She knew she’d hit something. But what? She saw the shape suddenly jumping or running right in front of her car. Oh no! Her heart was racing while she got out of the car. Maybe it was just her imagination. Maybe it was the fog and the darkness setting in. Maybe she did not hit anything. Maybe it was just the fog. But she felt it too. She slowly made her way to the front of the car. And then her heart froze. There it was.
The headlights revealed the animal on the ground. Yes, she had seen something run in front of her. Yes, she had hit something. It lay so still.
Kate looked closer, trying to see in the fog what had run in front of her car. Was it a cat? It was about the size of one. Oh no! she thought. It can’t be. Tears formed in her eyes. She hated the thought that she may have killed someone’s pet. She looked around at the houses. Perhaps she could find out who it belonged to.
She started to stand, and then squealed. The animal was moving, as if being pulled away, rather than moving on its own. She watched for a moment as it was being pulled toward the curb. Then she heard laughter.
She looked up at two boys on the curb, pulling the animal away from her car. She started toward them, but they dropped the rope they were pulling and ran into the closest house. The “animal” was by her feet. She bent down and looked closely at it. It almost looked real, but it was only a plastic stuffed animal. Angry, she reached down and picked it up. Some child’s toy.
The door of the house where the boys had run opened and a woman came out. She came over to Kate. “Are you alright? I thought I heard a scream.”
Kate held up the animal. “Yes, I did scream. This ‘ran’ in front of my car and I hit it.Does this belong to your son?” she asked, trying to sound civil.
The woman took the toy. “Why, that looks like my daughter’s. She has been looking for it. And yes, I do have a son.” She frowned. “Why don’t you turn off the lights on your car and come in with me. I want you to meet someone.”
Kate pulled her car a little closer to the curb and turned off the lights. She followed the woman into the house.
The woman called a girl’s name. A young girl came and squealed with she saw the toy in Kate’s hand. She reached for it, but the woman stopped her.
“Wait a minute, honey. Your brother has to come here first.”
A boy appeared from the other room. He grimaced when he saw the toy in Kate’s hand. His mother put her hands on her hips. “Carl, is this your doing?”
Carl hung his head. “We were just having some fun. Dan and I put a string on it and threw it in front of her car, that’s all.” He looked down at the ground.
“You apologize to this lady. You could have caused her to have an accident. We will find an appropriate punishment for you. If Dan is here, tell him he has to go home. You two will not be playing together for awhile.”
Head still down, Carl spoke. “I’m sorry, Ma’am.”
Memories of her own brother’s pranks filled Kate’s mind. “Apology accepted,” she said.
Carl left the room and the woman turned back to Kate. “I am so sorry. Would you like a cup of coffee?”
Kate handed the animal to the little girl and smiled at her. “Yes, I would like that.”
As they drank coffee, Kate remembered and shared the memories of her own brother’s pranks. “I guess God put mischief in children!”
“Thank you,” the woman said, sighing. “He isn’t a bad boy, just mischievous! But I want him to realize that some of his pranks could do damage.”
As Kate drove home, she was relieved that it hadn’t been an animal that had leapt in front of her car. She was glad he hadn’t gotten away with his prank. She smiled. “Perhaps Carl will turn out as great as my mischievous brother.” She pulled into the garage and went into the house, glad the day was over.
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