“What a sunny day! Let’s go on a walk.”
The hairs on Mike’s neck stood up, delighted by this thought. His soft contentment radiated into the surroundings, making his dog’s bright eyes light upon a full-beam tail in a propeller spin.
Bouncer had been with Mike for a decade. Having each other made them determined to add meaning to their lives. They knew each other like the back of their hand; they were family. Bouncer kept Mike going in his challenging times, as she was his anchor for innocence and kept him persevering during his many hardships.
Mike walked along the path with Bouncer by his side.
Seconds later, Bouncer leaped through the trees with a stick in her mouth. Her big brown eyes and her gold tail swished like she got all her birthday wishes at once. She knew what she wanted. She wanted the slimy stick thrown down the path, not once but repeatedly, until Mike was huffing and puffing. This would be his last walk. Mike could never refuse Bouncer. She was too cute. So, he curled his fingers around the stick and felt the cool dampness. As his arms wheeled back, he lost all balance and fell right into the mud.
The pungent smell of the mud infiltrated his nostrils and caused him to suffocate in agony. Mud oozed down his leg as he could feel it dripping under his trousers. The grit and traces of small pebbles grazed his skin and burned his leg, making it a furious red. Mike could see the infestation crawling around in the mud, decaying his skin. He needed to leave.
Bouncer wailed as she got covered in mud and it submerged the stick in her mouth into the dirt. The incessant barking made Mike insane, so he hurried out of the mud and tried to console Bouncer. Mike condemned himself to see Bouncer like this. It inflicted him with agony.
It was no use.
She was barking relentlessly, and he had nothing else to do apart from trying to get her to quieten down. As people passed by, they all looked at her reluctantly. Everyone on the path was looking at Mike and Bouncer. It had become clear that they were the centre of the show.
Why was everyone so horrible?
Embarrassment was temporary. Mike walked on as if nothing had changed. Bouncer ran forward and encouraged Mike to keep going on the path.
Bouncer found another stick that was thin and slimy. She ran after the stick that Mike had hurdled. Mike will be yearning for these moments when Bouncer leaves him. The ambiance had the echo of laughing kids all in one car eating ice cream. One kid tossed a half-eaten ice cream onto Mike’s face.
The day had gotten worse.
It was a three scoop and toppings galore. It filled up his vision and made his eyes burn. The cold froze his nose and dripped down his neck, sending a wave of sweetness into his mouth. The chocolate taste merged with the mud and grime from before creating a peculiar concoction of ash and ice cream. As the ice cream melted away in the sun. It collected all the waste and mud, bringing it to the tip of his mouth, seeping into it. Mike hated ice cream.
Since a young boy, Mike loathed every flavour of ice cream. He wasn’t a conventional kid and longed to fit in by sharing similar desires to other children. However, it didn’t work out but he still had Bouncer.
The ice cream hugged his face as if it were to make it a permanent home. Mike couldn’t do anything to get rid of it. For the time being, Mike’s face was home to chocolate ice cream. His heart palpitated off beat, creating a jocund vibe, warming up the cold on his face and keeping his core warm. He felt rejuvenated and, for some strange reason, Mike wanted to carry on.
Ice cream was Bouncer’s favourite. The sickly-sweet taste reminded him of her brindled coat. Her loyal and loving nature caused tears to stream down Mike’s face like a river escaping a dam. He couldn’t hold his sorrows in and needed to let go.
Happiness came from within into a creation. It was gentle as it flowed flamboyantly, one moment at a time, guiding Mike’s passions and persuading him to never give up. Bouncer was his happiness. Mike could never say no to Bouncer.
It was now or never because tomorrow he was getting surgery. Today could be his last day with Bouncer. So, he had to make every moment count. Tomorrow, Bouncer will go to a new home and will have a new family. He wished for her contentment wherever she went and hoped that she wouldn’t forget him.
Bouncer came back with the stick poking out of her mouth. She was out of breath from all the fetching, but it was getting dark and they needed to get home. As they walked on the path, they were both silent as they came onto the last path leading home.
Bafflement penetrated Mike’s mind when he read this. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see it: a fallen tree. Its branches spread along the path, blocking every route, it scattered its leaves like fallen angels. In the summer, they used to marvel at the leaves and blooms, but now all they could see was the collapsed branches of the tree. The other trees protected the fallen one so that nothing could tear it apart. Mike would never take Bouncer that way, they wouldn’t make it at all. The fragments of twigs and the body of the tree would make it impossible to walk through.
I need to persevere.
Mike looked at Bouncer’s innocent face and remembered taking her from the dog shelter. Bouncer gave Mike hope; which was something that he could never repay in a hundred lifetimes. Bouncer was a pure soul, God-given, a beauty that deserves cherishing.
They could take another route, but it would take much longer. It was a horrible, cramped route with mud and walls caving in. They had no choice and had to go down this route. The fact that Mike thought this would be a normal walk with Bouncer made him laugh.
This path was both heavy and shallow. The interwoven twigs and leaves worsened their rough journey. The mud and ice cream made an uncanny face pack. This path brought up exciting emotions, immediately contradicted by the mud in his trousers. This was a day that he would never forget.
Bouncer stopped and shook herself, spraying Mike with more mud because apparently, he needed more. His forehead was damp with sweat from all the torment throughout the day. Mike found it hard to contemplate the day. He could never have imagined going on a walk and ending up like this.
Nearly there now.
Bouncers’ limbs seemed to shake; Mike had never considered how Bouncer was feeling. How could he have been so inconsiderate? Bouncer runs up to him and wraps her paws around his legs. Mike bent against the will of his joints and gets down to eye level, promising Bouncer she will be okay. Mike was expecting a poke in the face, but he got a little whimper with Bouncer shivering from all the mud in her fur.
Whilst walking back towards the hospital, Mike knew that this day would never come again. He hoped Bouncer would feel pleased with her life, even without him. He might not even see Bouncer tomorrow, but he made the most of today and that is all that matters.
“What a day.”