“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 39: Stolen Prom Date?!

 On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

Today is a very important day at the Lodge!

Prom only comes once a year, and this is our first one ever! The yard is decorated with colorful paper, but it’s out of our reach so no one can rip it down and play with it. Scarlett stands at the front of it all, welcoming us with a forced smile.

“Wow, the yard looks great, Princess Scarlett! Did you arrange for all this?” I ask, looking around at the impressive set-up.

She tosses her head with a proud smirk.

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“Of course I did! After all, the yard must be impeccably decorated for the coronation ceremony,” she says, tilting her snout towards the sun.

“Who’s getting crowned?” I ask, glancing nervously at Cocoa Bean.

“We do not know yet, as the matter shall be decided by vote. However,” Scarlett whispers, leaning towards me, “I understand that the popular vote may already be in a certain princess’s favor.”

Cocoa Bean shoots me a threatening look that says I’ve unwittingly heard a state secret, so I quickly leave them to continue their greetings.

“Bing!”

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Keeva runs towards me, her lips curling back in an exuberant smile. The sight of her friendly snarl no longer scares me, but a few dogs frantically step back as she flies past them.

“Your fur is especially shiny today, Keeva,” I say, touching my nose to her side.

“You really think so? I rolled around on the ground for a few minutes, so I was sure I’d be dirty,” she says, her tail wagging energetically.

I glance at the other dogs in the yard, searching for PJ. But because he’s on the small side, I might not be able to spot him in the crowd…

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Suddenly the group of dogs starts jumping, running, and spinning in time with the music playing in the yard. Our human helpers usually play slow, soothing music in our suites to relax us, but this is totally different. My paws begin to move on their own, and before I know it, I’m dancing!

Keeva smiles down at me, her teeth glinting in the sunlight. Without missing a beat, she joins in with me, racing and leaping and stepping so quickly that eventually I’m unable to keep up. When I pause to take a breath, I notice that the other dogs have gathered around us to watch her.

“Go Keeva, go Keeva!!” they all shout, their tails wagging vigorously as she continues to dance.

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“Yeah, Keeva! You’re amazing!” I cry, taking a step back to give her more room.

All of a sudden, an older dog races into the circle, stopping right in front of Keeva. He has one eye, and despite his small stature, he seems very tough.

This must be PJ!

“I like your style,” PJ says in a gruff bark. “Mind if I join you?”

Keeva blinks down at him with a look of joyful disbelief.

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“I-I’d love to! But…well…aren’t you afraid of my smile?” she asks, pulling her lips back to demonstrate.

He considers her words for a moment. We all hold our breath as we wait for his answer…

“Afraid of a pretty lady’s smile? Now that’s the strangest thing I’ve ever heard!”

Keeva’s eyes shine with tears.

“Then it would be an honor to dance with you! Oh, but I have to ask my date first,” she says, turning towards me.

I give her a strong nod. She smiles at me, mouthing the words, ‘Thank you.’ I’m glad that she’ll have the chance to spend time with the dog she likes!

“I should ask too! Now, where did she run off to?” PJ asks no one in particular, pivoting around and scanning the crowd.

I wonder who PJ’s date is…Keeva might have some competition…

“Oh – there you are Lucy!”

Lucy…?

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I turn to see her approaching our group, a pleasant expression on her face. She seems happier than she was yesterday, but –

Wait a minute! She’s Max’s prom date! Why is PJ asking for her permission?

“Go ahead, PJ. You might be the only dog here who can keep up with Keeva!” Lucy exclaims.

As Keeva and PJ resume their wild dancing, I cautiously come to Lucy’s side.

“Are you having a nice time, Bing? I’m sorry that PJ stole your date,” she says with a gentle laugh.

“Uh, no! Not at all! I’m…sorry about Keeva. Stealing your date,” I add, looking away from her.

We stand in silence for what feels like hours, watching our prom dates entertain the other dogs. When did being with Lucy become so…awkward? It’s like we’re not ourselves…

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“I…thought you were coming with Max,” I say, but it does nothing to alleviate the tension between us.

She tilts her head to the side.

“Max? No, I…I actually wanted to go with another dog,” she says in a quiet bark.

Another dog…? Could she mean PJ?

“ATTENTION EVERYONE!”

Cocoa Bean’s supersonic bark cuts through the festivities, yanking our focus towards Scarlett and her reluctant entourage.

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“I can assure you all that the committee behind me is positively unbiased. Its members will now collect the votes for Prom Queen and Prom King, so prepare your answers this instant. And may I say, this fine afternoon, that each and every one of you looks exceptionally…uncommon,” Scarlett says, grinding through the flattery with a pained expression.

Prom Queen and Prom King? Who should I vote for…?

…to be continued…