Acting Out

Acting Out by Laurie Halse Anderson Read Free Book Online

Book: Acting Out by Laurie Halse Anderson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Laurie Halse Anderson
Davidnods and goes to fetch the carrier from downstairs.
    Ashley and I finish setting up the stuffed-animal fence. It begins under the bed and makes a path for Rover to follow.
    David returns with the carrier and closes the door behind him. “So he doesn’t escape,” he explains.
    I guide Ashley away from the bed. “Stay beside me while David gets Rover, okay?” Ashley’s eyes are huge, but she just nods and holds the carrier, open and ready. David gets into position to move the bed. I’m crouched down with my hands ready to scoop Rover up as soon as he does. I sure hope this works.
    David counts, “One…two…three…” and he lifts. Rover is curled into a tight ball. The cat gets to his feet and looks around, but he’s stopped by the stuffed animals. I bend down and pick him up before he can figure out what’s going on. Ashley holds the carrier door open and I slip Rover in.
    “Whew. No problem at all.” David looks relieved.
    “Let’s head over,” I say.
    “Can I come? Can I come?” Ashley begs.
    “We couldn’t have done it without you. You’d better come,” David says. Then he turns to me and whispers, “I’m babysitting, she has to come.”
    True, there is nobody to stay with her here. Mrs. Hutchinson is still gone, and Brian hasn’t showed up, either. Looks like I wasted one of my best outfits on a tea party and a cat rescue.

Chapter Six

    I n the Dolittle Room, Gran checks Rover all over. She listens to his heartbeat and breathing with her stethoscope. Rover sleeps through this part. Gran gently feels every inch of him. I know she is checking his skeleton and also checking for any odd lumps or bumps he might have. She checks his reflexes, which wakes him up. The tapping of Gran’s tiny rubber hammer must be hard to ignore. She looks in Rover’s ears, eyes, and mouth with her scope. She’s checking for mites and signs of infection.
    “Will he be all right?” David asks worriedly. “Did his heart sound okay? His reflexes worked, right?”
    I put my hand on David’s elbow. He takes a deepbreath and stops asking questions. With my other hand, I squeeze Ashley’s shoulder. She’s being surprisingly quiet and well-behaved during the exam. Maybe doctor’s offices make her nervous.
    Gran continues her exam. She listens to Rover’s lungs and heart again.
    “I’m not sure what is making Rover so sluggish.” Gran flips her stethoscope back up around her neck. “I’m going to do some blood work to see if I can get some answers. I’d like to keep Rover overnight so I can keep an eye on him.”
    David looks pale. “Do you think it’s serious?”
    “When an animal suddenly becomes lethargic—that is cause for concern. Animals slow down as they age, just like people do. But Rover isn’t very old, so sudden changes in behavior absolutely need to be checked out.” Gran pats David on the shoulder.
    “What about antifreeze? Zoe said that kitten died from it.”
    “I’m including that test in the blood work.”
    I wish I could make David feel better. I turn to him and say reassuringly, “So it’s good you brought him in, then.” He looks at me and half-smiles.
    Gran picks up Rover. “David, do you want me to call your mother, or can you convey this all to her?”
    “I’ll tell her. It’s fine.” David scratches Rover under his chin, waves to me, and leaves the exam room. I see Ashley take David’s hand as they walk out of the clinic.
    Before we can finish sanitizing the exam room, we have an emergency. Seconds after we hear the jingle of the door and panicked voices, we rush out to reception. It’s a dog, vomiting and making a horrible crying sound. Gran passes Rover off to me. “Cage six, far from the kittens,” she says, turning to this new dog and taking him into the Herriot Room. I hear her send his family into the waiting room.
    I quickly put Rover in his cage, making sure to tuck a warm towel in with him. It’ll keep him warm and should comfort him, too. I latch the

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