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As the day grew darker and the temperature dropped, Papa looked at Momma. Then he
told me to go secure the barn doors. Every night was the same. Momma prepared
mash potatoes and prepared peas while I secured the barn doors. I didn’t really mind because
I had an old book on the Civil War stashed in an old creaky board. Papa said one day
he’d fix that old board, but he never got around to doing it, because he usually got distracted.
Momma opened the door and called me in, "Abigail, you shouldn’t stay out there too long,
you’ll catch a cold, and it scares your father." I went inside and set the plates. Then we sat
down and began to pray.
“Thank you Lord for this delicious food we are about to receive, and we pray that you bless
our crops and bring rain to Memphis, and that everything comes out great this season in
your precious sons name, Amen.” After we finished dinner, I asked Momma if I we could get a
could get a dog. Ahh…how I've longed for a good huntin' dog. But as always, she said no, with
that unsatisfying look on her face.
“Maybe when you’re older .” she reminded me. I was twelve. How much longer
until I had a dog of my own?
Later that night, when I was getting ready for bed, I heard something scratching at the door.
Ma and Pa were still asleep, “good, I thought.” I opened the front door and saw a brown potato sack moving on its own. I carefully lifted it up and was shocked. It was a Labrador retriever
puppy. Is this the huntin dog I’ve longed for ever since I was seven?
I took out one of Papa’s old lanterns, a boot knife, and some rope then I took the dog and went
to the woods. He seemed to listen very well so I picked out a tree and started to carve it hollow.
I went back to the house and got two old pans. One I filled with water and the other with last
night’s leftovers. I tied the rope from the tree to his neck. He just stood there and looked at me
for the longest time. I guess this will have to do until now, "huh boy? I asked." Now I had to
think of a name. What about Riley? Riley, I like that name I took the boot knife and carved it
into the trunk.
I headed back before Momma woke up. "Abigail Lynn Johnson, get over here now before I
call the sheriff. Don’t you give your mother a heart attack!!" "You should be ashamed sneaking
out like this, what’s your excuse this time?" "Just looking at the stars, Momma." I couldn’t tell
her not yet I just took the punishment: extra chores.
Three months passed by and everything had been the same and I still had Riley.
"It’s probably time to tell Momma about you," I went inside and told Momma about
how Riley came into the picture. She asked me if she could take a good look at the pup.
Well, you seem to be taking good care of him. He just needs a tomato bath. It looks like he got
in a fight with a skunk. "For his food, Abigail, run to the house and get a piece of our leftover
pork roast and some towels. The poor thing probably hasn’t had anything decent to eat in
Momma untied Riley, it took two tomato baths to get rid of the fowl smell.
When he was all done she dried him off and gave him a hot meal,
he was pleased, and happy that he wasn't in the heat. Then around dinner time, Momma gave
him hush puppies, which is fried corn meal. Papa came inside, after momma had called him for
dinner,. he looked at Riley, "why don't we just open a petting zoo, what’s next a rattler?
"Be nice, it's Abigail's dog, and his name is Riley, now eat your dinner." When Momma said,
eat your dinner, that meant, I don't want to hear it. “Oh and you're making him a dog house
tomorrow,” Papa eventually got use to the idea.
Six months had passed and I had Riley for almost a full year. And our crops were blessed we
were rich, that meant I could get more books. We had a big dinner and we were all stuffed, even
Riley was full. Latter that night, I let Riley outside and I waited for his return. I began to worry,
so I woke up Momma and we began to search. We saw that the barn was on fire, so we ran down
the hill. When we got to the barn, we saw a shadow crawling, ooh my goodness, it was Riley and
he's on fire! Momma and I patted him down burning our hands and he shortly died in my arms.
Pappa saw the smoke, and came running out in his pajamas. We had lost 90% of our crops, all
of our farm animals, the barn, my books, and my best friend. Early that morning, I saw that Papa
had built Riley's coffin and engraved a headstone. I saw for the first time in a long time, Papa
“God, how I miss my best friend.” Looking back at my childhood, I had great memories.
Living on the farm with Momma, Papa, and Riley enjoying the summer breeze.