When their respective owners let Cream Dog and Black Dog out, they would play together for hours. All through the autumn months, they had been flirting gently. If Cream dropped her chew toy coquettishly, Black was there to pick it up for her. If Black ran into the road and did wild acrobatic jumps to impress her, Cream smiled and laughed, raising a paw to her mouth in admiration. When they fell asleep in the garden under the cool sun, sometimes Cream would dare to rest her head on his shoulder, and when their eyes met, sometimes Black would hold her gaze for a second or two before looking away.
"Watch this," growled Black playfully, as he darted into the street and attempted a backflip. Cream began to laugh, as usual, but the car came out of nowhere and suddenly she saw a crumpled mass of dark fur lying on the hard tarmac. She reached his side in seconds. Nudging him with her nose as he lay, unresponsive, she began to howl piteously. Black’s owner burst out of her house, gathered his limp body into her car, and drove away.
Black’s owner returned late that night, without her dog. Days passed, and Cream withdrew into herself, not knowing if the boy who would have been her mate was alive, and, if so, he would ever come back. She slept as much as she could to fill the time, the gnawing worry too much to bear, but her dreams were fitful and full of him.
Eighteen days after she had last seen him, she gave up hope, and began to let herself mourn. Her head in her paws, she lay on the front step of her house. The sounds of the neighbourhood went on, disregarding her pain. The gentle whirr of a bicycle’s wheels. A distant lawnmower. A car door opening and shutting. A joyous bark. Cream’s head lifted, as if electrocuted. She knew that bark, and she knew that blur of black fur headed from his owner’s car towards the fence of her garden. She ran towards him.