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The dog had been there all day. Just waiting. At first I thought it was lost but its size and bulk was too much for me to handle at my age so I didn’t dare go out to try and see if it had a collar. As the days passed, I realized two things; that I was the only one able to see it and that it was coming closer to my house. People walked by it without a glance and once, someone actually walked through the animal.

It was then that I knew exactly what it was and why it kept watching my house.

“Nana?” Molly’s voice only stole my attention away from the window and the dog that continued to linger. She was my pride and joy, my only granddaughter out of eight grandchildren. I loved the boys dearly but I never had a girl of my own so I spent as much time with her as I could without making the other jealous.

“Yes darling?” In answer, she held up the picture that she had been drawing and I took it gently to study it. My chest filled with pride at the skill that shining through in her work. It was just a tree but there was a touch to it that promised of a bright future in art if she kept at it.

When you become as old as I do and spend all your time painting, you begin to notice such things.

Showering her with hugs and kisses that felt all too much like the last ones I would get to enjoy, I made sure to move all the other pictures that I had been given in the last week to the side so that her newest one could hang in the middle. To the kids, it was an honored spot but to me, the entire fridge was the honored spot. I cleared it weekly and tucked them all into my box of treasures.

After, I’d tell the kids that they’d have to make me new ones to cover my fridge with. Running my fingers over the drawings, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much I was going to be missing out on. I wouldn’t get to see them all grow up into the wonderful people that I knew they would be.

The youngest ones probably wouldn’t even remember me but I hoped that my sons would show them many pictures of me after I was gone.

Still, the dog could wait until my visit with my granddaughter was over. I spent the next hour doing anything and everything that Molly wanted, determined not to linger on the creature that was hovering just outside my living room window.

When her mother came to pick her up, I wasn’t ready to let her go. I gave her the biggest hug that I could manage and kissed her forehead before doing the same to my daughter in law. Telling her to give the boys my love was the best I was going to get besides the will which expressed my love and affection for my sons and their wives and their children.

When the door closed behind them, the whole room filled with a chilly silence. My throat tightened with a mix of fear and sadness as I turned around. Flickering just slightly, the black dog sat next to my favorite chair. He was waiting for me and there was no more avoiding him; it was time.

Not wanting to reflect on eighty years of life when the memories were already flashing in the back of my head, I slowly made my way over to sink down into the chair. As if understanding my hesitation, the ghost creature laid it’s head on the arm of my chair and wagged its tail.

From this close, it didn’t look as frightening as it had the first day and despite myself, my fingers reached out to run through the dark fur. It was softer than I imagined and soothing as well.

“Thank you,” I whispered, pleased that it had given me my last moments with my grandchild. I had grown up on stories of the ghost dog that was a herald for death. When the woman had walked through the dog a few days ago, the stories had resurfaced and I knew my time had come. Black dogs could be frightening but only to those who resisted and feared death.

My fear had disappeared once I realized what he was. That acceptance of my fate might have been the reason that he appeared to me now as a friendly apparition instead of a frightening creature.

The conversation was one sided as I stroked him. I told him about my family and mourned over the moments I would miss. As tears began to leak from my eyes without permission, he brushed his nose against my arm and for a moment, images of the future danced across my thoughts.

There would be hardship, for all of them, and more grandchildren that I’d never get to meet, but they’d all be happy. The tears came harder but they were no longer tears of sadness. I was glad to know that they’d all turn out alright.

The soothing motion of stroking the animal had allowed its powers to wash over me and I didn’t fight it. As my vision faded to a blurriness that had nothing to do with the tears, I whispered my gratitude to the black dog once more before giving into the sleep from which I knew I’d never awaken.

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In truth, Black Dog wasn’t actually the next creature. It was another type of water horse but I had kinda figured that y’all were tired of those. A short game of eeny meeny miny moe solved the new creature problem and ta da~ Now I’m off to bed! More after I wake up :3

Next Creature: Dryad

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