Stray Dog

There once was a girl who wanted to be a stray dog. Stray dog would be better than being owned. Better than sleeping outside. Better than being starved. Better than being on a chain. Better than being beaten. Living as a stray dog on the streets would be better than this.

One night there was a storm. He was out in the yard beating her, chain in one hand, the other free. Flashes of lightening, raging across the sky, blinding him. She pulled with her hands at the chain, heels digging into the dirt. Good girls didn’t fight, good dogs didn’t bite. The beating continued until another flash of lightening. He paused to look into the distance. It would rain soon. Now was her chance. Snarling, she dove forward into his chest, knocking him over. he dropped the chain. Scrambling to her feet she ran, hoping he wouldn’t catch hold of her. He didn’t. She heard him screaming and cussing as she jumped the fence and ran down the street.

Just as she always dreamed. The gravel beneath her feet, the chain dragging behind her, the wind whipping her hair. The reality of the situation, that it even was reality, refused to set in. She ran desperately—tears or fear and stress streaming down her face. Then gradually, slowly, the knot in her chest was replaced with something else. She ran and ran and ran until her lungs burned and legs strained with the effort, and still she ran on and on. Behind her the storm grew, growling at the sky holding it back. Soon it would break free and trample the earth beneath it, just as she was.  

Yes, stray dog was better.

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Taken

“Hey Mista?”

 

“What?”

 

“Where was it you’s said we were goin’?”

 

“To look for my puppy.” The man answered for the hundredth time.

 

“Are you sure we gonna find him?” The little boy asked.

 

“I’m sure we’re going to find something.”

 

“Cuz’ I’ve been lookin’, an’ I ain’t seen nothing. And I’m hungry.”

 

“I heard you the first time.”

 

“Ain’t you got something to eat?”

 

“No.” Came the rude reply.

 

“What chu’ say you’re dog looked like?”

 

“He’s brown.”

 

“Is that him?” Screeched the child, pounding on the glass for impact.

 

“No!” Snapped the man, grabbing the young boy by the arm. “Just sit down and be quiet!”

 

“You’re no fun…” Pouted the boy, folding his arms with a huff.

 

The man’s eyebrow twitched uncontrollably before he slapped a hand atop it. Why had he done this again? He glanced over at the thin body of the boy. Oh yes. Driving around mid-afternoon, he’d passed a park full of children. It had been easy enough to pick out a suitable target. Hearing his sad story, the boy had been more than willing to follow him to the ends of the earth for his long lost puppy. It was hardly a challenge anymore. He was a pro after all.

 

Sleazily, he gripped the steering wheel tighter and turned a corner. Almost there now, just a little longer…

 

“So’s there’s this girl in my class right?” Broke the boy. “An’ she likes me, but I don’t know if she really likes me likes me, or if she just likes me. I as’ her once, but she jus’ ran off to the sand box.” Confided the boy.

 

“And?” Asked the man, hunched over the steering wheel in a pitiful attempt to shield himself from the boy’s attention.

 

“So what do ya’ think?” Asked the boy, throwing up his hands in a dramatic way.

 

“Think of what?”

 

“Do you think she likes me? I get al’ shy around her…”

 

“Hard to imagine.” Whispered the man under his breath.

 

“She’s awful nice when she wants to be. But she’s mean too. I wanted to play a game, and she said she would, but when time came she ditched meh.”

 

“That’s… awful.”

 

“Do you think I should give her something for Valentine’s Day? Bobby, he’s the one who sits on my left, say’s I should forget her. He said she was runnin’ around with Dylan just last week! But I’m not sure. I don’t remember seeing her with Dylan, and I would know cuz’ I was watchin’.”

 

“How old are you?” Begged the man.

 

“What’s back here?” A pair of legs dangled over the back of the passenger seat, kicking at odd angles.

 

“Sit down!”

 

To someone walking along the sidewalk it would have appeared that a grimy white van was driving itself down the street in that moment. The driver of said van was far too busy trying to wrangle a young child to be worried about steering.

 

With a short screech and a sudden stop, the van parked itself in the in the middle of the road.

 

“Get out!” The man yelled, throwing open the side door. “You’re more trouble than you’re worth!” Tossing the young boy onto the street he stomped his foot on the gas, slamming shut the door with force as he sped away.   

 

“What a weirdo!” Dusting himself off, the young boy couldn’t help but smile as he looked back on the past ten minutes. “Works every time.” Smoothing his hair, he turned on his heels and headed back to school. He had obligations after all. 

Heat Wave

It was official. My city had become Hell on Earth.

 

The intense heat wave that plagued my city showed no sign of letting up. Every day my grandma prayed for rain then fried an egg. There was no relief in sight.

