The Taddy Year

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The best thing about winter was the snow, or so little Maggie thought. She loved the way it covered everything in pretty apologies for the cold. Sipping her morning cocoa, she gazed out of the kitchen window. The last flakes of the storm rode a fading wind that couldn't seem to decide where to put all of the snow that had fallen from the sky. Silent, white-velvet mounds were everywhere. Landscapes had disappeared, homes looked like gingerbread houses and trees were magically transformed into frosted sculptures overnight. Like Christmas morning, everything was beautifully wrapped, sparkling and new.

Maggie smiled as the promise of making snowballs and jumping into drifts of crunchy-white tingles filled the air. The back door to the kitchen opened, and she turned to see Papa stomping the remnants of snow and ice from his boots on the thick doormat.

“No school today, magpie, but you probably guessed that already,” he said, smiling. Her father was a teacher, and no school for Maggie usually meant no school for Papa. “Did you finish the hot cinnamon oatmeal and cocoa I left for you on the stove warmer?”

She nodded, her face beaming with anticipation. “Isn’t the snow beautiful? And just in time for Christmas.”

“My back is telling me that it’s a darned nuisance.” Papa closed the door and hung his coat on a chair to dry. He had spent the early morning hours shoveling seven inches of his daughter’s beloved snow and there was still more waiting for him. Rubbing the cold from his hands, he glanced around the kitchen. “Where’s Taddy?”

Maggie’s smile faded as she looked toward the open door that led to the family room in the finished basement. “He’s still downstairs. I…I think he’s waiting for you.”

Taddy was the family Brittany spaniel. Except for vacations that took them away from home, he was their constant companion. Maggie always thought he was more Mama's dog and loved her best. When her mother’s life gave way to cancer the summer before, the 3-year old lost much of his spirit. He would often lie on the kitchen floor near the backdoor, listening for her step and the sound of her voice. The dog and his younger mistress had since withdrawn from each other, as if somehow marking the territory to their own grief.

Papa sat down on a kitchen chair as his daughter walked toward him. She was still in her warm flannel PJ’s but had hurriedly donned her snow boots that lightly scuffed across the linoleum floor. “But doesn’t the snow bring presents to all of us if we look really hard?” Maggie’s blue eyes widened…they seemed wiser than her seven and a half years and always tugged at her father’s heart.

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“Well, you’re certainly not alone. Taddy seems to love the snow as much as you, but Brittany’s are well-suited to cold weather. Why don’t you go upstairs, get dressed and put on that snow suit hanging in your closet. I'll put Taddy in his kennel run out back. I still have more shoveling to do in the front of the house. By the way, your snow sled is ready and waiting for you,” he said, motioning to the back porch beyond the kitchen door.

“Ohhh…thank you!” Her face lit up and she gave she father a quick hug.

Papa watched her run into the hallway and up the stairs to her bedroom before he called out to Taddy. “Come on boy!” He heard the slow, resolute steps of the spaniel as he made his way up the steps and into the kitchen. At twenty-five pounds, he was the runt of his litter but athletic and sturdily built with long legs characteristic of his breed. His coat was snow white with splash-patterns of brownish-red, almost the same color as Maggie’s red hair and freckles. He ambled his way over to his master and looked up at him with expressive amber eyes that asked a question.

Papa gently stroked the dog’s silky forehead. “We miss her too, fella. But you have to help me out a little here. What’s going on between you and Maggie?”

Taddy lowered his head and walked to the kitchen door as though he was about to perform a tedious ritual. Papa sighed, got up from his chair and put on his thick coat. Grabbing the lead from the hook hanging on the back of the door, he snapped the metal clasp on the thick loop imbedded in the dog’s collar and led him outside.

Upstairs in her bedroom, Maggie finished zipping up her red and white snow suit and stuffed her auburn curls under the warm hood. She looked out of her window at the backyard below to see her father put Taddy into his long kennel-run and attach the lead to a rope that was secured to his dog house. Although smaller than most Brittany’s, he was an industrious little jumper and would somehow scramble his way over the thick wire fencing that surrounded his run. Neither Maggie nor Papa could see the chew-frayed section of rope that lay hidden beneath the snow.

Maggie snatched her woolen gloves from her bureau and hurried downstairs to the kitchen. When she opened the back door and stepped onto the porch, the cold misted air and vast winter white excited her senses. Smiling, she grabbed the rope to her sled and dragged it down the porch steps into the snow. As she made her way into the backyard, she heard metal clanging followed by a strange retching noise coming from Taddy’s kennel. When she turned to look toward the direction of the sounds, her voice caught in her throat.

