Forever Ruby • Lili Breitenfeldt

She sat, and watched, and stared. It was all she could do. She couldn’t look away or even close her eyes, she was just left staring. No movement.

This is the story of Ruby. To some, it’s the heartwarming story about love, pride, growing up, and learning of a little dog and her girl. To others though, it’s a meaningful piece of writing that shows the lengths dogs will go to her owners, even if they aren’t normal dogs.

Loud. Screaming and shouting. Kids yelling at parents who yelled right back. This loud place was all Ruby knew, it was the only place she had ever been. Long ago, she had gotten used to the noise of this place and had come to terms with it. She definitely wasn’t going to move any time soon. Until, she did move. Ruby was lifted by frail arms out of the tangle of her brothers and sisters. She was raised until she was staring at the face of a kind-looking old woman with grey hair. “Perfect,” the woman smiled, tucking Ruby into her arms. The little puppy didn’t know it yet, but she had been adopted and taken out of the loud place.

Darkness. Ruby was plunged into inky blackness by the woman she had considered to be a friend. The box was warm though, and the darkness wasn’t scary, it was just boring. Ruby laid at the bottom of the box and was starting to fall asleep when the box moved. She was carried somewhere, and the box was set down. It was loud, like a mechanical roar. She didn’t move, scared of what might happen if she tried. What if the box was sitting in front of a chainsaw or if she was dangling over a cliff and the box was her only protection? The roar came to an abrupt halt and the box was lifted from its location. For a long time Ruby sat and listened to the inaudible chatter of groups of people who were right outside the box. She longed to see them, have them pick her up and cuddle her. The dark reminded her of the time she had spent buried under her other siblings in their pen, and she didn’t like it one bit.

Not long after, a tune was being sung outside. It was a sweet pretty sound that made Ruby want to smile. She felt the box lift again and was being ripped open. Finally, light was let back into it and a little girl’s face peered in. She was probably about three years old. The kind old lady lifted Ruby from the box and she was handed to the girl, who giggled and grinned. She was glad to be in a warm embrace again. The girl was Ruby’s and Ruby became her dog.

Love. It was what Ruby felt for the longest of times. Everyday, when it seemed like she couldn’t be any more loved, she was. She got to watch her girl grow up right before her eyes. She got to explore the wonders that were the park, the school, grandmother’s house, and anywhere else her girl might go. Her girl was probably about seven years old now, but she still loved Ruby.

Excitement. That was the only word that could possibly describe the way Ruby felt as she played in the leaves with her girl. She would go flying through the air until she crashed in the leaves and was surrounded by the sounds of them crunching. It sounded quite like the crinkling of hundreds of pieces of paper. The little dog would sit in the darkness under the leaves until her girl’s face poked through and she scooped up her puppy. Playing in the leaves was so much fun. The girl would pick her up and toss her in the leaves again and again until she didn’t. She sat down on an old wooden swing that rocked back and forth, creaking with old age. “This is my grandma’s house, Ruby. She’s gonna move soon so you probably won’t see it again, but it was amazing.”

Light. Bright, flashing lights flicked outside the windows, scaring Ruby’s girl. The lights were followed by a rumble that shook the house and hurt Ruby’s ears. Ruby watched as her girl sobbed and clutched her pillow, tightening her grip with every rumble. The loud noises cracked over the rooftop again and this time the girl screamed a loud, sad shout that was full of fear. Ruby could do nothing but watch from her spot on the other end of the bed, crying out in her mute voice. When the rumbles and lights came to a stop, the girl slowly looked up from her pillow, silent tears trailing down her cheeks in smeared lines, and spotted Ruby among her blankets. She picked up her dog and hugged her tight, her sobs coming to a stop.

Barking. Loud, sharp and clear barks echoed through the house and scared Ruby out of her nap. She looked around, eyes darting around the girl’s room, unable to locate the source of the noise. Ruby waited for her girl to come bursting into the room to pick her up off of the bed, but the girl never came. She waited, one hour, two hours. More time might have passed. The sky changed colors outside the windows, turning from blue to pink to black. Finally, her girl burst into the bedroom. She had gotten taller and older, and she was probably about nine now. Ruby would always pretend she was still her little girl. “Ruby!” The girl grinned, “This is Rosie, my new dog!” Ruby looked over at the small, curly-haired puppy with golden fur, liking Rosie a bit. The puppy had ran in the room behind her girl, in a fit of barking and had greated Ruby with her interested look and snuffling, wet nose. Ruby liked her well enough, until the day Rosie got bored.

Wet. Very very wet. Ruby was woken from another nap by Rosie, who was licking her. She had managed to move Ruby from her spot on the bed onto the floor. ‘Put me back!’ Ruby tried to yell, but her mute voice said nothing. “Rosie! No!” Her girl’s mother picked Ruby up off of the floor carefully and placed her between the soft blankets her on girl’s bed.

Quiet. Muted singing could be heard from outside the dark bedroom and Ruby strained to hear it. It sounded just like the song that had played when she got pulled out of the box so many years ago. There was clapping and she could hear her girl shouting. This was many years later and the girl was fourteen now. Ruby had watched her grow up like she’d always wanted to. The girl came into the room and showed other girls around, not forgetting to mention Ruby, which made her very happy.

