THURSDAY: The Arrangement

BY BEVERLEY HANNA

Copyright is held by the author.

I NEVER told anyone. I wouldn’t dare. They had chosen me for him and I couldn’t refuse, not then and not in all the years since.

Maxwell was so handsome, so confident, so much of everything I’d been taught was desirable, particularly in one who’d been chosen from birth to lead others. He was a true aristocrat, in every sense of the word.

His blond hair was soft and silky, waving in the breeze; his voice, a deep, rich chocolate, expressive and forceful. His touch was confident and sure, promising a strength I knew I could lean on for the rest of our days. He was perfect in every way.

Oh, I know. I should have been thrilled, ecstatic, over the moon to be picked as his life partner. I should have been, but . . .

Well, the fact is, I secretly admired the guy who lived down the street. He was short, untidy and overweight, with a nose that didn’t quite fit his face. His voice was high pitched, even a bit squeaky. When he walked, he didn’t stride confidently. He ran. Everywhere. He was the happiest individual I had ever met, bar none, and I didn’t give a hoot what he looked like. I was head over heart in love with him.

But…well…that was years ago, and the love of my life is probably long gone. I eventually grew to love my beautiful aristocrat, and we’ve had a long and happy life together. I certainly don’t regret the choices we made and I’d do it all again, given the same circumstances, but I’ll always wonder . . . what if?

The Centre called today. It seems there’s another choice to be made. Apparently, there’s a revolutionary new surgical procedure available and they’re looking for volunteers. Evidently I qualify. So, I guess I’ll have to choose once again…If I go for the surgery, I may regain partial or even total eyesight, and if that happens, I can keep my beautiful Maxwell, the aging golden retriever who has been my eyes for the past ten years. If the surgery doesn’t work, or I elect not to take the chance, he’ll have to retire back at the Centre, or be adopted out to a seeing guardian for the rest of his days, and I will have to be matched with another dog.

All those years ago, Maxwell may not have been my first choice, but honestly, my first choice was truly ludicrous. After all . . . well, really . . . a seeing-eye Dachshund? Seriously?

At any rate, within a very short time of our pairing, Max became my rock, the one person in my life I loved and trusted completely. He became the better part of me. If there is the slightest chance I can repay his years of loyal devotion, I owe it to him to try.

I’m gonna go for it.