“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 54: Visions of Loneliness

On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

A flash of light broke their long, dark tread, as Ebenezer Pooch trailed the Ghost of Christmas Past with a feeling of dread. The place was familiar, a Lodge in the country, but something was different…the ground felt sort of…crunchy.

“Snow? But there was none earlier today!” cried Ebenezer with a hint of dismay.

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The Ghost only laughed like the peal of a chime, “Today, I’m afraid, you’re in an earlier time.”

He tilted his head, his expression askance, but his question was answered when he spared one more glance. There in the yard was a shy young pup, who might resemble Ebenezer when he one day grew up. The likeness was startling, this memory suppressed, and he could only watch in fascination as the moment progressed.

“Come play with us, Ebenezer!” the other dogs said, rushing right past him to his puppy self instead.

He watched as they romped all together with glee, his memories returning with each happy scene. When he first came to the Lodge, all those years ago, they’d made him feel special and helped him to grow. Each friendly face came to life in his mind, bright spots of warmth he’d never expected to find.

“They were my friends. When I didn’t know a soul they made sure to include me,” Ebenezer said, breaking the silence in the midst of his reverie.

“Yes, once you knew what it was to be loved and to love. But that meant very little when push came to shove.”

New dogs arrived, some young and some old, but Ebenezer had changed…his expression was cold. He kept to himself at one side of the fence, a chilly demeanor his only defense. All who came near him turned away disappointed, until the past and the present were no longer disjointed.

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“I felt abandoned whenever new dogs came. I was just scared that nothing would stay the same.”

The Ghost nodded, her shape growing faint. “You cannot change what you’ve done, but it’s never too late…”

The darkness returned as she faded from sight, leaving Ebenezer to ponder her visit that night. Why had he rejected the love of his friends? Was it really not too late to make amends…?

His thoughts were disrupted by footfalls like thunder, and when he turned around he was gripped by wonder. An enormous dog, like a great furry mountain, sat before him with its mouth open in a dripping fountain.

“Hello, hello down there!” came the dog’s deep bark. “Enjoying the fresh air?”

Ebenezer stared up, his eyes open wide as the large, friendly dog gently moved him aside.

“Who are you?” he asked, his voice quivering and cracking. The dog flashed large, white teeth that seemed made for attacking.

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“I bring you glad tidings and holiday cheer, but I only come once to this world every year. Blink and you’ll miss me, I’ll be gone in a second! I am none other than the Ghost of Christmas Present!”

His jolly laugh rang strong and noble, a hearty sound heard all the world over.

“Another ghost? Why must I always meet with a ghost?”

“Well, you can’t just travel through space and time without a host!”

As if on cue, the darkness dissolved for a different view. The Lodge again, but no snow today, so Ebenezer thought as they went on their way. The yards were filled with dogs both strange and familiar, tails wagging as they played – nothing peculiar.

“Look over there and you’ll see why we’re here,” said the Ghost, his bark devoid of its usual cheer.

Bitty Bing sat with his friends all around, his tiny snout pointed down toward the ground.

“You shouldn’t pay attention to a dog like that, if you ask me,” Max began. “I mean, he makes Scarlett look like a member of the Welcome Committee!”

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“That’s not why I’m sad. Mr. Pooch must be so lonely…he doesn’t have a single friend,” said Bitty Bing with a tiny sniff at the end.

He’s sad for me? But how can that be…?

“You’re sad for him?! Bitty Bing, you don’t have to work so hard to get on Santa’s ‘Nice List’! I tell you what, if Ebenezer Pooch didn’t come to the Lodge tomorrow, he wouldn’t be missed!”

Ebenezer’s paws felt frozen in place, a pained expression drawn across his face.

“I should have expected this, I suppose,” he said, weakly scrunching his cold, wet nose.

“You do not make it easy for others to love you, but hope is not lost, there is still something you can do.”

As the Ghost before him vanished into the dark, Ebenezer let out a panicked bark.

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“What can I do for them now? I’ve hurt so many, and even myself…so how…?”

The Ghost’s enormous body was no more, but his rich voice vibrated like never before.

“If you do not change your ways, I see a bleak conclusion to the rest of your days…”

As the darkness swallowed him up again, Ebenezer was the loneliest he had ever been…

…to be continued…