Creative Nonfiction Happy Contemporary

The crushed, stale, ranch doritos scraped his gums with their salty corners. They were his worst meal this week but it would stop his stomach from grumbling and that was enough. It had already been five days since he left his pack but he knew what he was doing. He knew he was right. When the bag was empty he wiped it clean with his tongue while he used his paw to hold down the corner. As soon as the wind picked up he took his last lick and stepped away, watching as the bag was swept into the street. Soon this would all be over. Without giving his lunch another thought he strode down the cement path making sure to duck behind a building if someone noticed him. 

His filthy white fur weighed on him like a winter coat sheltering him from the October breeze. The view of the forest was quite beautiful from where he stood. The trees were tall and leaned against each other creating large triangle looking holes where the muddy grass flowed up to a hill. In just one day he would be there, running up the hill to bask in the full moon. He salivated at the thought of being up there among all of the innocent deer, turned away, unaware of their untimely deaths. There would be so many of them. Much more than where he came from. He knew that for sure.

He jerked his head forwards and realigned his line of sight. He had to be fully alert at all times if he wanted to do this right. 

About a minute later he turned a corner and could feel his snout go into overdrive. There was a strong scent nearby that had grasped his attention. It was sweet yet bitter and he picked up his pace because he had to know what he was smelling. He knew what could happen if he got too distracted but there was no time to think when food could not be guaranteed. He was alone now. The smell was strong as he reached a creamy yellow house with a stark white mini van parked on the gravel driveway. The rocks rolled under his paws as he approached the wooden stairs with three large pumpkins sitting on the edge of the first step. The bitter sweet smell was intense as he sat down in front of the pumpkins, one of which had a triangle eye three times the size of the other. He opened his mouth and began to lick this weird orange ball but all he tasted was a waxy exterior. 

Just as he was about to leave he could feel something rubbing against his sides. His eyes dilated and the fur on his back stood straight. He smacked his front paws on the porch in an attempt to get away but in a matter of seconds he was scooped off of the ground. His heart pounded and he began to pant.

“Daddy, Daddy!” The little girl dangling the dog in her arms squealed. 

“Hey! Would you look at that!” The man smiled trying to hide his concern. “Why don’t you take it inside and I’ll call the animal shelter.”

“No!” Her scream almost deafened the dog. “We have to keep it!”

Her dad sighed and scratched his brown beard. “Fine...just don’t tell your mom.”

“Yay!” The little girl rushed up the steps and dropped her new dog on the hardwood.

The dog looked around with perked ears and sweaty paws. He walked over to the shag carpet in front of the leather couch and sat down. His legs were still shaking. 

Looking around at his insulated cage he couldn’t believe that his mission was over. All of those freezing nights and days of starvation for nothing. I guess his pack was right. It was just too risky of a trip and now he’d never see his family again.

The rest of his day was spent sleeping on the carpet while the little blonde girl danced around him. She screamed and laughed as she laid all ten of her bows on his head and trailed them down his back. Normally he would have bitten her hand off by now but how could he think of anything but that hill that would now be deserted on Halloween night.

“Maia!” The tall bearded man yelled sweetly. “It's time for bed, darling.” 

The little girl squeezed the dog with all her might and scrunched up her face. 

“I want to sleep out here with Fluffy.” She spoke softly and in the middle of a yawn.

“Sorry, but Fluffy has got to stay out here and you’ve got to go to your bed.” He bent down to lift his daughter off of the filthy creature and groaned as his knees pushed him back up. 

Maia waved at her dog as she was carried off to her room. “Goodnight Fluffy.” Her eyes fluttered as she fell asleep in her dad’s arms. 

The dog stayed glued to the carpet and pressed his face into the fibers, tickling his nose. He still couldn’t believe his luck but all of that was about to change. The creek of the crimson door boomed as he flung his head towards it. The wind rushed in and his eyes grew wide. This was his chance! He shot up and sprinted to the hideous purple welcome mat that scratched his paws but it felt like heaven because this was his moment of freedom! The chilling night breeze kissed his face, the moonlight sparkled in his eyes and the lady stepping inside deafened him. She screamed so loud he thought his ears might bleed and her shiny black heels would have made a dent in his ribs if he didn’t shuffle backwards. He was panting and the room was getting smaller. The lady slammed the door as the man sped down the hallway to meet her.

The next hour was loud. He spent most of it slumped in the kitchen corner next to his bowl of water that Maia put out. It was a shallow bowl with daisies on the rim. The tile was cold and the fan above him only made it colder. Every once in a while the lady would look at him from the dining room with her dark, demeaning eyes. He could see her arms fly up above her head every time the conversation got louder. She finally got so loud that she pushed her chair back, scratching the wood, and stormed off without giving the dog or her husband another look.

The next morning he tried to stay out of everyone’s way. It was clear the lady didn’t like him but now the man didn’t like him either. If he stayed on the living room carpet everyone’s lives would be easier. Not that he cared about these people but he knew that things would get loud again if he went over to see them.

