Good morning Leonard {a collaboration}

As I sat down to write, my son decided he wanted to write a story too. He named my characters for me but couldn’t come up with his own story to write. He was getting frustrated, moving from typing to writing and finally giving up. Then he decided to write a picture to go with my story.

He took his time and paid attention to every detail. It became difficult for me to concentrate on my writing because I had to keep stopping to answer, “What color is her hair? What about her eyes? What kind of dog does she have? What should her shirt look like?”

He was so proud when he told me, “Now you can just write a book and I’ll draw the pictures! And we can publish it. Since you’re an editor, you can edit it.”

I think it’s a fabulous idea.

So here’s our first collaboration. The idea came from a friend’s Facebook status, the names from T (along with the artwork…obviously), and the rest was me.

I hope you enjoy!

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by TJL

Annie was in the middle of a dream that disappeared immediately when she opened her eyes and felt a long, wet tongue glide across her cheek. She used the corner of her comforter to wipe away the saliva and smiled at the big brown eyes staring down at her.

“Morning Leonard,” she said groggily. She pulled the comforter over her head, but the labrador was having none of her sleepiness. He nuzzled his dark nose into her pillow and nudged her. When she revealed her face again, he took the opportunity to paint her face wet again.

“Okay, okay. I’m up. I’m getting up.”

Seeming satisfied, Leonard jumped off the bed and watched as Annie sat up and stretched as much as her joints would allow. She slowly stood up and stretched again, reaching her hands towards the ceiling. She bent backward, but only a bit until her back told her that was enough. She shuffled to her dresser and pulled on the old pair of sweatpants she kept folded on the top.

She ambled to the kitchen, Leonard at her feet, and filled a small coffee cup with orange juice. As the bread began to warm up in the toaster, she slipped her feet into her sneakers and tied them up. Leonard’s bowl was empty, so she scooped some food into it and patted his head as he started to scarf down his breakfast.

Annie sat at the table with her orange juice, toast and a bowl of fruit, looking out the window of her small dining room and wishing she could climb back into bed. The sun was barely starting to peek above the horizon. She still had a couple of hours before she had to be at the college for her morning class but despite how hard it was to get up on Leonard’s schedule she really did love her mornings.

Her phone buzzed with the alert of a new text message and she knew who it was before she even glanced at the screen.

Due to the time difference her son, off in the world in his second year of college, was always headed off for his first class of the day while she was busy waking up. He knew she would be up. She was always up when he was walking across the quad.

She finished her breakfast while carrying on a text conversation with Jack. By the time she was done eating, Leonard was nudging her leg. He was ready to go out. Annie tucked her phone into the pocket of her sweatpants, threw on her favorite green sweatshirt, and met the dog at the backdoor.

Leonard was already holding his leash in his teeth, offering it to her as if a peace offering for making her get up so early.

Once they were outside, Annie started to finally feel like she was waking up. The chilly morning air pinkened her cheeks. Her breath formed small clouds in front of her. Autumn was coming and soon she would have to bundle up for their morning walks. For now, by the time they returned from their walk she would have shed the sweatshirt and enjoyed the heat of the sun on her cheeks.

She let Leonard lead her down the long driveway and onto the dirt pathway that led through the woods.

Annie loved where she lived. She was surrounded by trees and a river ran close by where Leonard liked to cool off in the summer. She could drive for fifteen minutes to a small shopping center where she bought her groceries and got her oil changed, and an extra fifteen minutes to the little college she had taught at for more than 20 years. If she drove twenty-five minutes in the other direction, there was a real city where she could attend plays and poetry readings and stop by McDonald’s occasionally for a vanilla milkshake and a large order of french fries.

As Leonard stopped to do his business near an old ponderosa pine, she looked up toward the rising sun with closed eyes and let it warm her face. She loved living far enough away from her neighbors that she couldn’t hear them pulling in and out of their driveway during the day, but close enough that a quick walk meant they could enjoy each other’s company and a cup of tea. There wasn’t a lot of other noises besides the breeze rustling the leaves, the crunch of sticks beneath her feet, and the birds and insects waking up.

She felt the phone in her pocket buzz again. It was Jack again, reminding her to text him when she got home. Even if he was in class, he wanted to get the message that she had returned from her walk safely. From hundreds of miles away, Jack still worried about his mother like she worried about him. She agreed to notify him of her arrival and tucked the phone back in her pocket.

Leonard started walking again and Annie let him lead her. They took the same route every morning, passed the same trees. Annie was convinced she could close her eyes and he would take her along the exact same path. But then she would miss the view.

When he was growing up, sometimes Jack would take the morning walk with her and Leonard. As a child he would hold her hand, letting her hold the leash in her other one. As he moved into the teenage years, his hands got stuffed into pockets or he would take charge of Leonard’s leash. His last year of high school he circled back around and started holding her hand again. Not all the time, but just often enough for her heart.

As they headed back towards her driveway Annie removed her sweatshirt and tied it around her waist. By the time they made it back to the house, a small bead of sweat had grown on her brow. She wiped it away on the back of her hand and unhooked the leash from Leonard’s collar.

He immediately ran to his bed in the living room, circled around a couple of times, and laid down with his head tucked up on a raised part of the bed that acted like a pillow. He closed his eyes, and as Annie headed for her bedroom she could hear him start to lightly snore.

“Lucky boy,” she said with a smile as she pulled off her tee-shirt and headed into the bathroom for a shower.

 

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