Friday, January 17, 2014

Prompt: Make something new out of the very old

I first met Old Max on a photo class hike in the Grunewald, my second semester at Humboldt University in Berlin. I had wandered away from the rest of my class, so focused on short depth of field that I failed to keep track of where I was going, and where I had been. I saw Schatzi first, actually. All that black fur bounding toward me was a little alarming, but the biggest danger from her was being bowled over and licked to death.


“Schatzi! Be nice to your new friend,” I heard an old man’s voice calling. The black giant gave me one last lick and bounded away. “There you are,” he greeted her as I trailed after her. She leaned against the slender, old man who carried a big walking stick in lieu of a cane. I didn’t realize he was blind until much later.


“She’s beautiful,” I offered as I approached. He smiled and nodded, rubbing her head. “What kind of dog is she?”


“A Leonberger. Bred to look like lions,” he said with a laugh. She shook her head and it rolled all the way down to her tail. “Did you find anything for me?” he asked her.


Schatzi barked and bounded back the way we had come. In a moment, she reappeared carrying a small log the way smaller dogs would carry a stick. I wasn’t sure I could lift it.  She dropped it gently at Max’s feet, and he knelt and felt it carefully from one end to the other. As he pulled up his sleeves in the warm spring air, I saw the numbers on his forearm. I’d seen several since I’d been in Germany, and it always gave me a shiver.


Max beamed and petted Schatzi again. “Good girl. Good wood. This will make a fine lamp.” He struggled to lift it, and I stepped in to help. The wood was lighter than I expected, and I put it over my shoulder.


“Here, I can carry it easily,” I offered, intrigued by the idea of using the wood in a lamp.


“My home is just over there,” Max pointed with his staff. “If you don’t mind, I’d be glad to fix a little lunch for you, if you have time.”


I heard a loneliness in his voice, and though I thought I should be finding my classmates, I decided to go with Max and Schatzi. I didn’t know then that was the first day of my new family in Berlin…


Dogs in House
January word count