Possible reasons for going up Thaxby Hill were to stretch my legs or gaze out to sea. But today was different. Old Mark Bamber, who lived nearby, said he’d heard a dog barking up there at night for the past week.
Along the top is a spinney with numerous imposing trees. A thorough search revealed no dog, and there was nowhere else for one to hide.
Scanning the horizon with binoculars, I spotted the almost invisible white blur of a distant steamer. Sweeping back to land I saw someone running up the hill, a dumbbell in each hand.
He reached me, sweaty and panting, and dropped the weights. “Hello. I’ve never seen anyone up here before!”
“Nor me!” I laughed.
Amicably, he indicated landmarks on the horizon. “I used to come every day with my dog,” he said. “He died two years ago.”
“That’s sad. What was his name?”
“Titus, he was a Dalmatian. Me and my wife carried him up here. He’s buried in the spinney.”
“Wow! … Does your wife come up here?”
“No, she had cancer.”
“I’m really sorry.” The words sounded feeble. “Is she … OK now?”
Tears filled his eyes. “She passed away a week ago today.”

Featured in the book and audiobook, To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories

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