Taddy had leapt up the kennel wall. The frayed rope snapped clean, enabling him to clear the top of the fence. The hand loop of the lead freakishly caught the top of the bearing pole and stopped him a full two feet from the ground. As his body slammed against the chain link fencing, the spaniel’s legs flailed at the air while he struggled to free himself. His eyes stared upward at the leaden sky, wide and glazed with terror.

“Nooooo.” Maggie didn’t waste a second. She ran as quickly as she could with the thick snow tugging at her legs. She stumbled into to the kennel wall, wrapped her arms around Taddy, and lifted him up a few inches while pressing their weight against the fence to strengthen her hold.

“Papa! Help!” Tears of panic and the spaniel’s burgeoning weight choked her breath. Maggie didn’t know how long she was there or how many times she screamed for her father before she saw him running toward the kennel from the side of the house. When he reached them, he tore the glove from his left hand with his teeth and grabbed the dog with his right arm. Lifting him up from Maggie’s grasp, Papa unfastened the lead hook from Taddy’s collar with his bare hand. Maggie knelt down with her father he as gently placed the quivering form on the blanket of white between them.

Miraculously, Taddy was unhurt. He scrambled to stand, unsteady at first like a new-born colt. He coughed and gave his body a fierce shake. Seconds later, he rose up on his hind legs, firmly placed his front paws on Maggie’s shoulders and covered her face with wet, dribbled kisses.

“Taddy!” Maggie giggled with surprised delight as she squinched her eyes and tenderly snuggled her face against the spaniel’s warm neck.

Papa gave huge sigh of relief. “You saved Taddy’s life Mags…you were wonderful and very brave.” He leaned forward and gave her a quick kiss on her forehead. “I think we should keep Taddy away from that kennel for the time being. I still have to finish shoveling at the front of the house.”

Maggie grinned. “Okay…c’mon Taddy!”

Without a moment’s hesitation, the Brittany darted after his young mistress and happily scampered alongside her in the snow, his little stubbed tail wagging like a miniature propeller.

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“Watch this,” Maggie called to her father. Taddy buried his muzzle in the snow, trying to pick up a scent, and then snorted as he shook tiny ice-baubles from his nose. Lifting his head upward, he watched Maggie in alert stillness as he eagerly waited for her to toss a frozen snowball into the air.

“I’ll be darned,” Papa thought, and laughed warmly at their bright resilience. The lead wasn’t necessary as the spaniel never left Maggie’s side. When she made a snow angel, he would lie on his back beside her and roll about in the icy white as if miming playful commands. The pair was a happy jumble of white, auburn and red, bobbing and jumping in the snowy playground amidst blissful yips and giggles.

The sun finally broke through the granite sky and smiled down on the trio. The snow glistened with promise. Papa scooped up the icy flakes with the hands from his boyhood that had touched the mysteries of life as sure and as fleeting as the new-fallen snow. The shoveling could wait. He walked over to Maggie and Taddy, and joined them in the gift of this brief winter morning that would forever live in their hearts.



Winter


The Maggie & Papa Series

This is the second story in the Maggie and Papa series. There is one story for each season in this year of Maggie's life, which is the year she lost her mother. Each season seems like a year for little Maggie, as seasons are much longer in the passage of time for young children. Autumn is the first in this series; The Falling Year.



© Copyright 2010 by Genna East. All rights reserved.

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44 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

I could smell the snow in your story that is a reminder of how a moment in time can change everything. Many themes interestingly woven here, though, and with lovely lines from beginning to end…"pretty apologies for the cold"…


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Genna you are an amazing writer! Everything about this beautiful short story is so real...Poppa, Taddy and Maggie feel like family members. I had tears in my eyes throughout this entire hub.

You have a very special gift my friend and I hope your writing will continue ad infinitum so that we may enjoy your writing and our journeys with Maggie.

Voted up, awesome, beautiful, interesting, pinned and shared.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Wonderful dog story. Little children and dogs seem to love snow. sharing.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

For an icy cold, winter flurry of swirling whiteness and heavy winter garb, this story sure had a lot of warmth in it. Not an easy thing to do - but you did it. You sprinkled it with a renewal and hope.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Genna, this really was a very good story and I agree with Mary, you are a gifted writer with a flair for storytelling. Well done my friend!


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Genna, this is beautiful. You are an amazing storyteller! Wow, a heart-warming story.

Really enjoyed this piece.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

God bless, Faith Reaper


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Another beautiful story rescued from the mothballs of HP. This was a wonderful read.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

Genna you write so beautifully. I am always right there when Maggie is in pain and when she finds happiness with her family and precious Taddy. Her father is a wonderful man who can offer love and commitment eventhrough he suffers the loss of his love, he knows to move on is to find closure and peace. Loved your story..Thank you..


