Was It a Dream?
Was it a dream? Linda wonders as she inspects the back fence. It puzzles her; there are no breaks or marks or upturned soil, no trace of the event.
In the dead silence of the wee hours, a dog barked. Linda lay in bed listening, unable to sleep, and frozen in fear. Danger, threat, and aggression hovered over the silent night.
Linda recalls lying on her side with her head turned towards the window, and gazing at the back fence through the bony thorns of her bare rosebushes. A bright red full moon shone its eerie silver light on the backyard; it glittered on the frosted ground, and Linda remembers thinking it was too bright.
And how the dog barked. Its howls and growls and woofs pierced the winter night, which glimmered, Linda thinks, the air was too clear, like ice.
She listened to the dog hidden behind the fence, and though its barks rang throughout the neighborhood, she knew it was in the neighbor’s backyard which abutted her own. Such a bright moon! The unnatural brightness disturbed her, and fear throbbed in her pounding heart, yet her sight remained on the back fence.
A ripping and creaking interrupted the barking, and wide-eyed and ashen-faced, Linda watched the fence rattle. The moonlight shone on the wooden slat as its bottom broke apart, and a big black head poked through it. Sharp white teeth gnashed the slat beside it and snatched it off its nails.
The dog’s head broke and tore at the fence, until the hole was big enough for the big, black furry body to crawl through it and enter the garden.
The dog trampled Linda’s covered herbs and raged through her frosted yard. Its growls and snarls pierced the love and tenderness she lavished on that garden. The dog overturned her patio chairs and table and ripped the cushions. Flower pots cracked, and Linda’s heart raced with fear.
She shrieked when two blazing yellow eyes peeked at her through the dormant rosebushes. Paws reached out towards her, scratching and mauling, trying to enter. She feared the dog would shatter the window and attack her.
Linda pulled the covers over her face, hoping the dog would not see her, and listened to the thunderous barking outside the window.
Daylight and all is still. In the crisp gray dawn, Linda inspects the untouched the fence.
Was it a dream?
She searches for signs of disruption, but finds none. No trampled herbs, no chewed garden hoses, no gashed cushions, no dog hair on upright patio furniture.
Linda pulls her coat tight around her chest, and stands in her rubber boots, gazing towards the rosebushes whose skeletal branches show no sign of attack. Yet, she knows the black dog peered at her through the window.
Was it a dream?
She wants to believe so, until Linda’s puzzled gaze catches the blood-red paw print scratched into the glass, just above the windowsill.