The three year old girl carefully tip-toed across her rural home's front porch in a sear-sucker jumper and hunched down next to her black Dachshund. She tightly hugged his head snug against her's in an embrace of strictest confidence.
A concerned look came over her face as she removed her pacifier and looked out off the plank-wood porch into the dandelion spattered yard.
Crouching made the legs of her jumper deflate and completely cover her strap-sandals. The stubby-legged dog's eyes widened and sparkled at the sound of the child's soft, whispering voice.
"Corky, shhh. Corky I loves you Corky." then quieter and quickly, "I love you." Her timid-toned words were spoken under the dog's long floppy ears. The animal shifted a front paw.
"Corky, I gots a secret I want to tell you." She went on, her eyes furtively scanning the yard.
"I don't want nobody but you and me to know it." She nestled the neck of the Doxie closer.
The house where she lived was shingle-sided and baked dry from years of southern exposure. The window frames were peeling, and the floor boards cupped and peaked across the length of the porch. High temperature and steaming humidity seemed to melt the dog and child together, into a small huddled lump. Summer’s air curled the young girl's sun-blonde hair in damp wisps.
"Corky, I loves you and it's just me and you here." Her words became softer still. The dog's shiny nose pushed moist into her hand as she let him lick her pacifier.
The dog didn't move a muscle even though the child's hands were clutching his fur, pulling at the hairs.
"I found sumpthin' Corky, I wants to share with you." The Dachshund marched his front paws and perked his ears.
The young girl heard a muted buzzing and watched bumble bees bob between yellow-topped weeds. The sun climbed to it's noon position and the verdant morning grass dulled in color. Through the front screen door at the middle of the porch, the girl could hear the clicking of her grandmother's knitting needles mixed between the creaking sounds of her rocking chair.
"Com'on Corky, I found sum'pin' hiding behind the kitchen, com'on." The little girl rose up and led the dog by his leather collar off the porch and around the side of the house. The two waddled in tandem the width of the house, past the sloping cellar doors, past the rain barrel and around the back corner to the home's back stoop. There, setting on a cane woven chair was a tin containing a massive cherry pie, set out to cool after baking.
The Dachshund released a short 'ruff' upon seeing and smelling the pie. "SHHhhhhh, Corky, shush. Momma and Granny is gonna hear you." The little girl looked carefully around the corner of the house, then pulled the dog's head against her rounded cheek.
"This pie is just for us Corky."
The girl's cherub-like legs waded through the wispy grass that came past her waist and led her pet by one floppy ear over to the stoop that held the chair and tempting pie.
With some difficulty she looped her arms around the dogs elongated middle and struggled to lift the front half of him to the stoop. Corky helped by hopping with his back legs.
The girl crawled up behind the dog and the two of them sat with their eyes just level with the cooling pie.
"I'll feed you Corky, 'cause I loves you." said the girl as she crumbled off a piece of flaky crust and let the bristled muzzle of the Dachshund quickly gobble the morsel.
"Now it's my turn." The child broke a piece off for herself that contained cherry filling across it's bottom edge. As she stuffed it into her mouth some of the filling juice dribbled down her chin. The eager Doxie quickly licked-up the running nectar and made the little girl giggle.
Behind the screened kitchen window, the girl's mother and grandmother tried to stifle giggles of their own as they watched the pair of pie thieves at work.