On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

“What I mean is…do you like me, Lucy?”

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Her eyes widen.

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It feels as though we’ve been standing still for hours, but I’m painfully aware of each second that ticks by as I wait for her response. To make matters worse, I can’t read her expression…

Have I lost her?

“Oh Bing…” she begins in a quiet, cautious bark.

My heart stops. Could it be…?

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“…I never meant to make you think I don’t like you! Bing, you’re one of my best friends at the Lodge. Did you feel left out because I was going to spend time with Max?”

Relief and sadness mingle in my gut, and at first I’m so stunned that my jaw hangs slack. She misunderstood my question! And I thought I had phrased it so carefully…

“Bing, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” Lucy says gently, taking another step towards me. “You and Max are equally important to me!”

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Suddenly I catch a new scent from behind me. I turn around quickly, hoping I’m mistaken, but today luck is not on my side. Max is standing there, staring at Lucy with a look of profound disappointment in his dark eyes.

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“Lucy, I’m not feeling very well this morning, so I think I’m going to go lie down…”

As Max slowly walks away from us with his tail tucked low, all the worries I’ve had about his relationship with Lucy fade. Instead of telling him how I felt and being honest about my fears I snuck around behind his back.

I need to make things right.

“Lucy, I’m going to make sure he’s okay. And I’m sorry for asking you if you liked me…because I’ve never doubted that you do,” I say, touching my nose to her side.

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She sends me off with the smile I’ve come to love so much, and I rush to the other side of the yard.

Max is lying against the fence, his nose tucked between his paws. I approach cautiously, my mind sorting through all the things I could say to him. If only I could show him how sorry I am…

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“Max, can we talk? There’s something I need to tell you…”

He lifts his head slowly, as if he’s too weary to manage a conversation.

“Bing, I appreciate you trying to find out whether Lucy likes me, but I wish you had let me ask myself. Now there’s no hope for us…”

It hurts to see him so dejected and hopeless. I did this to him, so he deserves to hear the truth from me, even if it destroys our friendship.

“I didn’t ask her if she likes you. I asked her if she likes me.”

Max’s ears flick, but his expression remains hard and cool as a stone.

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“I haven’t been honest with you Max. When I learned that you have feelings for Lucy, it made me aware of my own feelings for her. I’m still not sure what they are, or what they mean for the future. But I was afraid that…that if the two of you liked each other, you wouldn’t need me anymore. So…I had to find out for myself what her feelings were, so that I could move on. Now I see that I should have just told you, because even if it tore us apart, I owed you that much as your friend. I’m so sorry, Max.”

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The happy barks of the other Lodge dogs fill the silence that floats heavy between us, and it stings. Did I sacrifice our friendship for a half-baked fear? I wish Max would say something, anything, so I can move forward.

“I can’t ask for your forgiveness,” I say, backing away from him, “but I promise I won’t interfere anymore.”

Max suddenly springs to his feet. He looks like a wolf as he stares down at me from the bright blue sky. I brace myself for a bite, or a curse, but instead he nips playfully at my back.

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“Max…?”

“You told Scarlett but not me? Some friend!” he says with a laughing bark, jumping around me with newfound energy.

“H-How did you know I talked to Scarlett?” I ask, flustered. I turn to look for her outline against the other side of the yard, but she’s nowhere in sight.

“Bing, she told me everything you talked about yesterday. She told me to make up with you before I did something stupid. But I wanted to hear it all from you…I’m sorry for deceiving you. I had no idea you felt that way about Lucy…”

So that was Scarlett’s real plan: distract Bing, tell Max the truth, and encourage them to reconcile. I can’t help but smile at her cleverness!

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“I guess this means you and I are good old-fashioned rivals now, huh?” Max flashes a wide grin at me before running in Lucy’s direction.

In a matter of moments the world around me has been transformed. The sun is brighter. The turf is softer. The air is sweeter.

“You’re on!” I cry, tearing after him.

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Whatever happens from this point on, I know we’ll be there for each other!

 

…to be continued…