Heartbroken. Ruby’s girl burst into the bedroom, crying. The black stuff that often rimmed her eyes tricked down her cheeks with her tears as she jumped onto the bed and sobbed. “She’s really gone,” the girl said quietly before returning to her crying. She picked up Ruby and held her tight, speaking in soft cries about her grandmother, who had moved on in life and was now with the angels.

The next day, Ruby was brought to a place where everyone wore black and no one smiled. It smelled strange and was quite cold. The windows showed that outside was dreary and grey. Her girl cried even more, even though Ruby was sure she had no tears left to shed. The girl walked to the front of the large group of people, where flowers were arranged, leaving Ruby in the seat where she had been sitting. About two steps away from the front, her girl spun around and ran back to Ruby, crying hard. Her sobs shook her entire body as she picked up her dog and brought her to the front too, where she made a sad speech abouy her grandmother’s lovely life.

Everywhere. Ruby went everywhere for months. She returned to school, though it was quite different from what she remembered. She followed her girl to every class, allowing her to hold and pet her every time she got sad. It made Ruby happy to see that her girl still cared about her.

Now, even more time had passed. Her girl was eighteen. Ruby was right beside her girl as she stood in front of a group of people again. These people wore long, red dresses with weird square hats. Her girl spoke into a little stick with a round end that made her voice broadcast so that all of the people could hear her. Ruby was so proud of her girl. The girl shouted and grinned, tossing her hat into the air as the audience joined her, their cries of joy echoing in the air. Ruby was lifted in the air as her girl danced about. She was a “graduate” now, whatever that meant.

Darkness. Again. Ruby felt herself being lifted and plunged into a dark box again. This time the box was cold and full of weird objects. There was no other sounds. “Aw Ruby,” her girl, who was almost twenty now, placed her into the box with a sad look, “we’ll meet again my friend.” The box’s lid was placed on and Ruby was back in complete darkness once again.

Years. It had to have been years that went by. Ruby sat in the darkness, cold and lonely. Not moving, not even to blink. Had her girl finally forgotten her? She would just lay and stare up at the dark ceiling and walls. She slept a lot more now and spent a lot of time in her own mind, thinking. Until one day.

Light. After years of being in the dark, Ruby’s box was opened. The little dog almost shook with joy as she was lifted from her dark prison by familiar hands. “Ruby!” A woman looked at her. She had the same dark eyes and beautiful brown hair as another girl Ruby knew. Her girl hadn’t forgotten about her. “Perfect.” Her girl carried her down a set of stairs and into the house Ruby remembered so well. She was brought outside and into a car. Her girl set her in the front window so that she could watch the colorful cars that drove past. Ruby welcomed the bright sunlight after years of being in the dark. They drove together, her girl singing along to the music on the radio, Ruby looking out the window. Too soon the car ride was over and Ruby was taken out of the car in her girl’s warm hands. She was brought to a large building with windows and balconies sticking out of it. There were long, blank halls with lots of doors. Her girl walked to one of the doors, the one on the end, and opened it. The door lead to a little room with a bed and a desk. Pictures of her girl and her family on the wall and stacks of books on the desk. Ruby was set on the desk where she watched her girl pull things out of the desk. A ribbon and some scissors. Her girl tied the ribbon around Ruby’s neck with a bright red bow. “She’ll love you,” her girl stood and walked over to the bed where she pulled out her phone and began to type things on it. Ruby watched her, happy to be with her owner once again.

A loud knock on the door interrupted the happy moment. Her girl sighed and stood up slowly, taking her time to open the door. Ruby’s eyes followed her as she pulled it open and revealed a man on the other side.

“I’ve come to remind you that you’re really late on your payments again,” the man said sternly, “pay them by tonight or you’ll be out of here by tomorrow.”

“Yes, okay.” Her girl closed the door sadly as the man left and when she turned to face Ruby, a tear trickled down her cheek. “I tried, I really did.”

Worry. Ruby watched as her girl packed her bags, shoving her books and clothes into suitcases. The entire time she cried, soft and silent tears. She picked up Ruby and went back to her blue car, teardrops falling from the tip of her nose and splattering onto the pavement.

Regret. Ruby would almost rather be in the box in the attic than watch her girl. She sat behind a building, sobbing, speaking to herself about how she had nowhere to go, nowhere to sleep, and that she didn’t want to call home because her parents would be mad at her. She was lost and confused. Her girl pushed through a few bags sadly, until she spotted Ruby, who was still laying on the window in the car. “Ruby,” she said, her voice sounding rough, “I should just call them, shouldn’t I?” Ruby just stared back. “I will.” Her girl pulled out her phone again and dialed a number. “Hi mom,” there was a pause and she walked over and picked up her dog, “Yeah. It’s Rachel. It’s not going okay,” she chuckled a little, “I messed up. Mom, I messed up bad. Yeah, I’ll come home.” She hung up and hugged Ruby.

Singing. It was the same song Ruby had heard once a year for over twenty years now, but instead of for Rachel, it was for a different girl. This girl had a big smile and bright eyes. She was young, only a little older than Rachel had been when Ruby first met her. As the song ended, Ruby’s girl picked her up and slowly handed her to the little girl. “This is Ruby. She was my best friend but I think it’s only fitting that she should be yours now. She helped me a lot.” The little girl giggled and at that moment Ruby, the little stuffed puppy with the big heart, knew that everything would be okay for a long time to come, and that her little girl was all grown up. She had never been more proud.