The prompt for Two Shoes Tuesday this week is "fear"...
Five-year-old Wendy waited eagerly for Fall, when at last she would be old enough to attend Kindergarten. Finally the first week of school arrived. Wendy's Mother drove her the first couple days to make sure she knew the way, then came the morning it was time to walk the six blocks on her own. Wearing her new plaid dress and Buster Brown shoes, Wendy headed out the door at the appointed time, proudly waving goodbye to her Mom as she headed down the sidewalk to school.
She had gone about half way when she heard a growl so frightening that it nearly stopped her heart. There behind the wooden fence of a nearby house stood a huge black dog, teeth bared. Suddenly the dog lunged at the fence, barking fiercely. Leaping up on his back legs, his massive head rose above the fence, his eyes staring her down. Wendy let out a scream and took off running for school, arriving out of breath and trembling with fear.
All day long she thought about that big black dog, knowing that she would have to cross his path again on the way home. After school she moved quietly down the sidewalk, hoping maybe she could slip by the wooden fence undetected. But there he was, waiting for her. Once again he raced to the fence, snarling and straining against the wooden pickets in an attempt to break free. Wendy broke into a run. Tripping on the curb as she crossed the street, she fell and skinned both knees badly, tearing her brand new dress. Arriving at home, she burst into the house in tears.
Explaining what happened while her mother cleaned her scraped knees and applied band-aids, Wendy said she was certain the dog would at some point escape and tear her to pieces. She didn't want to walk to school ever again, in fact even going to school didn't seem like fun now, not if she had to risk her life crossing that dog's path every day.
Wendy's mother tried to reassure her that the dog was safely fenced and would not be able to escape. She pointed out that no neighborhood children had been attacked or eaten, and said the dog was probably just trying to greet her and make friends. Wendy wasn't buying that at all. Wendy's mother told her that dogs can sense fear, that she needed to walk past him bravely and keep going on about her business without letting him know she was afraid. Wendy wasn't so sure that was possible, but she agreed to give it another try.
The next morning the same scene repeated itself, the dog snarling and Wendy running, her mind filled with panic. She didn't think she could face that big dog again, so she came up with an idea. That afternoon Wendy took another route home, detouring around the block to avoid the house where the dog lived. Her plan almost worked, but the new route took a little longer.
When she didn't arrive home on time, Wendy's mother came looking for her. Not finding her on the designated route, her mother grew worried, and when she spotted her a couple blocks away she was upset. Wendy got a spanking for going off on her own without telling anyone. She tried to explain, but her mom wasn't hearing any of it. "You walk the way I taught you" she ordered, "You can't just go wandering around town. And stop worrying about that dog, he's not going to get you!" Wendy felt very sad; it seemed that no one really understood. This was to become a common theme in her life in the years ahead.
For the next four months Wendy battled her inner fears to face that daily walk to and from school. The dog never stopped racing to the fence, even when it grew cold and snowed, and she never grew less afraid of his eyes that seemed to glow with evil. In her mind, and in her dreams at night, the black dog loomed larger and larger, and she just knew that one day he would tear down that fence and devour her.
It was to Wendy's great relief that her father one day announced they would be moving to a new town and a new school right after Christmas... goodbye big black dog. Fifty some years later, Wendy can still picture that snarling face in her mind, and she has to admit that she still gives black dogs a wide berth when she walks.
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