The day Leo came home from the hospital, Franny and Allison settled him back into the basement apartment. It seemed a better place to recover than Franny’s small apartment, or perhaps part of her clung to her own need for an independent refuge.
Somehow, David had kept Precious. Franny’s landlord had run out of patience, perhaps, or the near-death experience on the street had spooked Franny. Leo wasn’t up to dog care yet, and Allison did not want Precious upstairs in the chaos of remodeling.
David’s smooth reassurances that he loved having the scruffy old dog with him, she reminded him of Marilyn, and of course Precious would be most comfortable in her old home, lulled Franny into agreeing to leave her there until Leo got stronger. Her apartment felt cleaner, quieter, and emptier without Precious.
But Franny spent much of her time with Leo, or working, and the guilt of not taking care of Precious as she’d promised Marilyn nagged less and less. Leo would insist he could take Precious back any time, and Franny would be about to agree. Then she’d catch a glimpse of Leo’s face when he thought she wasn’t looking, and it would seem suddenly gray with fatigue or pain. She’d reassure Leo that Precious was doing just fine, and he should take his time.
Time seemed in generous supply, now that Leo was home, and they all knew he would be okay. Afternoons lengthened, and daylight lingered until well after suppertime. Leo, Franny, and Allison would sit on the old green house’s porch in the evenings, wrapped in blankets if the wind blew, and watch the neighborhood’s life pulse around them. Sometimes David would walk Precious over, and join them, adding joy at Leo’s reunion with the dog, and tension to the atmosphere.
David’s apologies for hitting Leo with his Jeep had been profuse, and easily accepted by Leo himself. The others were more circumspect. They reserved judgment on whether David could have avoided the whole incident by driving more slowly, or more carefully, or not at all. Once or twice, somewhere deep in Franny’s guts, a twinge suggested David might have had a clear chance to avoid the accident and simply not taken it.
But she couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to hurt Leo, so she would shake the twinge away and try to be grateful that the outcome wasn’t worse.
Precious, when she saw the group on the porch, wiggled with delight and loved to snuggle in Leo’s lap, especially if he had a blanket on. He’d throw an edge of the blanket over the old dog, and she’d sigh with deep content.
One evening, warm and calm, with no one in blankets except Leo and Precious, as they all mused in silence about their internal worries and aspirations, Douglas returned to Pine Street.
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