When I heard Mummy call me home for lunch, I felt a little twinge in my stomach. It wasn't because I was hungry, that sort of throb was more of a call, like a car honk from my stomach, telling me I needed food. This ache felt like a soft warning, like a black cat, scampering up the street. I've always heard those were bad luck. Or perhaps not.
Something seemed wrong, but I couldn't explain it. Was this guilt? Sasha told me that guilt feels like a monster is scratching at my feelings, burying me from inside. But what did I feel guilty about?
Furrowing my eyebrows, I called back to my mom, "Coming!" Climbing down my favorite tree, I rushed into my house, still trapped in my own thoughts.
Right as the front door was pulled open, I saw Mummy sitting at the dining table, a sorrow expression on her face. She peered up at me for a moment, exhibiting a forced smile. "Hi sweetie. we need to talk about something. Sit here."
She pulled one of the big wooden chairs closer to me, telling me to come forward. Smoothening my skirt out, I plopped onto the surface. Now, even Mummy looked sad, a bit shaky as well. Her hands were wiggling like worms at her sides. Perhaps she felt guilty, too.
"Is something wrong?" I asked her, fiddling with the wrinkled tablecloth at the table. It had a small rip on it, from where you had tried biting at the fabric.
Standing up slowly, Mummy patted my head, fluffing the braids she'd styled in the morning. "That depends on how you take it, love. But yes, I'd consider this a wrongdoing in fate."
I frowned, not understanding what she meant. Fate? That was new in my dictionary. Mummy had never said it in front of me either. I don't think that had to do with guilt anymore.
Sensing my confusion, she continued, clarifying herself. "You know how Coco went for his surgery today?"
"Yes," I nodded. Lately, you've been feeling so awfully sick, not wanting to play with me, hardly eating anything, and so, so many scary things. You even fell asleep once and didn't wake up until we took you to Mrs. Clark, the vet. It was a bit rude of you, because even when I tugged your furry paws and cried for you to wake up, you kept sleeping. Mrs. Clark said you'd had a problem, which made me feel a bit better about your behavior, but I forget what it was called. Inside blood? Oh yeah, internal bleeding.
"Well," she sighed, enveloping her sweaty hands into mine. "Coco didn't make it."
"He didn't make what?"
Now lifting me up and hugging me tight, she stated firmly, "He died."
After that, I didn't remember much.
"Hey, Erin!" I could hear Daddy marching up the steps, ready to "get some giggles out of me," as he calls it. But ever since Mummy told me about you leaving a week ago, I don't think I've even smiled.
Death was a weird, horrible thing, I'd decided. It comes up and swipes wonderful folk to its dungeon. Then, even the people who weren't the prey suffer, in the side of their chest. My heart hurt, even though death had left me all alone. That's what makes it so cruel. If it were to take my best friend away, wouldn't it be fitting if it at least gave me a heads-up? A warning?
I wonder where you are now, sometimes. Maybe you're happy wherever you landed in the stars. Hopefully you miss me, just as I miss you. You deserve to have a good home, is what I know, and that's what I wish for you.
Another thing you deserved was to have at least one part of you at home. I wanted to bury your body in our backyard, where the sunflower patch you loved was, but Mrs. Clark said it was too risky for other wildlife. That means I never truly had a chance to say goodbye, and now, since I don't know where your body is, I never will.
"Erin!" Daddy's voice shook me out of my thoughts. "Don't get so shaky, kiddo."
I stared at my blankets as I wiped my cheek, making me aware of a tear that had slid down sneakily.
"Y'know what? Let's go look at those sunflowers again, huh? They always make you happy."
Deep down, I knew it wasn't the sunflowers that made me happy, but how ecstatic you would be in those fields. Well, it would make you jump in joy before you got sick.
Knowing Daddy wouldn't take no for an answer, I climbed onto his back, letting him piggy-back ride me downstairs.
As we reached the back door, I could smell the tomato soup Mummy was making. She might as well mix some of my tears into it, there have been an abundance of those for a while now.
