‹ Prequel: A Life Cycle Reborn
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A Life Again

Chapter 9 Kyle Present World: Earth

Smarty is a spunky little dog. For a small guy, he is a good fetcher. I toss his squeaky toy. He runs after bringing it back and bounces around my feet with a few grunts to announce his return. He wants me to go and throw it again. Smarty isn't used to the water yet. He has gone as far as to dip his toes in at the shore while taking a pause from fetching to have a drink. I haven't gone in yet either. I never cared much for swimming and will only go in if the heat is too much. This time I toss his toy away from the lakeshore and towards the gravel driveway instead. He dashes after it.

I lean on the porch railing watching him grab the toy in his mouth then drop it and sniff around. It looks like he is searching for a spot to pee. I imagine that he is getting used to all the new smells of this place. I know he likes it here. I do too. I finished moving about a week ago. I bought the little two-bedroom cottage on the lake that I had first seen and called the Realtor about. She had taken me to see a couple of other listings to compare but I liked this one the most.

This is the first day where I haven't had to drive into the city to work or spend the day unpacking things. Everything is unpacked and the furniture is all set up to my liking. Smarty pees and then picks up the toy and returns it to me. I toss it again, further up the driveway this time and he goes after.

Robin would have liked this place. The previous owners did a lot of landscaping and there are all sorts of flowers and plants arranged along the length of the porch. The lake seems to be all sandy bottom along the part of the shore that I own. She hated stepping in lake weeds. Smarty is bored of his toy and trots off into the woods. I walk down the porch steps, partway down the driveway to where he went in." Smarty!" I holler out. I can hear him running around in there. His paws landing in dry crunchy leaves, my guess is he is chasing a squirrel. "Smarty come here!" Now he decides to start barking as he gets bolder and runs further into the forest. His footfalls are growing fainter.

It's no use to keep shouting and walk over to my car, open the door and grab his leash out of the compartment on the door. I walk back to the spot where he ran in. I don't see him but hold up the red leash and yell, "Smarty, want to go for a walk?" It takes a moment, then I hear his paws in the fallen leaves and he races out, covered in burrs but his tail wagging. "Bud, you're a mess. Don't make Daddy buy one of those invisible dog fences. Stay in the yard. You hear me." Smarty doesn't care that he's covered in burs. He's focused on going for a walk now because I have said the magic words, so I must deliver on my promise. "A short walk okay, just to the mailbox and back."

I clip the leash to his collar, and we walk to the end of the driveway and along the gravel road. This is our first walk here. Normally I just get in my car to grab the mail or I will stop by the mailbox on the way home from a day of work in the city. There is only one other cottage that I pass to get to the mailboxes, that line the corner of the street and maybe five other cottages passed my own. I know this from counting the mailboxes on the corner. I've yet to meet the neighbors, which doesn't bother me. I gather that they are more quiet types like me or that all these cottages are only holiday properties for their owners. It rained in the night, so the gravel road isn't dusty this morning. As we walk down the road the forest opens to grassy fields and on the left is the lake. As we continue closer to the mailboxes the other cottage along the route comes into focus. It gets treated to the shade of the forest next to it in the afternoon and sun in the morning from being situated on a grassy lot.

The aroma of cinnamon fills the air as we walk past. There is a car parked in the gravel driveway. I think that this is the first time that I take notice that someone is home. It's quiet at this cottage. No one is outside, but someone is busy inside and baking something with cinnamon. It smells like those cinnamon rolls, the ones with all that icing on top that you get at the coffee shop.

Smarty slows unsure on if we are continuing downthe paved road that we have come to or whether we are turning back. He islooking back at me as we come to the mailbox. I open the door to the metal boxand pull out a couple of store flyers. I am surprised that flyers get deliveredout here. I tuck them under my arm and tell Smarty, "Let's head back." The dogjumps around my feet and prances ahead back down the dirt road.