“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 40: A Day of Surprises

On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

As a member of the “Prom Court” voting committee comes to stand before us, I steal a glance at Lucy. Our prom dates abandoned us for each other, so we’re currently side-by-side. Not speaking…

How can I make things right?

“I feel sorry for that panel. They’re being blackmailed by a couple of scheming hotdogs.”

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I startle at the sound of Max’s voice from behind. Turning around, I’m surprised to see that he’s alone. At first I thought for sure he was Lucy’s prom date, but later I learned that she went with PJ instead.

Did Max come by himself…?

“Where’s your date, Max? Didn’t you want to invite…you know…?” I ask in a whisper, leaning closer so Lucy won’t hear.

His mouth curves into a tiny smirk. “Even I have my chivalrous moments…”

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I tilt my head to the side, staring into my old friend’s mischievous face. He’s never been the secretive type, but I’m suddenly overcome with the sense that he’s hiding something pretty big…

Though my beagle intuition has been wrong before.

“We will now announce the dogs who have won the titles ‘Prom King’ and ‘Prom Queen’!”

Scarlett and Cocoa Bean toss their heads, trying not to appear too interested in the results. They seem confident, but there may be a hiccup in their plans.

“PJ and Keeva!! Come to the front so we can celebrate!!”

The crowd bursts into loud, excited cheering. Lucy and I look at each other, smiling from ear to ear, and for a moment I forget that things have changed between us.

“CONGRATULATIONS, KEEVA!! PJ!!” Lucy and I shout, adding our strong barks to the wave of joyful sound.

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Seeing Keeva smile without holding back fills me with immense pride, even though I really had nothing to do with her progress. She had fun today, and she didn’t worry about what other dogs were thinking as she danced.

When we hesitate or doubt ourselves, we risk missing out on the best things in life.

Maybe I’m the one who needed to learn that…

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As Keeva and PJ lead the Lodge dogs in another round of dancing, I turn to Lucy. I’ve spent so many months worrying about what she thinks of me, but the truth is, it doesn’t really matter. Even if she doesn’t feel the way I do, it can never change the fact that Lucy was the first friend I made here. She was the first to give me confidence, and to encourage me. When we spend time together, playing, swimming, exploring, rolling in dirt, daydreaming about bacon, and following interesting scents, I’m the happiest version of myself.

The least I can do is tell her the truth.

“I like you a lot, Lucy,” I say, looking her straight in the eye.

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Her eyes widen, but she smiles back at me. “I like you a lot too, Bing.”

Oh no! What if she misunderstands me? I need to be clear…

“N-Not just as a friend though! I…I would spend all my time with you if I could. You’re the only dog I would let eat from my food dish. When you’re not around, I don’t feel right…so…”

Lucy touches her nose to mine.

“Silly Bing. That’s what I meant, too,” she says, smiling down at me.

Though the Lodge dogs move and play around us, it suddenly feels as if we’re completely alone. All the tension has vanished with a few heartfelt words, and for the millionth time, I’m in awe of Lucy’s special power.

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“Does this mean…we’re…uh…” I begin, my tongue going dry at the worst moment.

“A couple? That’s what I was thinking,” she says with a laugh, her tail wagging. “Unless you’d rather be enemies!”

“Can I still like you if we’re enemies?” I ask, taking a step closer to her.

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“That’s my only rule. No matter what we are, you must always like me,” she says, her bright smile widening.

I’ll always remember this day, for as long as I live. I know it…

Suddenly I notice that Max has been oddly quiet.

Is he upset that Lucy likes me…?

But when I turn around, I see that he has vanished.

“What’s wrong, Bing?” Lucy asks, a note of concern in her bark.

“Max is gone. Do you see him anywhere?”

“As a matter of fact…” she begins, nodding her head towards the other side of the yard.

I can’t believe what I’m seeing!

Max and Scarlett are dancing in the corner, away from the rest of us. Even though she lost the “Prom Queen” title, she’s happier than I’ve ever seen her, with a tiny smile on her golden face. Max is smiling too…

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“Max said he was the only one brave enough to take her to prom. Last week he told me that he would wait for her to ask him so she’d think it was her idea. Even though he likes messing with her, he seems to understand her pretty well,” Lucy says, watching the strange pair.

So that’s what Max was hiding!

It looks like Keeva and I aren’t the only ones who are full of surprises today…

…to be continued…