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Aching Bones, Aching Heart

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Callum worried for Dog.

After he had reached the age of eighteen, he moved out from his uncle's house, found a job as a tree-cutter (with less accidental decapitation attempts involved) and a teacher at the local school and bought a small, wooden cabin in the nearby town. He fell in love with the beautiful dame named Amy, who reminded him very much of his younger cousin Alison. She sported curly amber hair and bright blue eyes.

They married in the spring, under the sun's gentle light.

When he was twenty-six, Amy birthed his first child, a small, beautiful boy named James. The child was a little devil at first, always crying whenever parted from his mother and his hunger never satisfied. Once James turned five, Callum and Amy were expecting another child.

In the coldness of winter, within the confines of their house, a wee little girl, Sophie, was born. The second baby was easier than the first and the two siblings got along well. Callum taught the boy everything his uncle Rory taught him, how to fish and chop trees and wood. Amy taught their girl how to wash clothes and pick food from their little garden.

He taught them both how to write, even indulging his wife in literature and the smooth strokes of ink and pen.

Whenever free time presented itself, Callum found himself writing letters to Rory and Trude and their children, who he reckoned were all grown up now.

When he was sixty and sitting on his porch, hands intertwined with Amy's, he thought a lot. As an adult juggling two jobs and kids and chores, he never had much time to be alone with his thoughts. But now, he was living a calm and easy life, watching the waves slap against the distant shore and the trees sway and dance.

He thought of uncle Rory, aunt Trude and Sandy. He wondered how they were doing, were they okay? He thought about Alison and wee Dougal. He hadn't been in contact with them in years.

He thought of Dog, how she was faring, where she went. He thought of her daily, her wide face, smooth fur and long snout. How she'd press against his leg and sit with him in the shade. He could imagine his cousin's ecstatic faces as the canine allowed them to pet her despite their fingers dragging roughly through her tangled fur.

Amy asked often what he was thinking about, but Callum would shake his head and reply with, nothing, dear. But really, he was thinking about everything.

At eighty-nine, he passed away, laying in his bed, hands warm as his family clung tightly onto it. He passed away late in the night, from a sickness that he tried everything to rid of. It stuck like a burr and eventually he gave up, knowing that someday it would be his time.

He looked upon the aged yet beautiful face of his wife, pressing a soft kiss to her lips, bid farewell to everyone within the room, slipped his eyes closed and drifted off to eternal sleep, welcoming the embrace of death.

Something cold and wet pressed against his palm and when he opened his eyes, a large black dog was sniffing his hand. When he pulled the limb away, the dog looked up, it's beady brown eyes staring deep into his own. Without even realizing he was standing up, Callum knelt down, his wrinkled hands coming up to run his fingers through the animal's smooth, soft fur. He scratched her cheeks and rubbed her ears, his lips perking up as the dog leaned into his touch.

"I've been waiting for years to see you again, Dog," he mumbled, placing a kiss on the top of her head.

Dog woofed, her tail wagging.

Callum closed his eyes, his breath breezing onto Dog's forehead. He chuckled airily as two eerily human hands came up to cup his cheeks. When he opened his eyes, a tall, black-haired girl stood, her curly strands falling along her curves as she stood up. Her hands ran along the sides of his face, trailing along his hair lines until she was brushing her digits through his greyed hair. She smiled warmly, turning away.

Callum watched as she padded away, disappearing into the foggy distance, her jet black hair fading into white.

He sat there, kneeling, her touch lingering on his skin, his palm still wet with the moistness of her nose. He sighed, smiling. He had nothing to worry about, Dog was perfectly fine.