He is ever alert to the sounds of her. Footsteps upstairs might mean she is coming. She may yet share the couch with him. He will lay his nose on her leg and sigh, tail thumping the upholstery in a contented rhythm. On frost-laden mornings she greets him and lets him out. He hears the honey in her voice and knows he is loved. He lies at her feet as she stares at the metal thing, always absorbed. If he is very still and quiet she might just stroke his head. It is enough to be close, shoehorned between the chair and the ottoman, her legs a ceiling above.
He runs with her even though he is small and far from athletic. He keeps pace and smiles up at her, tries to avoid the call of the tree trunks and dash onwards.
One day he feels an unease. Something slow and poisonous stains his blood, a fatigue grips him and stills him in his bed. On his walk, he tries to keep pace. The sun warms his back, his steps ponderous like the ticking of an unwound clock. As the pain worsens he still walks for her, tries to make it around the block.
His limbs tremble as he stands outside, a wonky sidestep into the garden, eyes unfocused, dazed. In the circling wind he hears a call. He is no longer present, but halfway to the other place. The quiet place where he is fearless, his body fat and strong, his ears pricked up. This is where he wants to be. But still. She speaks to him and holds him, tiny and weak in her hands. He is crying, but it is faint and she has to place her ear close.
In his last moments, he is happy. Wrapped in towels, his calm spirit hovers, knowing she is near. She has been the focus of his existence and even then, he listens for her as she goes from one room to another. Then he stretches out and answers the call.