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Painting My Heart - Chapter Two

Chapter Two. Nevie finds out more about Colby.
Small town's gossip. It's a fact. Everyone knows it and everyone does it. They just can't help it. Nevie understood. She'd felt the nosiness herself. Having neighbors living so close to you just turns you into a nosy busybody. But understanding the nosiness and curiosity doesn't change the sense of betrayal you begin to feel when the gossip is about you. The hushed snippets of conversation suddenly don't seem as okay to you as they might have before. You hear your voice carried in whispers as you walk down the street, or through the local store. You feel the stares as you go to school and there's nothing you can do about it but try to hold your head high, hoping one day something new and more exciting than you will come along.

For a town this small, it seemed nothing more shocking could happen. Nevie couldn't help but feel a twinge of anger in her heart as she walked up her front porch steps, knowing her closest neighbor, an older lady named Janine would be peeking out her heavily curtained windows, just watching and waiting for something new. Slamming the door behind her only gave Nevie a slight feeling of relief from the anger and she dropped onto her couch with a sigh. 'Maybe tomorrow,' she told herself. Maybe tomorrow she could bring herself to go to the gravesite. But then again, she'd told herself that every day since the funeral and so far it had been impossible for her to get past the gate. Yesterday she'd made it the farthest. Before she always stopped at the long driveway.

Spending the afternoon with Colby had seemed to help. For the first time in the past three months she had felt as though she could breathe fully. The nagging sense of loneliness, guilt and despair that plagued her daily had somehow vanished and she'd found herself smiling and actually enjoying herself. The respite from the grief only lasted until she got home and she had collapsed onto her bed, falling into a deep, restless sleep full of agonizingly painful dreams that were more like memories. She'd woken up crying and knew that the pain was far from over.

Nevie shook her head, trying to remove the thoughts from her mind. A part of her had hoped that Colby would be at the cemetery and maybe they could spend more time together. The other part of her had hoped just as strongly that he wouldn't be there, although she didn't know why she felt that way. Maybe it was due to the guilt she had felt at being happy, maybe it wasn't. She didn't understand it, whatever it was, but she hadn't understood much of anything during the past months anyway. The part of her that wanted to see Colby won and she got up, deciding she'd walk to his house. Even if it made her feel guilty, knowing she could spend a few enjoyable hours made her hurry out of her house and down the few streets to his.

She stared down his driveway, suddenly feeling nervous. It would be weird if she just walked up and knocked on his door. 'I can't just go up there and be like, hey want to hangout?' Her heart sank as she walked past his driveway to the end of the street. 'Maybe I can just walk back by his house and he'll be outside and he'll see me, and have me come over.' With a small grin, delighted by her devious plan, she headed back past his house.

But he wasn't outside and she found herself at the other side of his street, wondering again what she should do. The only answer to that question seemed to be obvious. She should walk back down the street. After she passed his house a few more times, she realized that he just wasn't going to be outside anytime soon.

She rallied up the ounce of determination she had and practically marched back to his house. Taking a deep breath as she stood by his mailbox, she walked down his driveway and up his porch steps. She knocked on the door quickly, before she could change her mind and then waited anxiously and nervously for it to be opened.

"I was waiting to see how many times you'd pass by before you finally got here." Colby leaned against the frame after opening the door, with a smile on his face.
Nevie turned pink and she glanced down at the ground. "I didn't know if it'd be weird that I just showed up. It took me a little while to convince myself to just get up here."
He chuckled and stepped outside, shutting the door behind him. "I wasn't judging. Just telling you what I thought." He caught hold of her hand and started to pull her down the driveway. "Come on, I want you to meet someone."

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The barking of dogs greeted Nevie and Colby as they walked into the Salmon Falls Animal Shelter. The receptionist looked up as they walked in and smiled. "Hey Colby." She had a bright, cheerful voice. "It's been a few days. They miss you. I can tell." She stood up and walked around the desk, reaching a hand out to shake Nevie's.
"Nevie, this is Leslie. Leslie, Nevie." Colby happily introduced them as they shook hands. Leslie had dirty blonde hair pulled back in a braid and she looked like she couldn't be older than 25. She smiled brightly at the two of them.

"Come on. They know you're here." She led them through a door to a back room filled with kennel cages and then through that to another door. "They're all outside right now, enjoying the beautiful day." She pushed open the door and Nevie followed her outside. A dozen dogs came sprinting at her, almost knocking her over in their haste to be petted. An 'aww' escaped her lips as the dogs eagerly ran in circles around the three of them. Leslie scooped up a small black Scottish Terrier and planted a kiss on his nose. Her smile dimmed as she let him down and watched him trot away.

"That's Moon Shadow. He's been with us for about two months now. We haven't had many adoptions recently and nobody seems to want him. My supervisor told me yesterday that we may need to find another shelter to transfer him to and if none of the shelters nearby have room for him, he may need to be euthanized."
Colby frowned. "I didn't know that this wasn't a 'no-kill' shelter."

Leslie sighed, still watching Moon Shadow play with the other dogs. "We've never had to euthanize an animal before that wasn't, you know, already dying. Obviously the ultimate goal of the Humane Society and all animal shelters is to operate as a 'no-kill' facility. Humane euthanasia is still performed at our shelter right now, simply because more animals are turned in to us than are adopted, and, even though I hate it, there's just no space for so-called 'unwanted' animals. We've tried everything, signs, posters, ads, you name it, to try to keep every animal from being euthanized. Unless, obviously, being euthanized is the humane thing to do, in cases where the animal is either too injured, or sick to be helped, and being euthanized will end their suffering. But, still, I don't want to lose Moon Shadow. I'd adopt him if I could, but my apartment doesn't allow pets."

Leslie frowned and turned to Colby. "You don't think you could convince your mom to let you have a dog, do you?"
Colby shook his head, staring dejectedly at all the barking dogs. "I wish."
Nevie leaned down to rub one of the larger dog's head and Leslie turned to her. "What about you? Think your parents would let you have a dog?" Nevie stood up straight and stared at Leslie for a second.
"Maybe. I could ask them tonight, if I see them."
Nobody seemed to catch the 'if' in her sentence and Leslie beamed. "You are the best! If they say yes would you be interested in taking Moon Shadow? Or any of the dogs, really. That would give us enough space to keep the dogs."
Nevie smiled and nodded. "If they say yes, I would so love to have one of these dogs. Especially Moon Shadow."

A few hours later she sat on Colby's front porch with him, sipping on sour lemonade. "I know Leslie can be a bit overbearing about the whole adopt a dog thing. If you don't want to, you don't have to, you know that right?"
"Are you kidding?" Nevie's gaze traveled to his face and he grinned when he saw her smile. "I can't believe I never thought about adopting a dog from a shelter before. I'll be begging my parents until they say yes. I want Moon Shadow so badly. He's so cute and I just love his name." She ducked her head a bit when she realized he was staring at her, looking slightly amazed.

"Do I have something on my face?"
He shook his head with what she decided she would call the 'Colby grin' on his face. "No. You're just amazing."
She couldn't stop the blush that crept up onto her cheeks and she turned away, trying her hardest not to smile. "You're a dork."
He faked a pout. "I am not a dork. A dork is actually somebody who's dull, slow-witted or socially inept."
"Hmm, I didn't know that. So, yeah, you're right. You're not a dork. You're a dictionary."

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Do you want me to post pictures of the characters?
Yes - Nevie first.
Yes - Colby first.
No, I like to imagine them for myself.
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Published: 3/30/2013
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