In the weeks after the memorial service, The Dog’s life started returning to normal. The house smelled less and less like despair and loss. In its place a new smell. It was sweet, like flowers, but had a spice to it. It seemed to follow my mother, mixing with her smell.
Whenever I caught the scent, I slipped into The Dog and we stood beside her. Every now and then we would lean against her, and the smell would wash over us, getting stronger by the second. It was almost suffocating. I wanted to run, to hide, but The Dog remained calm. He would stay by her side and just stare at her, resting his head softly on her lap.
Eventually, the smell would pass, and we would be able to breathe again. Every now and then she would nuzzle into our fur, and when she let us go, there would be small wet patches, her eyes red.
The Dog and I were in the lounge, sprawled in front of the fire. My mother was on the sofa. Suddenly, there was a loud noise from outside, and we flew into action. Or we tried to. Mum had lain a blanket on us, and it tangled around our legs. As we leapt up, we twitched, slipped and fell over scrabbling desperately to our feet again.
There was a sound and we turned tail between our legs to look at my mum. Her mouth drawn wide, hands in our fur, she was laughing.
The smell was gone.