The morning after the thunderstorm, Sam put on his rain boots and ran out into the muddy garden. After the early frost, mom had left the garden clean up until spring. So there were bits of vines and late vegetables strewn here and there, peeking from the slush left from the snowstorm earlier in the week.
In the back corner there had been a watermelon vine. The last watermelon hadn’t ripened in time to be picked. Sam stomped through the mud to look at it again. But it wasn’t there.
Instead, there was a green puppy. It was light green with darker green stripes running down its sides and back. It wagged its tail when it saw Sam and barked. It ran in a circle around him and then it put its muddy paws on his leg and barked again.
Wow! Sam had always wanted a puppy. He bent over and started petting the puppy. He scratched behind its ears. The puppy wagged its tail and twisted away.
It started chewing on the garden hose. “No, Puppy,” Sam said. He tried throwing a stick for it to chase. The puppy’s tail grew, vine-like, and caught the stick. It kept chewing on the hose.
“That was weird, Puppy,” Sam said. “Don’t do that.” The puppy dropped the stick and wagged its short-again tail. It raced off after a bird.
The bird flew up and perched on a bush. The puppy raced into the bush. Sam could hear branches breaking. “Stop, Puppy, stop,” he said.
The puppy didn’t listen. The bird flew off. Puppy spit little black seeds after it. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa. So weird. Sam laughed. “Do that again Puppy,” he said. The puppy wagged its tail.
It pounced on him again. Sam looked down at the muddy paw prints. “Puppy, you need a bath,” he said.
He wrapped puppy in his coat and carried him into the house. “Mom, I found a puppy.”
Sam’s mom came down stairs. “Oh, poor thing. Is he covered in paint? You should give him a bath,” she said.
“Okay,” Sam said. Puppy jumped in the bathtub as soon as the water was running. It wagged its tail and looked like it was smiling.
“Isn’t that cold, Puppy?” Sam asked. He turned up the hot tap. The water began to warm up. Puppy growled and tried to bite the faucet.
Sam turned off the hot tap. The water ran cold again. The puppy wagged its tail. “Cold it is, then,” Sam said.
Puppy didn’t like the soap either. He picked it up with his vine tail and tossed it at the wall. He started drinking the cold bath water, and he started getting bigger.
“I’m not sure that’s a good thing,” Sam said.
Mom came in. “Did the paint come off?” She asked. She looked at the green puppy. “You might want to use soap.”
“I think it’s not really a puppy,” Sam said. “I think it’s our watermelon.”
“That doesn’t really make sense, Sam.” Mom picked up the soap. “Why is the soap over here?” When she walked over to the bathtub, the puppy’s vine tail snatched up the soap and tossed it again.
“See, it’s a watermelon. Maybe lightning hit it last night or something,” Sam said.
“It still doesn’t make sense,” Mom said. She started scrubbing the puppy clean with a washcloth. The puppy drank more water and grew a little more. “Bath’s done,” she said. Mom pulled the plug and put the puppy on the counter. She started toweling him dry as the bathtub drained.
“Can we keep him?” Sam asked.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” Mom said. “But if he is our watermelon, I guess we are responsible for him.”
“It’ll be great, you’ll see,” Sam said. The puppy spit black seeds at the mirror. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa. Mom looked at Sam. “See? Pretty funny,” Sam said.
Mom looked at the puppy. He wagged his tail. “I still think this is a bad idea,” she said.