Summary: For the love_bingo challenge, prompt "Heavenly Love". Holiday waited, but Susie never came home.
Author's Note: It's been a while since I've read this book, but it occurred to me that it might provide a good chance to break out of my Smallville-Supernatural-Vampire Diaries postings for love_bingo.
Disclaimer: I don't own The Lovely Bones. It belongs to Alice Sebold.
Holiday knew he was dying.
He didn't understand death in the sense that he would pass from one plane of existence to another. He didn't understand it in the sense that his body would stop working, but his soul would keep living. He didn't understand that he would no longer be with his family, with Lindsey and Buckley and Jack and Lynn. All he understood was that something was happening to him, and that soon something would change. Something would be over. He just didn't understand what, precisely.
It was much the same way that he didn't understand when Susie disappeared. For Holiday, there was a certain consistency to life: His family left the house, stayed away for hours, and then his family came home. Sometimes they came back with food. Other times they came back with things for him to chew on. But they always came back, sooner or later.
The day that Susie didn't come back, Holiday knew something was wrong. Susie left in the morning and came home in the afternoon. Every day. Some days a little later, some days a little earlier, while other days she didn't leave at all. But in the end, she always came back, rubbed him on the head, played with him, and then sat with him and watched TV or on her bed in her room.
Holiday knew something was wrong because Abigail and Jack knew something was wrong. He heard Susie's name exchanged between them, and their voices were frantic and distressed. Susie didn't come home, but many other people, strangers came to the house. Holiday growled at some of them, but was summarily ignored. Susie's name was used many, many times.
He knew something was wrong because when Susie didn't come home, everyone started crying. Lindsey was withdrawn, solemn. Abigail started crying at unexpected moments. Jack got angry a lot. Lynn was always distracted. Buckley was the only one who didn't totally change: He kept right on talking about Susie like she was still there.
And so Holiday assumed that Susie was coming back, because why would he believe any different? Susie always came back home. Always.
He waited for years, growing older and fatter and slower. The children got bigger, Abigail left home, and Susie still didn't come back. There came a time when he couldn't run so much anymore because it made his legs tremble with the effort. He couldn't eat too much anymore because his stomach wasn't processing it correctly. Everything became a great effort, and Holiday soon took to staying on his bed for the majority of the day.
"What's wrong, boy?" Buckley asked, concerned, when Holiday couldn't muster the strength one day to go for his dinner across the kitchen.
"Holiday's an old man now, son." Jack said with a small smile. "Old men need their rest."
Indeed they did, because Holiday was tired. Very tired. More tired than he had ever been, even after long runs with Susie and Lindsey and Buckley. More tired than he'd been after he'd gotten out of the house and chased that cat up and down the neighborhood for a few hours before Jack could drag him back inside.
Yes, now was a time for sleep. Now was a time to be relaxed and let go. The change was coming, and he no longer had the energy to fight it. The only thing that had kept him going thus far was the fact that Susie had not come home yet. He had wanted to wait for Susie; but he couldn't anymore.
Holiday shut his eyes for the last time.
Holiday was in a field. There were other dogs around him, running with him. There was the brief moment of confusion, the transition from his bed in his home to an open field with other dogs threw him off.
But he felt better. Much better, in fact- More alive than he'd ever felt. Where his limbs had burned with an ache that had gotten slowly worse over the years, suddenly they were pain-free. His sense of smell was better, as was his sense of taste- he could taste the grass as he smelled it, as the wind pushed it into him. His hearing was better. His eyesight was better.
His ears perked up.
He knew that voice. He would know that voice anywhere, could set it apart from a crowd of millions. That was the voice that had called him for dinner, the voice that had laughed when he rolled on his back and wriggled around in the grass. He hadn't heard it in so, so long, but he knew that voice.
She was standing some distance away, eyes bright and excited, as happy to see him as she ever was when she went away and came back. She waved her arms, but she'd had every ounce of his attention the moment she'd spoken.
Holiday bounded forward, barking happily, and tackled Susie to the ground.
So that was the problem: Susie didn't need to come home to him.
He needed to come home to her.