Contest #74 shortlist ⭐️

Top Ten Places To Wait For Your Owners

Submitted into Contest #74 in response to: Write a story in the form of a top-ten list.... view prompt

15 comments

Fiction Sad

One: right where they left you

It’s a wonderful, quaint little spot, a lush, fragrant stretch of grass and white clovers, sunny and warm and right by the roadside, so they’ll have no problem seeing you when they come back. Besides, right here is where their scent is the strongest, on account of how they left you your favourite plush blanket to wait upon, as well as your food and water bowls, heaped with dry food and your favourite biscuits. It’s more than they usually feed you at a single mealtime, which means it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to you. Food is fantastic, food is wonderful. Of course you’d rather be eating it at home, because maybe then you could glean a few scraps of meat from the dinner table, but it’s been a while since you were last outside, so a part of you is glad for it. You wish you could have walked here rather than drove, and a part of you desperately wants to take this opportunity to chase after the squirrels you can smell in the wooded region just a little further away, but if you did that then your owners might not be able to find you when they return. So for now you stay, sniffing at the grass, rearranging your blanket, alternating between sitting and laying down, sometimes dozing off under the warm summer sun as you learn to ignore the occasional roar of the passing cars. Every so often, you’ll hear one slow, or even stop nearby, and you can’t help but perk up, to see if they’ve returned. But it’s always someone you’ve never seen or smelled before, and they make all sorts of coaxing and cooing noises at you, some of them even gracing you with a good scratch behind the ears. Some of them try to lure you into their car, but they’re not your family so you stay, immobile, until finally they give up and leave. You’ve been waiting for a while now, but it doesn’t bother you - you’re good at waiting. 



Two: right where they left you

Night fell without them returning, but now the sun has risen again and it’s another wonderful, golden day. It’s hot without any shade nearby - not unless you leave your spot and go into the trees, but that’s one thing you absolutely cannot allow yourself to do: how then would they see you? - and your water supply is running dangerously low, but it’s not that difficult to bear. They’ll be back soon enough, and you’ll get so many treats for waiting so patiently, so well. You wonder what sorts of treats you’ll get. Will it be a pig ear, or maybe a lovely marrow bone, or maybe they’ll do that wonderful thing where they fill the crevice of your cow hoof with peanut butter and let you have at it, your tongue seeking out every crack and crevice that glorious substance managed to get into, licking and licking until not a single trace of flavour remains. Maybe they won’t give you any treats, the prospect of which makes you a little sad, but the mere thought of being home again is better than any treat they could give you (not that that would stop you from begging for one). But you doubt that they would be stingy - after all, you always got the best rewards for heeding the ‘stay’ command. You weren’t any good at it when you were younger, but you’ve mastered it over the years, and now you have no trouble sitting still even as they taunt you with promises of food held just out of your reach. You could probably ‘stay’ for hours if they so desired it - that’s how good you’ve gotten at obeying. Admittedly, they’ve never asked you to do that - well, not until now - and this is by far the longest you’ve ever had to wait, and the hungriest you’ve ever been, but it doesn’t bother you - you’re good at waiting. 



Three: right where they left you

You’ve never liked the rain, never much liked water in general, which always seemed to exasperate your owners, especially when it was bath time, and part of you wishes you could be waiting in a different spot, one where you wouldn’t have to get wet. Still, you can’t think of a better place to wait than here, because here is where they left you, here is where they’ll be expecting to find you when they return. Besides, the rain is refilling your water bowl, for which you are grateful because you ran out of water yesterday morning. You drink so much water that you wouldn’t be able to move even if you had wanted to, and continue to wait. Your blanket is soggy and feels disgusting, but you’ve given up on trying to reposition it. Your owners always hated it when you were excessively fussy with your bedding, and even though they can’t see or hear you right now, it gives you comfort to be on your best behaviour, as if you could call them back with it, that they’ll realise, from wherever they are, that you’re being a very good boy indeed, and will return with all haste bearing the praises they owe you. Thunder rumbles in the distance, and again you wish that you had somewhere to hide from the storm while you wait, but you have nowhere other than right here, and it doesn’t bother you - you’re good at waiting.



Four: right where they left you

It’s another sweltering day, but just an hour ago a car stopped and refilled both your bowls. They’ve been doing that more and more frequently, stopping for longer, giving you pats and treats and trying to get you to move, to come with them, but there’s nowhere - other than home - that you’d rather be than right here, where you know your owners will soon come to find you and take you back. Someone has left an umbrella, and while you desperately want to crawl under its shade, you know you can’t do that - it’s too far from the roadside, for one, and besides, how could your family see you if you’re hiding under something when they pass by? No, you’ll stay right here on your blanket right by the asphalt, where you’re easily noticeable. The blanket is getting ratty and a hole is starting to form where you’ve been biting it to help distract yourself from the boredom and monotony of your days. There are days when no one stops and you have no choice but to go hungry and thirsty until someone does, but it doesn’t bother you - you’re good at waiting.



