Cold By Gabrielle Allman Born 2001, from Michigan, United States

“Mom… Dad!”, I yell, running into the living room, “Come outside, I have something to show you!”, I say excitedly. I can tell that they aren’t very interested and would rather just stay on the couch and watch T.V. than come outside and see the surprise I have for them. “What do you need? Why can’t you just bring it inside?”, Dad says as I drag him out of our nice clean house, with perfectly white carpet that doesn’t have a single stain, or at least not yet.

I finally get him out of the house and now he see’s what I am so ecstatic about, the most perfect dog I have ever seen. I saw her walking on the road by herself on the way home from school and thought it was a great idea to bring her home for us to keep.

The second dad sees her, his attitude goes from happy and curious to what in the world I could have brought home, to a shocking look of disappointment in an instant.

“Dad? What do you think? Can we keep her, I already have a name picked out. It’s Bella!” I say, trying to cheer him up.

“What do you think you’re doing? You can’t just bring home a stray dog, Mckenzie! You have no idea where that dog has been.” Dad says, with anger and frustration in his eyes.

Mom comes out to see what all the commotion is about, then she sees Bella and gets the same disapproving look on her face. “Why is there a dog in our yard?” She says with disgust in her tone.

I try to explain to Mom that I found her on the road and wanted to bring her home. I spent an hour trying to explain to her all the ways I can take care of the adorable dog I had just picked up from the side of the road. Then for a split second I do see where my parents disdain is coming from. Bella is filthy dirty with matted hair and mud stuck to her everywhere. Mom says nothing, then all of a sudden she tells me I should take Bella to the pound, where Mom thinks she belongs. Tears are starting to become pools in my eyes and I keep trying to convince them that I will take care of her, that I will help, but they say nothing back to me, they just stare with disappointment. Dad tells me that we could maybe get a dog later in life when I’m older and more responsible but I know he is just saying that, and we would never really get a dog unless we kept Bella. I storm out of the yard with tears running down my face. I’m never going to get rid of her, they will learn to love her, I think to myself. I just have to make a plan on how to keep her.

I am trying to brainstorm ideas but the anger overwhelms me, I can’t think. As I am walking down the road I see cars pass me with lights as bright as the sun. I wonder if they notice how hard I am crying, or if they just ignore me altogether like I am part of the view, just another act of nature. I wonder if they are trying to guess why a teenage girl is walking in the snow in the middle of winter, slipping on the glossy ice, clothes so wet that they are freezing to my legs. I just keep walking. When I get to the bridge that connects our towns I stop. I just want to think. I can tell that Bella is getting cold but she stays by my side, like she has been my dog forever.

I start slipping on the clear ice that covers the bridge over the icy water and then I feel the water sting against my skin… then nothing, my body is numb. I’m in shock. “Bella!” I yell, barely making any noise come from my mouth. “Bella?” I wonder if she has ran away, I can barely stay afloat. I feel as if my arms are going to break off my body like a twig from a dying tree. My legs… I wonder if they are still kicking, I can’t feel them. The ice around me glides across the water with the smallest gust of air. It feels like hours have passed, “Is anyone coming?” I think to myself. I know I can’t stay like this much longer, I want to swim to the shore but my body won’t move.

Then I hear yelling, “Mckenzie? Where are you?” I can hear the faint voices of my parents, then a small whimper of the dog I rescued off the street just hours before. I hope I can stay afloat long enough for them to find me, my body is sinking into the water like jello. When I hear footsteps coming for the bridge above I know that they are close. ‘Please see me!’, I think to myself. Then water fills my lungs, and I rush back to the surface of the water.

“Mckenzie! We can see you! Just hang on a minute longer!” My parents yell from the top of the bridge, their voices are muffled from the water, I can barely hear them. My body is starting to give up, my brain is seizing, all I want to do is surrender to the ice cold and drift away. Splash! I can see her out of the corner of my eye, Bella just jumped in the water, and that’s when I feel a tug on my shirt. The next thing I know I’m laying on the rocky shore, and my parents are standing above me, seeing if I will respond to them, regretting the fight we had only an hour before. All they can say is, I’m sorry. I feel my Dad’s loving arms pick me up and set me in the back seat of the car, then Bella jumps in right after us, her tail hits my frozen face. Under my Mom’s breath I can hear her say, “Maybe we should keep the dog, she did save our daughters life.” And that’s when I know things will be getting better, so I let myself relax.

As I lay in the backseat of our big SUV I can feel the warmth from the heater slowly unthaw my frozen skin and I melt into the seat. I am awoken from the sound of the garage door closing and I know that we are home, and Bella is still lying beside me, like she has always been mine. When I get out of the car my legs feel weak. I walk straight to my room. All I want to do is sleep, but the first thing I notice is our perfectly white carpet now has brown stains in the shape of paws. A slight smile spreads across my face. When I crawl into bed Bella lays besides me. I cover us both with my blankets. I put my hand on her and weave my fingers through her fur. I drift to sleep. This is the beginning of something new and beautiful.


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