For a moment I thought I heard you barking, wagging your tail up and down at the sight of me going to the sunflowers, ready to join on whatever adventure we were planning to go on. It was out of familiarity that I looked back at your favorite spot on our couch, thinking that you were sleeping.
Realizing that you weren't there was a sort of stab to me, though. It was a reminder that you're not here anymore.
As Daddy stepped outside the door, it ripped me away from your resting area, dragging my focus to the sunflower field before us. I could almost feel your spirit, padding along the grass as you laid in the patch we called our special hideout.
Hopping off Daddy's back with a thud, I ran over to the fields, remembering all we did here.
The first day we brought you home, you destroyed the entrance to the field, feeling a bit attacked by the height of the large flowers. That spot which you had ripped over was now mended with the sunflower seeds I planted back, but we still avoided that area regularly.
In the middle of the patch was where we used to play fetch. It'd been a bit dangerous playing in the middle of the field Daddy spent so long planting, but he was alright with it. Of course, you had trampled over some of the younger plants a few times, but your adorable eyes could get out of trouble easily.
Once, I had thrown the ball so far that you looked like a golden blob in the evening light, retrieving it. Then, you became a little speck, like a star in the night sky. After that, I couldn't see you at all. I remember shrieking in fear, thinking you'd be lost. Turns out, you returned the ball back to me right at my feet as you toppled me over in a big bear hug.
Towards the very end of the field, where I walked for an eternity to reach, was your doghouse. Me, Mummy, and Daddy all worked on it for a few weeks before it was ready, tacking the bolts in and collecting wood from wherever we could. The hammer was always very heavy for me to carry, so I would use one of the toy ones that came with my handy-builder set.
Sometimes, while you were getting ready to sleep, you'd pull me into the little house, pawing at my shirt until I was laying down. Mummy and Daddy had been very angry the time they were searching for me till three in the morning, but I thought it was a lovely game of hide and seek.
Now, I crawl into your doghouse with even less ease than before, my long legs being forced to perk out of the small area. I stare out at the field we've grown together in, where we had the most fun times together. I wonder when we'll be able to do it all again, hopefully in our own sunflower field. It's the finest place on Earth.
You were the only one who could make me smile when I was sad, or laugh when I was angry. When I was upset, I'd come and hug you before anyone. I wonder who I'll cling to now. If you get worried, I promise, nobody can replace you, Coco.
That's because nobody can take away the days we spent running outside, in the hot summer or frigid winters. Nothing can blow away the nights we used up sneaking each other treats from the kitchen, avoiding the creaks of the house floorboard. Maybe none of those times would be special to me anyway, unless you were there with me.
I've always heard that gold is the best of all the trophies, medals, or awards anyone can get. Then silver and bronze. For me, you were golden. My favorite friend, my only friend: You were the best. Sadly, our luck wasn't. At the moment, our sunflowers look more silver than golden.
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I took up the challenge as to write about something which I didn't have much knowledge on, but I'm rather proud of how this turned out... To those who have lost a loved one, I'm genuinely sorry. I can't imagine what anyone in this sort of situation has gone through, so I'll set out that you're all very fortified and valiant to have that occurrence. I tried my best to demonstrate how one may have felt losing a pet, but if anyone has any tips or feedback, feel free to drop them below. Though you'll see this later than I'd prefer, I wish a ...
It's been a little over two-and-a-half years since we had to put down our cat. If it's something you haven't experienced, it's difficult to describe. It's shock, it's anger, it's a lot of crying. Sometimes there's blaming and guilt involved. It's a raw and all-encompassing pain, and everyone grieves differently. Some people can stop hurting over a pet in a few days, others take weeks. In my experience, I can't say I ever have stopped, only that it hurts less as time goes on.
Wow, it seems like it really hurts; I'd expect that considering pets are family. I'm so sorry about your cat, thankfully you've been able to hurt less as time goes on.
