Prologue: How It All Started
Everything began when my dog died. Her name was Caterpillar and I had her since I was ten. I was a very emotional child. When I was happy, I was ecstatic, but once I was sad I became depressed and it was nearly impossible to console me.
It was kind of the reason that my parents bought me Caterpillar. I became attached to her quickly. I was a lonely child with wild emotions and nowhere to put them, then I met her. She was a beautiful black lab and was always excited to see me. For the next six years she was my only friend.
Then she died.
I cried for days. My heart felt like it was shattered and placed into the cardboard box with her. I became nearly inconsolable. I couldn’t sleep and I wouldn’t eat. I barely came out of my room. All I did was go to school, cheer practice and come right back home.
During the last week of school, I came home to a very welcomed surprise...new puppies. My parents explained that a friend of theirs dog had a litter of pups and they couldn’t keep them. I came home to three new puppy Shih Tzu’s and I cried my eyes out while hugging them. They were beautiful. Two girls and a boy. Instantly, I knew the perfect names for them. Butterfly, Caterpillar Jr and Cocoon.
It was because of them that I met and made my first human friend nearly a month later.
On one particular evening, that day to be exact, I had been at the park all morning with the dogs. I was hungry and exhausted from running around with them. They had proven to be fast learners and reliable dogs, but it was only within reason. They knew our block well and where the house was, so I’d usually let them off of the leash at that point. To my surprise they began to bark excitedly before taking off full speed without even worrying about me. I was confused as I ran behind them.
My heart skipped a beat as I lost sight of them not knowing where they’d gone, but then I saw the muddy footprints on the neighbors walkway. It hadn’t rained and we hadn’t had a neighbor for months so the grass shouldn’t have been wet. Then I heard his laugh.
“When did we get new neighbors?” I mumbled to myself as I headed around back to retrieve my dogs. I smiled seeing as he was playing with them and rolling around in the grass. Already these new neighbors were in my good graces. They weren’t animal haters like the last ones who kept calling animal control for no reason. I cleared my throat to get his attention and felt as I swallowed my tongue. He was hot. The moment he realized I was there he stood and I could see that he was both shirtless and very, very tall. He looked as if he was about six feet tall; maybe a few inches taller. He had long dark black hair that he was currently wearing in a low ponytail and it still went way past his shoulders.
It was clear he worked out or was some kind of athlete, with broad shoulders, six rock hard abs and a kind of chest that I hadn’t seen so up close before. His teeth were perfect as they hid behind plump pink lips. He was beautiful. I couldn’t find my voice as he took long strides over to me on those long muscular things he called legs. He had to be an athlete, no normal sixteen year old looks like that. If I didn’t know any better, I would swear that this inhumane creature with a godlike body and beauty was moving in slow motion.
“Hello. I’m Dave. You must be our new neighbors, my parents and I just moved in late last night. It was a long drive.” he laughed. I was still trying to cough up my tongue so I could speak. Not to mention that I hadn’t heard a thing last night. Must’ve been sleeping harder than I thought. “Anyways, are these your dogs? I love dogs more than I probably should.” he smiled again knocking me breathless. I still couldn’t speak as I just smiled and nodded my head yes. After a minute or so of awkward silence, he was the one to break it. “Well I can see that you’re really pretty and I’m hoping that you’ll be someone I can talk to. I’m sure we’ll get to have more awesome and stimulating conversations in the future...you know if you ever decide to talk and aren’t actually a mute.” I knew he was joking by the way that he laughed and damn that laugh was beautiful also. It sent a chill up my spine catching me off guard.
“I’m sorry, I just wasn’t expecting to see someone like you.” Great, I finally find my voice and it sounds like I’m insulting the guy. Mentally slapping myself I whistled for my dogs and were surprised when they didn’t obey my call.
“Wow, they must really like you. They always come when I call. By the way my name’s Maria.” I pouted feeling hurt and betrayed as he nodded.
“Or they could sense how sad and lonely I was starting to feel back here and led you here to cheer me up.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, wondering if he was trying to flirt with me. The last thing I needed right now was a boyfriend or love interest. I just wanted a friend.
“Dogs can sense people’s emotions. They knew I wanted to make a friend. So they brought you. I was getting lonely back here and I’m pretty sure that you’d appreciate someone that could talk back instead of just licking your face as much as I would right now.” he had me there.
He started to walk away as I just stood there shocked at how straightforward he was. It took him a minute before he realized I wasn’t following before he paused and just started at me. I guess that my cue to follow him. He led me across the yard past an empty pool that really needed to be cleaned, over the backyard walkway and towards a hammock where he had a book lying facing down. I didn’t bother trying to hide the fact that I was trying to read the title. The minute I realized he was reading Forbidden Spaces I almost jumped out of my seat excitedly.
“Oh my goodness! I love that book! I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it.” I squealed.
“It is a good read. I’m rereading it. Just to make sure I didn’t really miss too much the first few times.” I smiled before sitting back on the side of him on the hammock.
“Does the hospital scene shock you as much as it does me?” I asked a goofy grin slapping itself across my face.
“My jaw drops every time.” he agreed and just like that he could get me to shut up. For a while we talked about the book as the dogs ran around the yard happily tiring themselves out. Somehow the conversation had switched and we spent the rest of the time getting to know each other. I found out that I was right and he was an athlete. Football and basketball. I told him I was a cheerleader, but I was still one of the most unpopular kids in school. We realized we had a lot in common. From a shared love of reading to a shared love of chocolate cake. We had gotten so caught up we had forgotten everything around us. It was nearly midnight by the time we called it a night.
We exchanged phone numbers before going into our respective houses. We spent nearly every day that summer together and when junior started I had a friend to eat lunch with and more. We realized just how much alike we truly were, everyday...even now going into our senior year, we are dressed alike. It’s a weird coincidence that we love.