening. I certainly didn’t want to open a dialogue about it. I knew the consequences should I broach the subject. I had been here several times before.

But, it was a responsibility, one I took seriously, and it was time.

Neither of us said a word for over an hour.

I turned in the entrance of the empty hospital parking lot and felt the tires crunch over snow and ice as I steered the Buick into a spot close to the doors. Pale yellow light spilled from windows onto the latest snowpack, and I thought of Frank Zappa.

“Don’t eat the yellow snow.” The words were out before I realized what I said. “I’m sorry — poor timing. I’m just…God, I hate this.”

My wife touched my arm as I opened the door. “She needs you to be strong.”

I stopped, my left hand on the door handle, my right still gripping the wheel. “I will be. I always am.” I climbed out, pushed the door shut, and stared at the illuminated sign over the sliding doors of the hospital: Blue Pearl Animal Hospital.

Sighing, I went to the passenger door and opened it. “Give her to me.” I gently extricated the small wrapped bundle from my wife’s embrace. “Wait here. I’ll take care of it. If you get cold, the keys are in the ignition.”

Choked sobs were her only response. I eased her door shut and turned toward the light of the emergency entrance.

A veterinary assistant met me at the check-in desk. “Good morning, sir. Is that Abigail?”

I nodded. My vision blurred as tears formed. I blinked them away and took a deep breath. Lifting the nine-year-old scottish terrier higher in my arms, I said, “It’s time.”


About the author

Ricky Keck

Keck has been writing adventure and fantasy fiction for 30+ years. He has seven titles published and is working on more. A retired Navy bomb disposal technician, he infuses his adventure series with real world situations.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  3. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  4. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (16)

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  • Mark Graham2 months ago

    I hated when I had to give up my dogs even though they were 15 years old. My first dog was a poodle when I got him when I was 5 and I still think of him. My other was a girl who was a Cock-a -poo and I had her for at least 12 or so years. I did not want to put them down but they were sick. I will always remember them.

  • Brianna Baez2 months ago

    As someone who just lost their dog, this is really beautiful. Thank you for sharing 💕

  • Jack Levi2 months ago

    This was a very good and informative article. Everything is clearly explained and understandable. You were not speaking to the point. I loved this, Thank you so much. Very clear and effective explanation. Thanks for giving such wonderful informative information. I hope you will publish again such type of post.<a href="">Click Here</a>

  • Zuri Sabir2 months ago

    Soul beautiful. Thank you.❤️

  • Thavien Yliaster2 months ago

    Wow, at first when reading it, I wouldn't think it would be about the needs of an elderly pet. On first read I got the perception of two people who were expecting to have a child. Instead they weren't being gifted a child, but had to come to terms of giving the gift that is their current child onto the next stage of life without them.

  • Amazon3162 months ago

    Wow Took me by surprise Enjoyed the read

  • Linda Rivenbark2 months ago

    That one took me by surprise. Not what I thought was happening at all. I hearted it and subscribed.

  • Anamarie 2 months ago

    wow beautiful

  • Liz Fletcher 2 months ago

    Beautifully written. Loved it.

  • L. Ann Rucker2 months ago

    Dang it. Now I've got a lump in my throat. Really great job on this. (And I am sorry for your loss).

  • Writing this was cathartic for me. I was able to let go as the words filled the page. Pet ownership comes with responsibilities, one of which is knowing when it's time to say goodbye, and having the strength to follow through. Thanks for your comments.

  • Karen Lawsson2 months ago

    Saying goodbye to our pets never gets easier. I hold on to the belief I will see them all again one day. I'm sorry for the loss of your Scotty dog, but your story is compelling and somehow comforting.

  • Charleigh Justice2 months ago

    Wow. I relate to this all too well. Beautiful job <3

  • Nic Thomas2 months ago

    Beautifully written.

  • Jennifer David2 months ago


  • Cristina Hector2 months ago

    It’s your writing that keeps us engaged in the story to the very end. May fond memories of your beloved dog warm your heart always.

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