Stepping out from the fence like a pair of ice skaters onto an ice skating rink; Sue and daughter Stacey joined the busy and slightly chaotic frenzy of the off leash dog park.
“Time to let Mollie off darling” mum suggested.
Stacey is unsure “Do you think it’s safe?” She looks about quickly, “I guess so.” Unclipping the lead, Mollie, their two year old labradoodle sprints off to make new friends.
“Step it up!” Stacey calls to her mum. “We’ve got four kilos to loose by Christmas! Five laps every week and we’ve earned an ice-cream.”
Mum caught up quickly, dodging a poodle which tried to run between her legs. “How will ice-cream helps to lose kilos.”
“Motivation! You’re right let’s make it ten laps.” A Dobermann flashed past, chasing a ball. Mollie chased courageously after it.
“We should do this every week Stacey.” Mum said, looking across the crowd of owners. “Lots of nice looking men here darling.”
“Mum, stop it! I’m not interested. I’ve sworn off men.”
She knew her daughter was hurting from her recent breakup but she was keen to see her over it. “At twenty-two? Don’t let one bad apple put you off. It took me a lot of work to find and train your father”
Stacey sighed “Yes, dad’s adorable but he’s taken. Also things have changed now mum. Boys are different. Everyone I meet seems to think spare time is for computer games or drinking beer with their mates in front of the TV. You’d need to set the house on fire just to get them outside. I mean even if he went fishing it would be better. Besides Josh didn’t even like dogs!”
“Oh my baby, forget him! You’ll find your man.”
Mollie bounds up, sniffs Stacey’s hand once and runs off to make friends with a large German Shepard. The two dogs take turns chasing each other. The Shepard’s owner looks on smiling.
“How about him?” Stacey’s mum suggests.
“Keep you voice down, mum!” Stacey whispers horrified.
“Let’s say hello.” She walks toward Mollie and her knew friends. Stacey groans inwardly but follows. The man is tall, handsome, mid twenties and is smiling paternally as he watches his dog playing with Mollie
“Looks like they’ve made friends” Stacey’s mum says to the man.
“Hi.” he answers laughing “Yes, best friends. One sniff and they knew they were meant for each other.” He smiles at Stacey as she joins them. She smiled back despite herself then turned her head down quickly to watch the dogs.
“Do you come here often?” Stacey’s mum asked the man.
The man laughed gently and that gorgeous smile was back. “Well if I don’t, Rufus nags me until I do, It’s his Sunday treat. On Saturdays we go to the beach. There’s only me to take him out so I can’t let him down ” he ruffled Rufus’s head.
“How perfect!’ Mum bends over to pat the Shepard, looking slyly up at Stacey.
Stacey frowned and looking impatiently at her watch and says quickly, “Let’s keep walking mum, ten laps we agreed.”
Stacey’s mum plays dumb. “Ten laps, did we say that?”
“Yes remember that’s our pact. Come on Mollie, bye.” She clips Mollie’s lead on and they walk off across the grass.
Stacey says through gritted teeth, “When do mothers get old enough to stop embarrassing their children?”
“Never darling, it’s a gift”.
Chatting and people watching, they quickly finished their laps and headed for the gate. Just before passing through, Molly starts barking and tugging franticly at the lead. There waiting at the gate was her new friends.
”Hello again” says mum.
“Oh hi! Finished your laps? Well I must be off” he says “I’m taking my nephews fishing.”
“Do you like fishing?” mum asks
“Yes and the best thing is my the boys love it too and it give my sister a break. She’s a single mum. I love kids so it’s a perfect fit.”
Mum pinches Stacey gently. Stacey ignores it.
He looked at Stacey, “Do you like fishing Stacey?”
“No. I mean yes.” She laughed nervously. “I mean sometimes.”
Stacey thought she better keep her mouth shut.
He looked up at the sky. “I love being out there when the sum comes up. So peaceful.”
“Very nice to meet you both” His eyes lock onto Stacey’s for just a moment, that gorgeous smile. There was warmth in his eyes, lighting up his face. He seemed about to say something but then change his mind.“Bye” he walks off with the dog.
Stacey’s mum turns to her quickly and nudged her “Taking his nephew fishing? What a catch! Quick say something, he’s going!”
“No mum!” Stacey is cross. “You go out with him if your so keen”
“Oops silly me!” mum says. Mollie who was being held by her, is off the leash, bounding after them.
“Oh mum!” Stacey runs after the dog. Mum watches as Stacey catches up and as she clips on Molly’s lead, sees her talk briefly to the man.
Mum “Well what happened? ”
“He asked for my phone number”
Stacey looks at the ground with a frown. “I told you, it’s just too soon for me. Josh really confused me. I thought he was right but he ended up being just another dopey guy.”
Mum gives her a hug. “OK then what’s it to be: chocolate or shopping?”
“Both!” Stacey answers. They both laugh.
Walking on, she looks up at her mum smiling mischievously, “Anyway he said he’d be back next week, just like us.”