Very good idea to write from the perspective of youth and innocents. Heartfelt and captivating. Nice work. You asked me to suggest another one of my stories for you to read, I'd recommend any one that you choose.
Thanks, Joseph! I checked out "SPIRITUAL JOURNIES, OR DREAM?"
Well, as tragic as the story is, it's wonderful! My only pet is one snarky little Persian cat, who I'd give the world up for in a snap. This made me fear the day she leaves me, but the way your stories tug on my heart strings is what makes me come back for more. I love the "vibes" Erin gives off to the readers are: An innocent child, not yet tainted by society but gifted in their own way. Again, it's a lovely story! Keep writing!
Thank you, Mia! I'm glad you could connect to this, as it was one of my goals while writing. 😇
Hey, I LOVE the new profile picture! So cute!
Hello, Sana. I honestly can't remember the last time I read a story about a pet on Reedsy, so this was interesting and an interesting take on the prompt. I especially liked how you began the story with the main character feeling something strange and not right (though it was required, considering the prompt, the way you did it was clever). My feedback for this piece, seeing as you have a few days before the contest is over would be to go back and check the vocabulary. Writing from the POV of a younger character (I'm assuming this character...
Hi, K! I was trying to go for a more unique take on the writing prompts, without diving into an ocean not many readers could relate to, I'm glad that target was achieved! Thank you for the feedback! At the moment I have to tend to some guests, but I'll be trying to target every suggestion you added ASAP. Trying out a child's perspective in writing was new to me (but I was aching to try it out...) so I gave this one a shot. I'm genuinely grateful for any support I could get. Thanks again!🌻
Wonderfully written and touching. The narrative voice sounds so genuine as a child trying to come to grips with losing her friend. Great story! -coffee
Thanks Coffee! Good to know people are still reading this piece! 😁
There is such vivid prose in this piece - nicely done. I feel this story was so bittersweet. A young child trying to comprehend death, what grief that absence creates, but counteracted with the sweetness of the memories. I appreciated that you explored such a heavy topic through such an innocent lens of Erin.
Thank you Fatima! I've been thinking of trying out this topic for too long. Now that my piece has been executed, I'm exceedingly appreciative for any feedback. It's rapturous to know you liked it!
Loved the story! Definitely captures losing a pet well.
Thanks Randy-I'm glad you liked it!
I loved the perspective of the child. It was somewhat confusing to me when the child spoke about the pet's illness that it was in the 2nd person. I thought she was having a dialogue with her mother, but it reverted to the narrator voice. Later I noticed that the conversation with her mother was only the " Yes" part. Maybe the big paragraph where she describes the illness should be on a new line. I loved how you drew the scenes in the sunflowers. Very nice story! Good job!
Thanks Dragos! Reading back on it, I realize the switch to second person needed work. Adding the larger paragraph on another line was a great suggestion as well-It flows so much better. I'm keeping everything in mind for the next piece!
The family dog we had since I was a 1 year old had to be put down when I was probably around 15...such a sad story but so well written! Nice job with this.
Thank you, Jalissa! I imagine it must have been rough to lose your dog; I'm glad you could connect.
Hi Sana! This was an enjoyable read. I thought you portrayed the narrator's (seemingly) first experiences of loss and death very sensitively. :) For me, one of the hardest things about writing is describing feelings and situations that you haven't experienced yourself in a believable fashion, but you succeeded in doing that even if you haven't experienced losing a pet before (I've been there, it really sucks). The voice works well and the imagery is effective. Well done, keep it up!
Thank you Shuvayon! I'm glad you found this experiment enjoyable, I was bit unsure about it earlier. 😊
I really enjoyed this story. It was really emotional and I connected with it a lot. I saw your comment about how you don’t have much knowledge on the subject, but you captured the feelings of losing a pet so well.
Susannah-You don't know how buoyant that makes me feel. I didn't expect to do well with a touchy subject, but your words are very encouraging. Thank you!