Five: right where they left you

Lately the people in the cars that stop have been getting more insistent, more desperate in trying to get you to move, sometimes spending minutes upon minutes trying to get you into their cars in all sorts of ways. They’ve placed your bowls into the bed of their truck; when you refuse to move of your own volition, they try to move you themselves, by pushing you from behind, or grabbing you by the neck, or trying to bring your blanket into their car, or trying to carry you there. It’s these last two methods that you particularly resent, and so you’ve started lashing out, because what else are you supposed to do to get them to stop? Even if they take the bowls you know they’ll eventually put them back when you continue to stay and they give up with big sad sighs. But when they try to take you, or worse, take your blanket, that’s when you start to bite. Mostly, you’re not actually trying to hurt them, just to get them to stop and let go, because as much as you hate to inflict pain, what you hate even more is that they’re trying to take you away from this spot, from ever seeing your family again. How could someone be so cruel as to deny you that? You want to go home, and home is not just anywhere with a roof and food, it is your home, with your family and your toys, your collar and your bed, your trees and your squirrels - not just whatever someone decides you should have. And until you can go back to your life, you’ll wait right here, by this spot by the roadside that is not just a spot by the roadside - it is your spot, where the last traces of your life still linger. You don’t know how much longer it’ll be until you can go back, but it doesn’t bother you - you’re good at waiting. 



Six: right where they left you

It’s starting to get colder lately; not by much, but just by enough that it’s become more comfortable to stay under the sun all day. It’s also gotten quieter: the people in the cars have become more accustomed to your presence, and for the most part they’ve accepted that you don’t want to go with them, don’t want to wait anywhere but here, where you know you can be found. They still stop to replenish your food and your water, for which you are of course grateful. Occasionally some of them will get a sudden second wind, as if believing that within the few weeks since their last attempts at taking you, you’ve somehow forgotten about your owners, or maybe will have finally tired of waiting here and will finally give in and go with them. They’ve started calling you by all sorts of different names, none of which, obviously, is the one your owners gave you, and the only one you ever want to have. You wish they would stop - the longer they stay by the roadside, trying to coax you into doing something impossible, the greater the possibility that their car will block the sight of you as your owners drive by, looking and looking but not seeing. That is the thought that terrifies you, second only to the thought that they will never come back, but that fear is so absurd, so unrealistic that it is easily dismissed. In the meanwhile, you’ll do what you’ve always done, day after day, but it doesn’t bother you - you’re good at waiting. 



Seven: right where they left you

You’ve started to spend more time sleeping. You no longer whine or cry, not even at night when another day has passed without them, not even when it rains and you curl up around yourself, around your blanket that has grown so threadbare it’s hardly a blanket anymore. Still, you cling to it because, even though it doesn’t smell of them anymore - only of you, and of grass and mud and rain and sun - it’s still a reminder of home, a promise of the place you’ll someday go back to, a present from your owners, your beloved owners who have kept you waiting for so long it hurts, but you trust they have good reasons to make you wait like this. After all, they love you as much as you love them, and if you haven’t forgotten them then there’s no way they would have forgotten you. You know, with more certainty than ever before, that they will be back soon, so very soon, and then you will be able to leave this place and go back to where you will forever be loved and cherished and warm. You don’t know when ‘soon’ is, exactly, but it doesn’t bother you - you’re good at waiting.



Eight: right where they left you

Someone has left you a dog bed, and although it smells foreign and wrong and not of you and your owners, you guiltily accept, dragging it from where they left it on the deadening grass to your spot right by the roadside. You’ve placed your tattered blanket in the centre and arrange yourself around it, a dragon protecting the last of its treasures. It may not be much of a treasure, but it’s yours, and not much is anymore, apart from the hope of home. Sometimes when you fall asleep, you dream of chasing a scent, for once not hindered by the pull of the leash. You follow that scent through the woods, up roads and dusty alleyways, impervious to the rabbits and squirrels whose smells you catch along the way. You follow that scent all the way to a house, a house that you remember is yours, filled with that smell which you now recognise as the smell of home - how could you ever have forgotten? And there are your owners, petting and praising, and asking what took you so long, they’ve been waiting for you. When you wake up, you are not home, and there is no scent, but it doesn’t bother you - you’re good at waiting.



