Short story from Peace Park

{The following is a story I wrote in my notebook today while sitting in the park in between classes. I’d seen this guy with his fat little dachshund around downtown twice in 24 hours, and then they walked past me in the park. They seemed aimless, so I decided to give them a story.}

He had never wanted a dog. But as Copper bounded along beside him, Craig Morrison couldn’t imagine life without the dachshund.

His short legs set a carefree pace and his tangled fur almost drug the ground. A plethora of intriguing scents tugged at Copper’s nose, but a single decisive snap of Craig’s fingers brought him immediately to his master’s side.  Head held high, Copper only reached six inches above the cuff of Craig’s blue jeans that was scraping against his ankle. Being a dog, Copper didn’t care that the jeans were too short. He hadn’t even noticed how Craig’s fashion had faltered- how quickly he grabbed the clothes that he unceremoniously donned each day since Linda had been gone.

Copper craned his neck to gaze up at his master’s face in adoration. Only in a dog could total subjugation and pure love mix so neatly.

“Haven’t you heard that a dog is man’s best friend,” Linda had pressed. She’d been pleading for a puppy for months. She clutched Craig’s hand eagerly as the tiny dog squirmed and whined in its crate. “Oh come on, please? He’ll keep me company while you’re writing. Dogs are so wonderful.”

“Dogs,” Craig replied, “pee on your floors, chew up your furniture, shed all over the carpet, and yap incessantly.” Copper didn’t mind the criticism. He cocked his head to the side and wagged his tail happily at the sound of Craig’s voice.

But it was the look in Linda’s eyes, not in the dog’s, that had compelled Craig to bring the puppy home that day.

The memories of those first days tugged at the edge of Craig’s mind as they meandered through the park. He sat on a  wooden bench and Copper obediently settled himself on the ground. The dog hadn’t worn a leash in over three years- there just wasn’t any need. Craig looked down at him.

“You’re not my best friend,” he said. “You’re all I’ve got.” Copper wagged his tail.

It was one of the first warm days of March, so different from the bitter cold November afternoon when Linda’s mother had come to collect her stuff.

“Sorry I’m late,” she’d said as Craig held open the apartment door. “A couple snow flurries and everyone forgets how to drive. I swear, the world’s gone mad.”

Craig said little and tried to stay out of the way as she stacked piles of Linda’s neatly folded clothes into cardboard boxes. In five minutes she gathered all the knick knacks Linda had accumulated in the past seven years. That silly pink porcelain elephant she found at a flea market…

“Isn’t she adorable?” Linda had exclaimed gleefully. Craig had always liked the way Linda gave genders to inanimate objects. “She’ll look fantastic on the mantle!”

All of the physical evidence of Linda’s eccentric vibrance was wrapped in dingy newspaper and packed away. Craig helped Linda’s mother haul the boxes down to her car, then stood shivering in the cold.

“Thanks. Do you have all of Copper’s things put together for me?” she asked. A startled look fell across his face.

“I, uh. Well…” he stood at a loss.

“Oh,” she said, understanding. “Do you want to keep the dog?” She asked it gingerly and looked at him as if he might break at any moment. It made him feel like less of a man. He cleared his throat and shoved his freezing hands in his jeans pockets.

“Well, I wouldn’t want him to feel displaced,” he mumbled. “He might…think he did something wrong…if you take him away from his home.”

“Okay,” Linda’s mother said, patting his shoulder in a very motherly way. She stared at him for a few awkward moments, then took a breath to say something else.

“Snow’s getting worse,” Craig said quickly, almost curtly. He regained his composure. “Drive carefully.”

“All right then,” she said. With a slam of the car door, she was gone. He crept back upstairs to the silent emptiness of their apartment – his apartment.

That night he let Copper onto the bed and cried openly into the dog’s coarse fur. The sobs wracked his body until he finally fell asleep. When he awoke the next morning, he was still clutching Copper, who hadn’t squirmed all night. Copper looked into his eyes, and they both got up to face the day.

A kid whirred past on a bike, startling Craig out of his thoughts. The afternoon sun was getting warm, and Copper had stretched out in the shade of the bench. His tongue lolled out of his mouth as he panted.

“Let’s get you a drink, boy,” Craig said. The dog jumped up and wagged his tail. They walked a short distance to the creek that cut through the center of the park, and Copper picked his way through the rocks to the bank to lap at the water. Craig noticed with a twinge of guilt how fat the dog had gotten. It had been a long, hard winter with a lot of moping around. Craig’s job as a writer didn’t require him to go out much if he didn’t want to. His writing hadn’t been very vibrant that winter. Linda had always compelled him to get out and do things, even when he was feeling lazy. He would do anything to elicit her happy smile. He was always grateful once he got out– going anywhere with Linda became a mini-vacation, and his writing was always at its best then.

