A Message from Sonny

The text message came late at night. I was trying to sleep. It was three or four months into the ordeal and Sonny the husky was dead, cremated, ashes spread upon the ocean. Waves had demolished the driftwood fort I built in her honor. I never felt more alone in my life. I went on crying jags not about the death of myself, but because I couldn’t bear living without my friend of almost 17 years.

I purged the house of almost everything connected to her, including a short story collection by James Baldwin that contained a story called “Sonny’s Blues.” Sonny was named for that story, named by my ex-wife who picked the runt of a litter and enlarged both of our lives.

At some point, the grief became unendurable and I began talking to Sonny aloud as if she was still alive. This went on for weeks until a message arrived from a number I didn’t recognize.

I got up from bed and found the phone in the kitchen. The message said Sonny had communicated with the text’s sender to contact me. Sonny wanted to tell me that she was worried about me. That was it—worried.

The text message was from a prominent pet psychic in the Pacific Northwest. I didn’t believe in such things. Indeed, I scoffed. But here it was, my agony, my conversations in a forlorn empty house, and an unsolicited communication from somewhere in the region. I texted the psychic for clarification. The psychic clarified and did not follow up with any commercial solicitation promising more communications, a move I anticipated.

It was pitch black in the kitchen. I hadn’t bothered turning on the light. I stood there for a few moments and then set the phone on the counter. I went back to bed and thought. Sleep never found me.

A message from my departed dog? I believed it. I kept talking to Sonny but the conversations took on a different tenor; I reassured her, I said her multiple goofy nicknames in multiple goofy voices. I built a new driftwood fort for her.

I never heard from the psychic again.