I always want to take part in blog writing challenges, but I never do. When I saw the picture, and challenge to write a story under 750 words, over on Suzanne Burke Blog, a story came to me right away. Here is the link: FICTION IN A FLASH.
I am a slow writer. That doesn’t mean I’m slow at getting words down. It’s the process after or the arranging of the words, so they make sense. Editing is why I usually avoid challenges. This time the story wouldn’t let go, so I went with it and pushed the words around, trying to make sense accurately and quickly.
I’m also slow at processing my emotions as I try to comprehend them. I’m numb to what is going on around me right now and can’t put it in words yet. But this piece allowed me that final closure in losing our three pets last year over a small period. I dedicate this to them: Thunder, Alice, and Hermie.
It was our bench. I felt the familiar tug at my heart as I quickened my pace and maneuvered through the pungently earthy orange, red, and yellow leaves. I hated making this walk alone through the fall splendor.
I jumped when something brushed against my leg.
“Sorry. Lady escaped from her collar again.”
The pug sat at my feet with an amiable head tilt. I mumbled. “No problem.”
“She’s friendly if you want to pet her.”
I shook my head and stepped around the dog. Passing the brightly lit coffee shop that usually provided me with a latte, I kept going. Finally, I plopped down on a cold cement bench and was immediately greeted by a distant chorus of barking dogs.
A young boy burst through the door directly across the street. He was cradling a small black kitten.
“Can I name him Skitter, mom?”
As the mother agreed, I flashed back to the day I brought my kitten home from this animal shelter. Felix died right before his 18th birthday. I decided, after crying for two weeks, I didn’t want to go through that heartbreak again.
A wind kicked up, and the sun was sloping down. It was time for me to head home. I stood up to go but froze when a young couple exited the building with a small exuberant black lab just like… Tears flowed unchecked down my face. I missed my walking companion, Bessie. When I had to put her to sleep, after she lost her battle with cancer, it tore me apart holding her for the last time. My two constant companions were taken from me in only two months. Now, at sixty-five-years-old, I was not only a widow but petless too. With a heavy heart, I slowly made my way home.
The final one-hundred yards before turning into my driveway, I heard a muffled cry coming from a bush.
“Hello?” I called out, getting my keys ready to run inside.
It answered with a whimper.
I carefully pushed the branches aside and found a taped cardboard box.
My heart was racing as I ripped the box open and peered inside.
The yellow puppy barked and jumped on the side of the box with its tail wagging. I quickly scooped it up, and it nestled into my neck. The smaller black one wasn’t moving, and the black and yellow puppy could barely lift its head.
“You poor babies! What kind of monster would do this?”
I raced to my car and gently set the box down while still hanging on to the yellow puppy. My hand brushed over the black pup, finding no life, but the other pup let out a small sigh as I stroked its soft fur.
I dialed my vet and started the car, “I found some puppies in bad shape. Are you still open?”
“We just closed but bring them in, Marsha. We’ll wait.”
Soon the two puppies who had survived were on the vet’s examination table.
“They are around four weeks old and look like a shepherd/lab mix. It was lucky you found these two when you did. We will do everything we can for them and call you in the morning. Are you considering keeping them?”
I frowned. “I don’t think so, but I will pay for whatever they need.”
I spent a long night tossing and turning. Their sweet faces haunted me as well as the cruelly taped box. I knew I was meant to find them, but that didn’t mean I had to keep them. When the sun finally rose, I knew what I had to do.
The phone rang after breakfast. “Hi, Marsha. I’m sorry the boy didn’t make it, but the girl did. We will keep her here another night so we can monitor her, and we found someone to foster her so—”
I cut her off. “No, she has a home with me.”
A year later, Molly was proudly wearing her new pink collar. She yanked me toward our bench. Today we couldn’t sit there because a neighbor’s adolescent daughter had taken it over with a box of kittens that had a free sign taped to the side. Our walk was cut short when I locked eyes with a tiny black cat. We had found the missing member of our family and I had learned that having a pet’s love was worth any loss endured.
Embrace your inner child with a good story, and embrace each person’s soul that you meet along the way. D. L. Finn