 

One morning, early because no one could sleep through the night without losing half their body weight in sweat, she gave me some money and sent me to the store for ice. School was canceled for the third day straight. It wouldn’t look good for the superintendent if, without air conditioning in the dilapidated building, students passed out in class after all. Best to let them pass out at home instead.

 

Grabbing my skate board I jumped off my stoop and headed out, the family’s precious dollars clutched in my slick palms. Kicking along, I started to hum a tune I’d heard on the radio earlier in the week. Not many people were outside except those determined to fight the heat and enjoy life regardless of health advisories. I, personally, did not think that was a very well thought out plan.

 

I pushed past a group of men on the corner of my block, standing around drinking beer in the middle of the day. One of them, the most drunken it seemed, flagged me down. “Hey there son, do a favor and go buy us some drinks.”

 

“What kind?” I played along. I knew these guys. A bunch of lazy no goods. My grandma always told me to avoid them and never speak to one. Sorry Grandma.

 

“Oh, you know…” The man said, eyeing my money. Suddenly he reached for it, grabbing my wrist hard. I don’t want to alarm you, but I would just like to say my childhood had prepared me well for such incidents. Rocking back on my board I kicked hard, doubling over the man until he landed face first on the ground. His friends rose off the steps and I was gone, ignoring their cries as I headed on.

 

I heard a particular yell rise up from behind. Glancing over my shoulder I saw a somewhat troubling sight. The men I passed happened to own a dog. Said dog was a big hulking beast, known throughout the neighborhood to be a bit of a barker. I guess those guys really wanted those drinks, for they’d unleashed this dog after me in the form of a slobbering bulldozer.  

 

My grandma had also always told me to respect my elders. Sorry Grandma.    

 

Slow motion started. I turned the corner and everything sped up. I kicked and pushed as fast as I ever had. Never looking back I heard the dog tagging behind me, slowly gaining. Weaving between garbage cans and flying over dips and cracks in the pavement, I rode hard until I burst through the convenience store doors. Slamming the door behind me the dog skidded to a halt outside, panting worse than I was. Sniffing the door he sat himself down and waited.

 

“You ok kid?” The cashier asked from behind the counter.

 

“Yeah,” I said, slowly backing away. The dog stayed put, sweating beneath the pits. He suddenly sneezed. I hardly believed this dog was supposed to attack anything. He was more comical than anything. I turned towards the only other person in the store. “I want some ice.”

 

“Don’t we all?” He snorted. “We’re flat sold out. Have been all week.”

 

“What?” I gasped. “How can you be out of ice? It’s just frozen water!”

 

“And guess what the nation is in a shortage of right now?” He leaned onto his elbows. “Unless you’re going to buy something, go somewhere else. I can’t have nonpaying kids on skateboards sucking up all my cool air.”

 

Frowning I turned towards the door, unwelcome. Looking outside, I changed my mind and turned back. “Actually…”

 

A dog treat was a poor substitution for water, but I hoped my grandma’s good nature would understand my sudden adoption of the neighborhood terror. The big teddy bear followed me slow and peaceful as could be. I went pretty slow myself, not even riding my skateboard. I felt too dejected and hot.

 

I passed in front of those bum’s apartment again, and surprise surprise, they were still sitting outside. “Hey kid,” The first man had recovered himself enough to approach me again. “Did you—”

 

“They were out! They were out of everything!” I shouted as I sulked past, dodging his hands again. A response I never heard as I walked off, their supposed loyal companion following me all the way home. I dragged my board behind me, letting it bang off the stairs noisily.

 

“I’m back!” Opening the door the hound now named “Bear”, courtesy of his new owner, sauntered in and plopped himself down next to the sofa, perfectly at home. He let out a great sigh of content tiredness.  

 

 “Welcome home,” My grandma appeared out of the kitchen.

 

“I’m sorry Grandma, but they were out of ice.” I shrugged as I leaned my board against the wall and threw off my shoes.

 

“I figured as much.” She nodded. Noticing the figure shedding short brown hairs all over her carpet, she raised an eyebrow.

 

“He followed me home?” I tried. “It’s the truth.”

 

She nodded again and said nothing more about it; instead making me a sandwich and setting me about studying my math. “Even if you’re school is closed, you’re mind shouldn’t be.” Said she.

 

Bear lived with us for quite a while eating effectively out of house and home. Never once did he return to his previous home, even for a visit. They never came a knocking for him either. Bonds between brothers were so fickle at the time. Heat can make a man crazy my Grandma said.

 

The heat wave continued for several more weeks. Ever a cloud appeared, the entire city gathered at their windows waiting for baited breath. Nothing ever fell. My Grandma continued to pray regardless. I complained much, my Grandma little.

 

*Note: How is everyone? Staying cool I hope! It’s ridiculously hot where I live… Over a hundred degrees every day it’s been. Have I mentioned that I strongly dislike summer recently?