The day has arrived for me to plunge headlong into the A-Z Challenge this month!
To kick things off, my first prompt has been provided by the lovely Niki, and her word is ‘ABANDONED’. Quite a powerful word right from the start and one which threw up plenty of ideas right away. Here’s what I was able to come up with.
Quick note: As the word suggests, this story leans heavily on the emotional side, so consider yourselves warned!
By Adam Dixon
It was cold and wet and Jasper wanted to go home. The wind had picked up, chilling his sodden fur and making him tremble. He tugged pathetically at his lead but it had been tied securely to a fence post. He lay back down and gazed forlornly in the direction his Master had gone.
Jasper didn’t know why his Master had seen fit to leave him alone in the rain. He knew that there must be a reason for, as his Master was not an impulsive Man. Perhaps he had been BAD again…Jasper knew that he was a BAD DOG because his Master so often told him so. He wanted to be GOOD and tried to do all the things that a GOOD DOG should, but he was still BAD and his Master was angry with him an awful lot.
Perhaps this was his Punishment then? When Jasper was BAD he would often be driven from the house and be made to sleep outside. When he had been VERY BAD, like when he had accidentally knocked over the Man-Pup, he had been kicked several times and then locked outside for two days. It was his Punishment for being too big and too clumsy, and Jasper knew this well. He couldn’t help being so big, but he should be more careful, especially around the small Man-Pup.
But what had he done this time? He must have been VERY BAD to deserve this kind of Punishment! Jasper racked his brains but could not think of anything he had done recently which was especially BAD. Perhaps that was the point, and that he once he acknowledged his behaviour his Master would return and allow him to get back into the Car. Then they would drive home once more, and Jasper would be better…
By the third day Jasper was very hungry. He had been able to drink from various puddles of water due to the constant rain, but hunger was gnawing at his belly with the same level of commitment Jasper gnawed at his squeaky Toys. He looked up expectantly every time a Car approached the field, but his was never his Car and so it continued past the unhappy dog. Jasper began to whine softly. He’d be a GOOD DOG if his Master came back soon!
Later that third day, a big Car approached and stopped on the roadside, a few feet from where Jasper lay. It was not Jasper’s Car, so he remained where he was and ignored it. The doors opened and a Man and a Woman climbed out. The Man was short with black hair and a beard, and the woman was tall with blond hair and freckles. Both were dressed in dark uniforms with a blue badge across their left breast. They approached Jasper cautiously, wearing large smiles and speaking in hushed, soothing tones. They moved almost within touching distance before Jasper seemed to finally notice them and shied away, whimpering. Who were these people? Where was his Master?
The Man and Woman stopped and looked at each other. They exchanged some brief words before the Man strode back to the Car. The Woman stayed where she was, crouching in the pouring rain and smiling at Jasper.
“It’s okay, boy,” she was saying softly, looking earnestly at him. “Me and my friend are here to help you! Look at you, you poor thing! Who would leave a lovely big boy like you out here in the rain, eh?” Jasper stood as far away as his lead would allow, shivering and watching the Woman anxiously. The Woman maintained her crouch until the Man returned, carrying a large umbrella. He passed it to the Woman who opened it slowly and shimmed closer to Jasper. Jasper still trembled, but he allowed the Woman to shelter him from the rain. It felt like a very very long time since Jasper had been out of the rain. The Man and the Woman sat at the roadside, holding the umbrella over Jasper, talking to him continually. The Man went back to the Car once more to fetch a packet of biscuits.
Jasper’s ears pricked up as soon as he smelled the biscuits, but he was unsure whether or not to trust these new people. They seemed nice enough, but where was his Master? He began to whine in distress, tugging at his lead and glancing up the road.
“Come on, boy,” the Woman insisted, holding out a biscuit and blinking rainwater from her eyes. “It’s okay, you’re safe now.” Jasper looked at the biscuit, then up at the Woman. He took a tentative step forward, sniffing the offered treat. After another moment of hesitation, Jasper’s tongue flopped out and he stood munching with crumbs falling from his chops. The Woman whispered encouragement and offered another which Jasper accepted readily this time. Then, something happened which hadn’t occurred for three days: Jasper’s great, rope-like tail began to wag. Jasper had decided that these people were very kind and he was glad of their company. He ate biscuit after biscuit as his new friends attempted to fill his empty belly, and they patted and stroked him as he did so.
“I never get used to seein’ this kind of thing,” the Man said sadly as he closed the back of the Car. Jasper had been untied and with a lot of coaxing they had managed to get him into the vehicle. He now sat inside the Car, wagging his tail vigorously.
“Me neither, mate,” the Woman sighed, shaking rain from her hair. “But it’s a bloody good thing that someone called us. This fella wouldn’t’ve lasted much longer. C’mon, let’s get him to the shelter.”
Presently they got into the Car and began to drive away. In the back, Jasper realised what was happening and began to howl. How would he find his Master now?