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Canada Only. North America. Show only see all Show only. Free Returns. I need to go to the store for dog food, all right? You need to be good here for a few minutes by yourselves. He nodded. An hour later, by the time Matthew got back from the store, Karen stood barefoot at the top of the stairs holding her soiled socks up in the air, out and away from her body.
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Where on earth did you get it? Matthew sighed, shifting the weight of the grocery bags against his torso. She looked down alarmed at the heft of paper towels and dog chow in his hands. She got really attached to Sandy once we had her. And Karen will come around. Even so, he realized that his mother-in-law was right. After more than a month with the dog, Karen remained sullen, and her sleep was failing; many nights she woke with nightmares. But after that initial week, puppy charm wore thin as Lucifer began finding chewable items among their toys: Legos, Nerf footballs, plastic action heroes.
The day the puppy gleefully dragged a deranged Pokemon figurine out into the living room, Jay cried and swore he hated the dog. The only person who seemed to care for the dog was a neighbor boy, Nathan Sheridan, who had begun visiting their house daily. Twice, Nathan had innocently allowed Lucifer to follow him the four blocks back to his house, where his mother, embarrassed, had discovered the error and promptly returned the dog. Then Matthew had had to pin Lucifer, barking, inside the house while Nathan and his mother had disappeared again down the street.
The solution, he thought, was clear enough. Nathan loved Lucifer. He had never had a pet before because his father was allergic.
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What does she think? Have you talked with Karen about it? It took two full days for Karen to realize that the dog was gone. At two-thirty that morning, Karen woke up screaming.
Matthew tried to calm her, but she was delirious—shaking and choking against her breath. And she was right, Matthew thought: he had never liked the man. He and Karen had been the ones to decide. For nearly two years, Karen been caring for her father—worrying over him. And by then, she was pregnant again.
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When she finally quieted down, he held her the rest of the night. Giving his wife comfort: this was something that made Matthew feel useful. In the morning, he left her sleeping. There had been an accident. Physically, he was assured, his wife was fine, but they were holding her for a few days in the psychiatric ward. But once he got the police report, it was easy enough to imagine what had happened that morning. Karen had been alone; no massage patients until noon. Marissa Sheridan was at work, and Nathan was certainly at school. Karen had known what she was doing when she went over to their house.
The quarter mile between their street and Bridger Way, the closest arterial road, was uphill. Her calls, Here Lucifer! Your dog just ran right out in fronta me. Within minutes, police had arrived, as well as an ambulance that had rushed his wife to the hospital. Jenkins, the hospital social worker, was a crisp, silver-haired woman in her late forties.
She was gentle but unflinching. He watched her neat frame fill the hallway in front of him. What she suggested was unbelievable. Matthew eased it out of his mouth and held his hand. Helene was less easy to convince. When Matthew explained the details of what had happened, she remained uncharacteristically silent for a moment. Helene remained quiet for another minute.
Her breath was heavy. Matthew listened hard, trying to decide whether or not she was crying.
Karen ending up so bad off from all that grief. And I know you think I never did anything to stop it, but I did what I could. I got her away from her father, and then I let her think what she wanted to about the man.
She chose to forget all the shit he did to us, and I let her. Matthew heard ice clinking in a glass.
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She swallowed. You take good care of my girl. The following morning, Helene pulled into their drive at eight a. Helene hated hospitals; Matthew knew this. But, he should be there, she knew—even with nothing to do. Even with the worry aching inside him and nothing to distract it. This is it. The thought was growing unshakeable: Our marriage is ending.
When he arrived, however, Ms. Jenkins reported that Karen was doing better; she had become somewhat intelligible. What a handful. Jenkins put a hand on his arm. In the hospital bed, though, Karen looked tiny, helpless. Her skin tone was off, but her eyes were clear. She smiled as he walked in. She was a gaunt figure, diluted like watercolor, but still beautiful. God, he thought, how he had missed her. Her skin was so pale that he could see the thin purple veins at her temple and throat. Leaning toward her, he slid her face between his hands, pressing palms against cheeks; he wanted so badly to protect her.
They remained quiet for another moment. Karen opened her hands and began fingering the muscles of his palm. A vacation or something. Even for a weekend. Whatever you and the boys want to do. He nodded, his relief so great that he felt himself breaking into a light sweat. We are going to be okay. Karen sat quietly, easing the pressure out of his hands, following the lines of his bones with her own strong fingers.
And it was working. He felt himself relaxing, letting it all go. Everything he wanted right then, Matthew told himself, was what he had there with him: his frail but healthy wife, her hands, her beautiful touch. He cleared his throat. Oh, that!
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