Short story

Written for my Reading as a Writer assessment. Based off my 21:3 poem (also posted today.

She turned around and pulled, but they wouldn’t move. No amount of begging, bribing or threats of death would make them budge even an inch. The constant rain had left her body heavy and numb, clothes pulling her closer to the earth, willing her to sink and become one with the mud. She gave a last half-hearted tug on both leads, receiving stubborn silence in reply.

            Her eyes closed, grip loosening as she fantasized with letting go and giving into gravity. Perhaps the rain would wash her from existence; all her worries, responsibilities, all knowledge of her…gone.

            A strong sharp tug startled her eyes open, knees buckling. For a moment a spark of fear fluttered in her chest, an old instinct of self-preservation she hadn’t felt in weeks. A gasp of pain escaped as she fell to the grass, knees giving out further so even her face greeted the earth. It wasn’t physical, but a bubbling sharp sting erupted from her chest, making her gasp for breath and her throat seize up.

            Heaving in air she let out a desperate, long scream, attempting to expel any emotions threatening to end the peaceful numbness. A nudge against her right upper arm made the sound sizzle out. She lifted her upper body and stared at the two English bulldogs, now licking her dirt-encased hand and whining.

            Shock gripped her, clearing her mind to glance behind her, seeing the riverbank’s edge she’d almost walked off.

            ‘I-’ she started, surprised at the sound of her own voice. When had she last heard it?

            Gaia and Terra responded to the sound by whining louder and moving to lick her face. Their warm tongues and foul breath sent a renewed awareness through her body. Her whole being convulsed with shivers, her skin tight from cold. The constant rain hammered on her exposed head, a mini-drum pounding her into living.

            ‘I’m sorry,’ She whispered, giving each loyal dog a heartfelt stroke before reclaiming their leads and standing. ‘I won’t try that again.’

            The journey home was painful, her feet and hands soaked, her body beyond tired. She let Gaia and Terra lead, trusting them to keep her alive once again. Perhaps one day she’d be grateful for it.

            They led her to the back of the cottage, the usual routine after a walk. She’d forgotten to turn the kitchen light off before leaving and, for a moment, she saw him there, watching through the window. His smile was content, frozen forever, cradling a warm drink he’d never experience, but never let go of.

            She tried to stop but the eager dogs pulled her down the garden path. The closer they got the more he faded away until only an empty house remained. Numb fingers dug into her pockets for the keys, turning them in the lock but losing the strength to open.

            A sharp, hungry bark made her smile, just a little, as she shook herself and stepped inside.

            They still needed her.

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