Nine: right where they left you

The day you go home is soon, sooner than ever, you can feel it, and that breathes new life into you, sudden and hot and vibrant. No longer do you waste your days sleeping: you are awake and alert to every car that passes, knowing that one of them will be theirs. You howl and bark a lot, more than you ever did before, because maybe then they’ll hear you before they see you. I’m here, you tell them, although they’re still too far to hear, but soon they’ll be close enough. I’m here, I’m here, I’m here, right where you left me - I’ve been good and stayed, just like you told me to! You have no clue how far is still too far, nor how close will be close enough, but it doesn’t bother you - you’re good at waiting.



Ten: right where they left you

Even though you can scarcely remember what came before this, what came before here, you know that it’s a good place to wait, the best place to wait, the only place to wait. It doesn’t matter how long it takes them, you’ll always be right here, always be waiting for them, and although you’re not sure you remember their scent, you know you’ll recognise it as soon as you smell it. In the meanwhile, you’ll wait, however long it takes, even if it takes forever. If you wait in this spot, you know you’ll see them again, and therefore it is the best spot you could ever imagine in which to wait for your owners. The days have melded together, like a thick, grey, murky soup the same colour of the sky, and it’s cold and it’s wet, and you are tired, so tired, but never has there been a better spot than this one. It has become your entire world, and some days it feels as though you’ve forgotten how to do anything other than wait, but that doesn’t bother you - you’re good at waiting.

January 01, 2021 20:12

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

15 comments

A.R. Eakle
13:09 Jan 06, 2021

This was so sad! Really interesting take on the prompt. Really good narrative flow and wonderful use of the motif! Why is it that stories and movies with animals are so much more sad?

Reply

Show 0 replies
Rayhan Hidayat
22:54 Jan 09, 2021

Oh my god this was heartbreaking 🥺

Reply

Show 0 replies

Loved the story so much! Great job on shortlist!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Mat Dodunski
00:26 Jan 28, 2021

Thank you for this beautifully written story. As heartbreaking as the situation is, you have made it easy to connect with the main subject's emotions and understand their unwavering loyalty to their owners. They way you have sectioned the story into the same-titled headers is quite powerful, reinforcing the devotion that the subject has to their owner's return.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Echo Sundar
18:16 Jan 22, 2021

Aww oh my gosh, this story is so sad I almost want to cry. It's so sweet and so sad and perfectly encaptures the spirit of a dog. The dog's love for its owner is so sweet but it makes you want to cry because you know the owner doesn't love the dog back. This story is so so amazing.

Reply

Show 0 replies

Oh my gosh this is so sad but well-written 😭😭🥺🥺

Reply

Show 0 replies
Caleb Goehring
19:03 Jan 09, 2021

So sad but also so realistic! You jumped right into the mind of an abandoned dog. I often wonder why they behave the way they do, but this made so much sense. So insightful.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Kaylee Tinsley
02:08 Jan 24, 2021

Wow- this was incredible, poignant, and lyrical all rolled in one. Loved this!! -Your newest follower :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Agafia Apple
18:48 Jan 19, 2021

Great job. If I could recommend anything, it would be to use fewer adjectives. And, you can describe things by what they cause rather than merely stating it. Ex) "It’s another sweltering day," -> "It's another sweltering day, your panting louder as you squint from the harsh sun, your fur damp from the groggy air." (I know I'm not the best writer, but the advice is still sound.)

Reply

Show 0 replies
John Walsh
20:10 Jan 08, 2021

That poor dog! Great sad story.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Leo Reynie
14:36 Feb 10, 2021

This is insanely amazing. Its so sad but so true and wonderful. Can't wait to see more of your stuff. (:

Reply

Show 0 replies
Aisa M
17:34 Jan 31, 2021

This is sad but very beautifully told :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Sydney Shepherd
16:05 Jan 30, 2021

Well, this is heartbreaking. And it's a comment on the free will of pets and their right to choose for themselves, "not just whatever someone decides you should have", as well as the way we as humans shape the lives of the creatures we claim as pets.

Reply

Show 0 replies
01:03 Mar 02, 2022

BEAUTIFUL!!! it so sad it made me cry but in a happy way. It reminded me of all those memories I had with my first dog and second, the died so may they rest in peace (not in the same time) it reminded me every happy memory I had with them. you made me cry with joy, thank you. Hope you continue the good work.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Sunny 🌼 🖤
18:51 Feb 21, 2021

This was so good but so sad at the same time! The poor doggy!

Reply

Show 0 replies