“Well, are ya ready?” he asked, as much for himself as for Copper.

They walked two blocks down the sidewalk and turned the corner. Craig pulled open a wrought-iron gate and let the dog trot in ahead of him. They walked past rows and rows of bleached white until they got to the burr oak tree. Copper got there first and waited patiently. Craig pressed a hand against the ancient bark of the towering tree for a moment, as if to steady himself. From his pocket he produced a tiny ceramic chickadee he’d bought at a garage sale the day before, and set it on Linda’s grave. He stood.

“We love you,” he said to the silent stone.

“Okay, Copper. Let’s go home.” Ever faithful, Copper was instantly at his master’s side, and together they went out into the world.

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About Nicole

Daughter of God, wife, mother, volunteer youth leader, substitute teacher, aspiring writer, rabbit owner, nature lover. These are some of my titles.
This entry was posted in Fiction, Life as we know it, Nature, Relationships and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Short story from Peace Park

  1. swissknifev says:

    You know something ma’am ? It’s beautiful. I am a copywriter and I think you written it so well just sitting on a park bench with only two images to work on. I couldn’t have done it.

    I felt that in comparison I was a mechanical bore.

    It was almost poetic, capturing a hidden emotion between Man, Wife and Dog. You have shown the unflagging love of a dog for his or her master. Trust at its purest.

    You didn’t give them a story. You had given them an emotional value.

    More importantly. your spontaneous story on a park bench made my eyes wet. No blog had done that.

    Believe me, one day I can see a book with your name on it.

    A hunch. I could feel an Erich Segal…I could.

  2. Nicole says:

    Wow, that is quite high praise. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  3. swissknifev says:

    In fact I thought that your story could make a nice short film. It could be turned into a script with the character Craig as the narrator. There could be cuts into voice overs and scenes.
    Try turning you story into a film.

    I can see the little movie end with Craig placing that chocolate on Linda’s grave.

    And they walk away from the camera.

    Copper wags his tail happily, jumping up and running around as Craig rubs his back. As the camera slowly zooms out into an areal shot where the audience see the dog and master walking away into life.
    And the lonely grave lies behind them grow apart with each step they take. We can see the whole scene from the air.

    Slow beautiful music reaches a crescendo. And then there is a scroll that features the cast and crew.

    I can see it as a little poetic beautiful little slice of human life captured in a tiny film.

  4. Jane says:

    Awesome – absolutely awesome. . . . and yes, I’m crying.

  5. swissknifev says:

    Nicole ma’am ! nicole ma’am!!! why aren’t you doing a film ?Jane cried and I cried and…Please touch a 100000000000000000 people with values……………………..

  6. swissknifev says:

    I am a male. If you can make my hard mind moist you can do that to the world. Please, please, please…! DON’T WASTE THIS IDEA. DON’T WASTE THIS IDEA !

    Check this blog> maryalexius.wordpress.com

    This 25 year old wants to die because of a problem in her life. I gave her all the strength I could. Still, she’s feeling lousy. I did my duty. Please, as a sensitive human talk (Blog) to her.

    I hope what I said saves her. But…

  7. swissknifev says:

    Nicole ! Thank you so much!!! I feel good for reaching out to you and someone else who feels better because of you. You are sensitive. GOD BLESS YOU. I

  8. swissknifev says:

    … I ask God to make you trhe best writer in the world so that people can feel and follow your values.

    It can be a book.
    It can be a film.
    It can be a poem.
    Or it can be just YOU>

    Thanks. I felt good.

  9. swissknifev says:

    Nicole ma’am ! I know you are BIG person. You will not reply. Still …I’n happy!

  10. swissknifev says:

    HI

  11. Nicole says:

    Yes? I don’t have any plans to try to get published anytime soon. College keeps me busy enough. Perhaps after I graduate I will have more time to look into things to do with my writing. For now, I’m satisfied with just blogging.

  12. swissknifev says:

    Hi! I understand. I had read your resume on this blog and it’s pretty impressive. I saw that you had also worked as a reporter. That’s why I thought that you could write a story or a book – easily.
    Also, you have other impressive portfolios. In comparison my resume can look like a time waster’s resume. What I also liked was that you have experience in handling kids. I teach art to little poor kids in a missionary school. I enjoy being with kids because I become a kid myself. But – they can test your nerves to their limit. Thanks. Once again let me tell you – you’ll make a good script writer. Hollywood is waiting…

  13. Nicole Ma’am! Hi!

  14. swissknifev says:

    Frankly I don’t understand social campaigns. People feel good that a leader is born ( they are emotionally exploitative). The social campaigner feels good that something important is being done to impress the higher ups.

    I believe in the heart. A story. A creative expression.

    The rest is career building and – USING PEOPLE to act as a crusader for career growtrh.

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