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1. instead – movies – futon (use one or all)
2. in the blink of an eye
3. fuchsia – leather – cyanide (use one or all)


I knew that Major Hastings walked just a few feet behind me, although I couldn’t hear his footfalls on the soft meadow grass. He’d been slowing down a lot lately, his age showing in tired old muscles and joints as well as in the gray that sprinkled his hair.

“Come on, Major,” I told him. “It’s just a little bit farther.” I slowed my steps a tiny bit and looked back occasionally to be sure he was still with me. I hated to have him know that I recognized his ever-increasing disabilities.

By the time we reached the cabin door, I could see that my old friend’s eyes were heavy with fatigue. I went inside, leaving the door ajar so he could come in when he felt ready. The logs in the fireplace had softened to red embers. I poked them with an oak stick and tossed on some kindling to encourage quick warmth.

Major Hastings came inside and dropped onto the old futon near the door. I allowed him that privilege; he’d been my companion for a good many years.

I fixed him a drink and a favorite snack. “Tonight I think instead of movies, we’ll put the music on and just relax. Is that okay with you?” He didn’t answer; I hadn’t expected it.

Major Hastings was the best dog I’d ever had, and I’d had a lot of dogs in the forty years I’d spent in the woods. Hounds, retrievers, shepherds—I’d even had a poodle at one time, but we didn’t suit one another, and after a visiting niece fell in love with him, the poodle left me when the young girl did. The time since then had passed in the blink of an eye, measured not so much in months and years, but more in a litany of my dogs’ names and breeds.

Tory, the Rottweiler, came to an untimely end when he got too close to the she-bear that lived on the next hill crest. After him, Crystal spent some time with me, and the pair of beagles, Pudge and Peanut. But none had ever touched my heart so much as Major, and now I was losing him.

I didn’t know if I could face