Ilsa And The Puppies
Drawing and Story by Sharon Pope
Ilsa tried to stay in the shadows as much as possible, but shafts of light from the street light spotlighted the very thing she was trying to hide...two puppies.
She stole them from her neighbor's yard during the middle of the night. The neighbors wouldn't miss them. They had so many dogs and puppies in their fenced in back yard and Ilsa was so lonely. She had no one to call a friend.
Ilsa was homeless and lived in a large pasteboard box around the corner in an alley. She once had a husband, two children, and a nice home, but everything was taken in a few seconds during a tornado a couple of years back. She fell into a deep depression and took to the streets. Nothing mattered anymore, not even whether she lived or died.
It was a good sign that she was lonely now. It meant that she was beginning to feel again and that her heart was beginning to heal a little. A sliver of light in the darkness.
She had often stood and watched the dogs and delighted in their antics as she made her daily rounds scrounging for food and necessities. It was a bright spot in her day. She was a fighter, but the depression and thoughts of ending it all had almost won this time.
She cuddled the puppies in her arms the way she used to cuddle her babies as she made her way back through the cool fall night to the box she called home. It felt so good to have something alive and warm giving her face wet kisses again, squiggling and squirming between her arms and her chest. She hadn't realized how much she missed and wanted that.
The puppies were non-judgemental and wanted to love her. Dogs were like that. She picked these particular two, a Pekingese and a small breed hound, because they were the two that came to her immediately when she stealthily opened the gate. They made no fuss when she picked them up, closed the gate back, and walked around the corner and down the dark alley.
Ilsa had thought about doing this for a couple of days and found some string in the garbage can near her box that was strong enough to use as a leash. She immediately tied them to her hand, once inside the box, and the three of them crawled into the old sleeping bag that she called a bed. She would worry about feed and water for her new friends in the morning. They snuggled right up against her as puppies do. She had babies again to care for. Oh, she was so happy to have the company that she could barely get to sleep, but the soft little snoring sounds from the puppies, like a lullaby, lulled her into a peaceful slumber.
Early the next morning there was a rapping on the side of the box. Ilsa never had company and couldn't imagine who it could be. Frightened out of her wits, she stuck her head out though the box opening to see a policeman standing there.
"Good morning," Ilsa said, rubbing her eyes. "Can I help you? I have permission to be here."
"We're looking for two puppies that were stolen from around the corner last night. They were worth five-hundred dollars apiece. Have you seen them by any chance?" The policeman was trying to see inside the box as Ilsa crawled out to stand up facing him.
Ilsa couldn't lie. Tears were streaming down her face as she turned and scooped the two puppies up out of the box. "I was so lonely and I didn't think they would miss them. They have so many, and I didn't know they were valuable. I'm so sorry! I knew better than to steal them. I just couldn't help myself." She was talking in a pleading tone, her words tumbling out over one another. "I don't want to go to jail."
Another feeling had returned. The feeling of fear. But that was better than no feeling at all.
The officer escorted her back around the corner to the Crester's place and rung the door bell.
Lisa Crester answered the door, looking irritated. She took the puppies from Ilsa and looked them over. They didn't appear to be harmed any. Ilsa's home made leashes still dangled from their tiny necks.
Ilsa apologized profusely and explained why she took them.
"Aren't you the lady who lives in the large box around the corner...at the end of the alley? I've seen you passing here often."
"I am." Ilsa was so ashamed and could barely look Lisa in the eye.
"I'll tell you what. You've returned them in good shape and you seem genuinely sorry. Instead of having you arrested, I'll give you a chance to make it up to us if you want."
"Anything." Ilsa sniffled. She couldn't stop crying. It was as if a dam had burst inside her. Lisa, in a moment of compassion, put her arms around Ilsa.
Ilsa hadn't been hugged in a very long time.
A little teary-eyed herself, Lisa said, "I need some help with all these dogs and my kennel business since Frank has gone back to work. If you want to try it, I'll pay you room and board, plus a very small weekly salary. It'll be on a trial basis for a while, until I know I can trust you."
Ilsa couldn't believe the offer. "You can trust me, I give you my word. I've never stolen anything before in my life and never will again." Her tear-stained face offered up a shakey smile.
"Good, you can start right away. I'll show you where to put your things, and I think I have some clothes that might fit you. I was going to donate them to Goodwill, but you might like them."
"Well, I'll let you two ladies work it out from here." The policeman turned and went back to work with a smile on his face. If only all his cases worked out so well. He would check back on them in a few days.
Ilsa followed Lisa through the modest home to a tiny guest house in the back yard near the kennel. A new home, a new family, and all the puppy love she could want.
Another feeling bubbled to the surface as Ilsa stood inside her new home. Hope.
PS--This little story was written spur of the moment, stream of consciousness, which is how I really enjoy writing. It hasn't been properly revised yet, so please overlook any writing mistakes. It was written to go with the doodle drawing above. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.