The whole time I was working on him, I was talking to him. And he listened. I told him how we were alike. "See," I said, "you don't have any family and neither do I. I've got the preacher, of course. But I don't have a mama. I mean I have one, but I don't know where she is. She left when I was three years old. I can't hardly remember her. And I bet you don't remember your mama much either. So we're almost like orphans."
Winn-Dixie looked straight at me when I said that to him, like he was feeling relieved to finally have somebody understand his situation. I nodded my head at him and went on talking.
"I don't even have any friends, because I had to leave them all behind when we moved here from Watley. Watley's up in north Florida. Have you ever been to north Florida?"
Winn-Dixie looked down at the ground, like he was trying to remember if he had.
"You know what?" I said. "Ever since we moved here, I've been thinking about my mama extra-extra hard, more than I ever did when I was in Watley."
Winn-Dixie twitched his ears and raised his eyebrows.
"I think the preacher thinks about my mama all the time, too. He's still in love with her; I know that because I heard the ladies at the church in Watley talking about him. They said he's still hoping she'll come back. But he doesn't tell me that. He won't talk to me about her at all. I want to know more about her. But I'm afraid to ask the preacher; I'm afraid he'll get mad at me."
Winn-Dixie looked at me hard, like he was trying to say something.
"What?" I said.
He stared at me.
"You think I should make the preacher tell me about her?"
Winn-Dixie looked at me so hard he sneezed.
"I'll think about it," I said.
When I was done working on him, Winn-Dixie looked a whole lot better. He still had his bald spots, but the fur that he did have cleaned up nice. It was all shiny and soft. You could still see his ribs, but I intended to feed him good and that would take care of that. I couldn't do anything about his crooked yellow teeth because he got into a sneezing fit every time I started brushing them with my toothbrush, and I finally had to give up. But for the most part, he looked a whole lot better, and so I took him into the trailer and showed him to the preacher.
"Daddy," I said.
"Hmmm," he said. He was working on a sermon and kind of muttering to himself.
"Daddy, I wanted to show you the new Winn-Dixie."
The preacher put down his pencil and rubbed his nose, and finally, he looked up.
"Well," he said, smiling real big at Winn-Dixie, "well, now. Don't you look handsome."
Winn-Dixie smiled back at the preacher. He went over and put his head in the preacher's lap.
"He smells nice, too," said the preacher. He rubbed Winn-Dixie's head and looked into his eyes.
"Daddy," I said, real quick before I lost all my nerve, "I've been talking to Winn-Dixie."
"Is that right?" the preacher said; he scratched Winn-Dixie's head.
From Because of Winn-Dixie. Copyright (c) 2000 Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
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