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@RTallioni

Thank you! I appreciate those comments about the “pretty apologies for the cold.” I have always thought that snow was like this – ever since I was a little girl. Enjoy your holiday weekend. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Tillsontitan

Hi Mary. Your comments always make my day – truly! Thank you for the votes, sharing and the encouragement, which I appreciate so much. Good wishes for a very nice Labor Day weekend. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Dahoglund

Thank you! Brittney’s love the snow, and really are surprising well-suited to the colder temps.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Mckbirdbks

Hello Mike. Thank you!! And very well said, Mike. It dovetails with what Maggie mentioned, “But doesn’t the snow bring presents to all of us if we look really hard?” It’s that wonder of a child that we all share. I wish you and your family and happy Labor Day weekend.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Billybuc

Coming from a writer I both respect and admire, those comments make me very happy. Thank you. Have an enjoyable weekend, Billy.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@FaithReaper

Thank you for those nice words, Faith. I hope little Scarlett enjoys this holiday weekend, along with you and your family. My best wishes to all. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@BeckyKatz

Thank you for that cute mothball comment, Becky. Lol. Good wishes for a Happy Labor Day!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@AlwaysExploring

Hi Ruby! :-) Your words expressed so perfectly the intent behind these four seasonal stories. Each season represents to Maggie and her father, the learning and the knowing that “to move on is to find closure and peace." Thank you, my friend. Hugs and good wishes for this holiday weekend.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

you really make me a cover to cover reader when it comes to your shorts .. professional and an able writer as I said before voted damn good


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

Beautiful story - loved its happy ending, too.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

This series has the makings of a classic to me, Genna...a beautiful boxed set.

This is a story of love, loyalty and hope. Taddy and Maggie, what a sweet duo. Voted UP and UABI.

Hope you are having a lovely weekend. Hugs, Maria


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

It is 90 degrees outside but I felt that it might be snowing inside as I read this beautiful, moving story, Genna. Exceptional, m'dear. Thanks for this lovely treat.


DnWW 3 years ago

Your quartet of stories presented throughout four seasons is a potential classic, Gen. Beautiful job of writing.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Frank

Thank you! Your comments made my day. Truly. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Blossom

Thank you for that very special comment. It is always so encouraging to know that your work is appreciated. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Maria

I am so honored and pleased by your lovely comment. Thank you so much. It is always a special treat to see you. Hugs.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@drjb

I hope it’s not snowing too hard. :-) I loved your comment! I have mixed feelings about summer coming to a close, with autumn just a few breaths away, and then winter. Thank you for the visit – always a pleasure.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@DnWW

Thank you, Dana. I hope the final quartet harmonizes well. Good to see you my friend. :-)


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and beautiful. Thank you for sharing this delightful story. Made me feel as if I was part of it all. Passing this on.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

I loved this! I could feel the cold of the snow, and the characters are awesome too! wonderful! voted up and shared, nell


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 3 years ago from Minnesota

I really enjoyed your short story. So well written Genna. Hit many buttons and voted up.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Genna, this is a chapter of a book, love your story, of how Maggy and Taddy got close again.

Voted up, beautiful and shared.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

This was such a beautiful heartwarming story, Genna. Touchingly real and lovely. I loved this family experience that you shared here. Captivating and uplifting. Thank you.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Gypsy

Hello! I'm glad the words gave you the feeling of belonging to the story. Thank you. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@NellRose

Thank you, Nell! I am happy you enjoyed the story; such nice words make my day. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Minnetonka Twin

Oh good! I love it when all the right buttons are pressed. Thank you! Enjoy your weekend. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Shyron

Hi. In a way, it is a chapter. Thank you for the visit, and for the lovely comment. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Peg

Hello Peg. Thank you! I am so pleased that you felt the “realness” to this family story. Good to see you. :-)


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Oh how did I miss this gem??It is truly beautiful Genna; voted up plus shared.

You sure have the gift of bringing a story to our hearts for sure.

Enjoy your day.

Eddy.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Eddy. The credit has to go to little Maggie; a character I love. I so appreciate your visit, and the thoughtful comments and sharing. Have a wonderful day. :-)


DnWW 3 years ago

Dear lady. Your imagery is stunning; your characters find our hearts with the words of a gifted writer. Beautiful, Gen!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Dana, my sweet friend. My best to Molly. :-)


klidstone1970 profile image

klidstone1970 2 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

Another beautiful and heartwarming part of the story of a broken little girl, slowly putting herself back together. This was a pleasure to read.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you! I'm so sorry I am late in responding but I have only recently recuperated from a nasty head cold. Good to see you...I appreciate your support. :-)


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 16 months ago from Taos, NM

What a delightful series of stories. I loved this winter one. I love the fairy music also.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 15 months ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Suzette. :-)

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