'Love You, Always' by Georgina Poulton

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17 April 2020
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Adults and over 13's short story competition entry.

I like trees. I like running around trees and the smell of trees. Oh, all the smells! Trees outside the car window are the last thing I remember before everything went loud and I heard my mom screaming. Did she see a spider? Then nothing… until I woke up on mom’s bed this morning.

I’m quite stiff but it’s nothing a good stretch won’t fix. I yawn noisily, hoping the sound might wake mom. Her soft, sleeping face looks sad and puffy, like she’s been crying, and there are some little cuts too. “Yoooooooooooooowwwwwllll.” Nothing. I’ll just have to ask dad for breakfast. He’s not in bed so must be downstairs. Leaping off the bed I race into the kitchen.

Dad’s not here. Is he at work already? I can’t smell coffee and dad always has coffee with breakfast. I can’t smell porridge either. Actually, I can’t even smell his coat or his stinky boots. Where is he?

I lift my head as I hear the stairs creak. Aha! Mom’s coming to feed me! I spin around, already drooling for my chicken. She rubs her face and sighs, stopping in front of me. I reach up onto mom’s knees to give her licks but she walks past me to the fridge. My chicken’s in there! She opens the door, sighs again and mutters, “Great, no milk”.

Mom wearily pulls on her boots and opens the front door. She looks towards me with a lost look on her face and whispers, “Walkies, Missy.” Oh, yes! Walkies! I run towards her with my ears flapping. Walkies with mom beats breakfast!

As we walk together I grin up at mom, tongue lolling as I pant happily. Mom stops outside the newsagents so I wait next to the whooshy doors, pressing my nose against the glass.

When mom returns I greet her, leaping into the air. She walks away from me quickly and straight into another lady, dropping her bags on the floor. I squeal and scoot forward, finding myself nose-to-nose with another dog. He stares at me with his big brown eyes and a dopey grin. I look up at mom; she’s staring wide-eyed at the dog.

“His name’s Ted if you want to stroke him,” offers the dog’s owner with a friendly smile.

“Wha… pardon?” mom stutters. She blinks and looks up at the owner with a frown. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

“That’s alright. This is my boy Ted and I’m Claire. Are you ok? Let’s sit down,” asks Claire, pointing to a bench.

Claire helps mom pick up her shopping. I sit at mom’s feet, resting my chin on her lap. Claire has wrinkles on her face and smells of biscuits. She holds mom’s hand and strokes it tenderly. Mom leans forward and starts crying, tears dripping onto my head. I lick her face gently to stop her crying. I don’t like it when mom is sad. Claire gives mom a tissue and rubs her back.

“Sometimes it helps to talk to a complete stranger about things. I’m not pushing but I’m a very good listener,” offers Claire with a kind smile.

“I’m sorry, I’m not normally emotional like this,” mom replies. “It’s just… when I saw your dog… I thought he was my dog, Missy. He looks just like her and I thought… I don’t know what I thought. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to trouble you,” mom apologises and gets up.

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“Please, I’d like to hear about Missy,” Claire softly says.

“Missy was beautiful, she was my girl,” mom sniffles, sitting down. “My husband and I chose her together. We always wanted a Cocker Spaniel and loved her pink nose. I can’t have children so Missy was our child. She was just… perfect,” mom paused. I nudged her knee so she knew I was here.

“We were in a car accident recently and I… I lost my husband and Missy,” mom sobs. Lost dad? Lost me? I’m right here, mom, you didn’t lose me! I hop up and push my wet nose into her hand.

I jump down and see Ted at Claire’s feet. He stands with his bottom in the air, chest down. Aaah, he wants to play! I pounce towards him and he leaps backwards running around, yapping wildly so I chase him. Ted stops and picks up a stick and I pull the other end. I growl playfully and he pulls the stick from me. I bark, wagging my tail, and he runs towards me. I sprint around the trees after him.

A sudden noise makes me stop and listen. I hear it again. I turn around and mom and Claire are laughing loudly, holding hands.

“Oh, isn’t Ted just the silliest, funniest dog ever?” Claire breathlessly asks.

“Missy used to play just like that too!” mom laughed.

“Isn’t it lovely how they can play like that by themselves?” Claire mused. By themselves? Ted? I’m playing with Ted. I bark at Ted and he barks back.

“Oh look, he’s barking at something now!” cries Claire.

I like seeing mom happy, it makes me happy. Looking at mom, I suddenly feel my paws leave the ground. What’s happening? I’m floating! I look down at Ted as I float higher and bark at him. He howls back, jumping around crazily. I see mom happy, smiling, laughing. I float higher until there’s nothing, but I’m not scared.

Everything bursts into colour around me. I’ve never known colours before but I know these are special colours. A bridge looks like a rainbow to rolling green hills. In the distance I can hear dogs. So many dogs, so many new friends! I can see a person on the bridge waving at me. I grin as I see it’s dad! Don’t worry mom, dad is here, I’ll look after him. Dad’s holding my ball, tossing it into the air. He calls my name and I know I’m safe. I’m happy. I’ll love you, always.

Write your own dog-themed short story

Do you love dogs? Do you love writing? Does your child love drawing? Are you looking for something to set your mind to and show off your creative skills? Then this is the perfect opportunity for you.

Find out how to enter here: www.yourdog.co.uk/short-story-competition