The dog looked up from his basket in the car where he’d been sleeping next to me . ‘Are we there yet?’ He asked.
I was surprised, his timing was pretty close, we had about twenty minutes left to drive before we would get home.
‘I see you’re still listening to that German stuff, the whistle at the start of the track woke me up…. Again.’
His left ear raised up accusingly for a second before flopping back down again into the usual position just above his eye.
‘Yes, don’t you like it?’
‘It’s ok. All a bit vague sometimes though, what’s all that shark business about?’
I was surprised again. I didn’t know that he understood any German and pondered my reply for a moment.
‘Anyway. While you’re thinking about that, do you want to talk about the last few days ?’
His ear raised itself up again as he asked and I understood that this was the real question here.
‘OK, what do you want to know? ‘
‘All of it. Why did we leave? Where did you disappear to for half a day? Are we going home now? Will there be sossidges?’
I thought about this for a second while he hummed along to the chorus of ‘Engel’ , baring his teeth to the line ‘Gott weiß, ich will kein Engel sein’
There was no chance of that for either of us, so I grinned back at him and started speaking.
‘Well, we’ve been locked down for quite some time now and I’ve been looking at the stats and judging those carefully against my own interpretation of where we are… and I decided a week or so ago that it was time to see my Dad again.’
The ear lifted in silent question, so I carried on.
‘You’ve never seen him, but I may take you next time, not that you’ll see much either. Anyway, he lives 230 miles from me and I last saw him a week before the Lockdown kicked in and he hasn’t left his little flat since. We’re lucky that we can still go and hide out in the other house so that we didn’t have to do it all in one day.’
His eyebrows lifted. Three hours in the car was more than enough for him, even with my tuneful singing-along to Germanic rock music. ‘So why did you go? Is he sick ? Are you sick? Why? Why now? ‘
‘No. No. Nobody’s sick, not me. Not him. Nobody. It was just time to do it.’
‘Did you miss him that much then? ‘
‘No. Not really. I speak to him quite often. He just hasn’t been able to leave his flat for sixty days and there’s not much of a view for him. Or his cat.
Both ears pricked up now and he looked around quickly… I smiled at his reaction and carried on driving through the roadworks on the M6
‘There’s no cat here. Idiot. My dad has a cat that never manages to get out of the flat either, although i suspect she’d like to, I can’t imagine that it’s much fun being locked up with him 24×7.’
His left ear flopped again and he rested his head onto the centre console and gazed up at me with his huge amber eyes. I smiled fondly at him and stroked one of his velvety ears as I continued driving.
‘Anyway. I made the judgement call around a week ago that we’d make the trip and that I’d accept the risks for me.’
‘Risks?’ The ear raised briefly again and he continued looking up at me.
‘Risks of me catching the virus – that was acceptable, there was no risk to my dad as I stood outside his window. Risks of having an accident, risks of getting stuck if lockdown increased. That sort of thing… And… all of those risks were acceptable.’
‘If he’d been ill, would you still have gone?’
‘Yes… Much earlier, there’s the rules and there’s what’s right. The rules change all the time and it’s for each of us to work out what we can live with and more importantly what we can’t. I wanted to go this time to show my Dad that we’re still out here and we care. Everybody else has to make their own minds up, but they’re not my concern. We do what’s right for us in the moments that we have and we live with those decisions and their outcomes – for good or bad. We can’t go back or second guess. We keep moving forward…’
The ear lifted again.
‘Sort of like that German shark then?’
He dozed off again, leaving me to concentrate on driving.