I am not a writer. I am not good with words. My story is about hope (or rather the lack of it). I hope you can benefit from me. My story.
Another cold, windy, San Francisco night brings another equally chilling attitude. I shove my hoodie over my head and trot the dimly lit sidewalk that leads to my apartment, ramshackle and filthy. But who’ll ever come to visit me? Good question, Ean. Maybe I should just walk in front of that car. I’ll go quietly. No one will know or care. I’d die a slow lonely death but it’d probably end that way anyways. I light a cigarette taking long, slow draws resting the back of my head against the stone wall. I was happy once, you know. I had a decent childhood and a good upbringing. Me and my brother were bros back then. Then the teenage years hit. He took off with his girlfriend bout’ a year ago and never came back. I was crushed. I got a job at McDonald's, my parents were angry and said I had so much potential and we lost touch. I had friends once upon a time, too. A couple cig buddies but they’re long gone, too. So now it’s just me. I swing the door to my apartment open but it hits an open can of coke on the floor.
“Crap,” I mutter under my breath speeding to clean up the mess. I am such a mess. There are dirty dishes stacked up to the ceiling. Laundry begging to be cleaned. My crap is everywhere. The TV’s still on, probably racked up my electric bill. I’ll be even more in debt. I open the fridge revealing half a jug of spoiled milk, a jar of jelly, and a few eggs. Fried eggs with jelly? I start the skillet and rest my hand on the countertop. My head is pounding like someone banged it with a mallet. A wave of dizziness washes over me. I stumble to the sink and begin placing dishes in the dishwasher. I then move on to the laundry. And when I’m in the middle of cleaning my living room, I smell burning. Crap. The eggs. I scrape the ashes off the pan and slump to the floor. Biting tears burn in the corners of my eyes. My cheeks sting as the tears trickle down my dry face. I need help, and soon.
I wake up on the kitchen floor damp with sweat. This is the third night in a row I’ve had these morbid nightmares. 9:33. And I’m late to work. I throw on jeans and a sweatshirt and spring out the door like a cheetah chasing its prey. When I arrive, my boss gives me another lengthy lecture, then charges me for the time I wasted listening to him yell at me. It seems the only communication I have these days is yelling and screaming. People tell me all too often to die. I wonder what they would do if I took them seriously. Nothing, I suppose. I work at the desk plastering fake smiles across my face for the customers. I stink, I’m tired, and I haven’t eaten in over a day. I am thin and bony. And suddenly I’m angry! I rip off my hat and apron and slap them in my bosses' face, storming out the employee's door. Then I’m running. Running from myself. The person I became. Through the winding alleys all the way to my apartment. Gasping, I stop to catch my breath. Sitting at my feet is the most adorable thing I have ever seen: a quaint and gawky, particularly clumsy, deliriously happy puppy husky. And it is sitting in a cardboard box labeled “free” in sloppy handwriting. Surely this innocent puppy is not the free object, I think. But an old man sitting on a bench, cane in hand tells me he is. I lift the fussy ball and cradle him in my arms. The man pats me on the shoulder and tells me to take good care of him. He then hands me a short leash and puppy food, kisses the puppy goodbye, and bids me a good day. I step in the room first and place him in a small box while I clean up and make him a living space. But he does the most unexpected thing: hops out of the box and starts carrying clothes to me with his teeth. I show him how to pick up pop cans and throw them away, he then mirrors my actions. I am dumbfounded. How can a 6-week old puppy be so smart? I place him back in his box so l can vacuum but he just hops out and sits on a chair in the kitchen. The noise of the vacuum scares him at first, but he calms down when he hears my voice. He aids me in nearly everything I do. Koda, I call him and it only takes him a day to adjust and answer to that name. In the evenings, he lays down with me while we watch my favorite show. He sleeps with me in bed and softly nudges me with his paw when he needs a bathroom break. I know I need to go back to work. I know I need to explain my actions, apologize, and swear to show up on time. But I can’t bring myself to leave Koda here alone. He is my companion. He never leaves my side. Koda has saved me from myself, what I might have done to myself. He has given me a new light, new hope. Something I never thought I would regain. I called my parents. They are talking to me again. I tried to get ahold of my brother but my parents think he’s gone for good. I have re-established connections, found love, the meaning of life, I have found myself. Who I want to be. And I owe it all to the helpless puppy who sleeps in my arms each night.
Thank you, Koda.