“Good morning Fluffy!” Maia dawdled around the corner and plopped herself on the carpet beside her dog. She ran her fingers through his white matted fur collecting dust and dirt underneath her nails. “Today is Halloween.” She whispered while combing the dog’s thick wiry tail. “I’m dressing up as a bat and trick or treating with Rose after school. We are going to collect more candy this year than we did last year.” 

“Maia, it's time for school!” The lady called from the kitchen still wearing her red striped pajama bottoms and an oversized Hockey Night in Canada sweater. “I’ve got your lunch right here. Go put it in your backpack and meet me in the car.” She walked out the front steps while shoving a blueberry muffin in her face and slammed the door behind her.

“Goodbye, Fluffy.” Maia bent down and placed her lips behind the dog's ear. “After school today I’m going to take you trick or treating with me.” She then proceeded to grab her backpack, slip on her winter boots, and walked out the door.

Her words perked up his ears and stood up the fur on his back. She was going to take him with her...outside. He would have another chance to escape. The second she took him out that door he could run. He could run to that hill and sit beneath the moon. This was his do over to finally get what he came for.

The rest of the day dragged on while he ate the kibble set out for him and laid by the dining room window fantasizing about tonight. Eventually he fell asleep and was woken up by the creek of the door. Maia was home and jumping around with a clownish grin spread across her face. As soon as she finished flinging her boots off she ran over to her dog and sprawled herself on his back. “Hi, Fluffy.” He just now noticed that he was covered in a giant fleece blanket. “Are you ready for the best night ever!” The lady must have laid it on him while he was asleep. “I’m so excited but first you need a costume!” I guess the lady didn’t hate him as much as he thought. “I’ll be right back.”

When Maia came back she was holding a black plastic headband with bat wings sticking out of the sides. She sat down beside him and positioned the headband in front of his ears. Her hands clapped together as she stood and squealed. “Now we have the same costume! You’re the best looking bat dog in the whole world!”

Maia left again and came back a while later wearing all black with a pair of foam wings on her shoulder blades. She was carrying a plastic pumpkin that looked like the ones outside.

“Are you ready Fluffy?” He was more ready for this than anything he’d ever done. “Lets go!” Her face lit up as she tied her black sneakers and motioned for Fluffy to follow her outside. “Come on. Before mom and dad see.” His heart was pounding so loud that he couldn’t even hear the man stepping towards him.

“Hey!” The man grabbed the dog and pulled him away from the door, away from his freedom. “maia , you shouldn’t be taking the dog outside without a leash.”

“It’s fine dad!” She threw her fists down by her sides. “He’s not going to run away!”

“I’m sorry but you’ll have to go with Rose alone.” He pushed the door closed and picked up the dog. Walking down the hall to the bathroom, he could hear the dog whimpering. He set him down on the white tile and stood in the doorway. “Sorry, buddy.” He rubbed his hand between the dog’s ears and gave him a little pat on his side. “Maia loves you too much to lose you.”

As soon as the man left the dog paced the small room and scratched at the wooden door when he found himself desperate. His stomach turned and his paws were sweaty, leaving wet marks on the tile. Maybe if he whined loud enough Maia would come for him but it had already been a half hour and no one came. He stopped scratching, stopped pacing, and hopped in the bathtub with his side curled around the edge.

“Fluffy?” Maia called from the crack in the doorway. He sat up out of the tub and leaped over the edge. He sat in front of the door slapping his tail on the ground and his tongue hanging out of his mouth. “Hey, boy!” Maia looked around the corner for her parents. “Are you ready to go?” 

The two of them snuck out of the bathroom and inched towards the door. The man was nowhere to be seen as the cool breeze blew the fur on his face and shook the foam bat wings on Maia’s back. “Let’s go.” She looked down the hall as the dog stepped out onto the porch. He could hear the beautiful sound of the door closing behind them and the leaves rustling on branches. He looked over and saw Maia with her pumpkin basket then turned back facing the woods. This was it. He bolted down the rotting wood steps, down the gravel driveway, and across the street. His legs didn’t stop moving until he could feel the mucky grass on his paws. 

The hill was magnificent in the moonlight and the view of the stream below was glorious. He’d never felt so powerful. He looked up and caught a glimpse of the light and could feel himself grow. His legs burned and throbbed as they sprouted into long, muscular limbs. The hair on his skin turned grey and his teeth sharpened into deadly fangs. He stood up on his hind legs and curled his claws to release the tension in his snout. His eyes glowed bright and his hunger panged not just in his stomach but in every inch of his body. A howl erupted out of his throat as he gave in to the moon.

Nearby he could hear the trample of deer and ran as if he was a machine controlled by an external force. He crunched the branches beneath his claws and dug up the dirt as he gained speed. The deer in front of him galloped as he chased them down to the stream. They were fast but he was faster. Once the flow of water was on view he slashed his claw against one of the deer at the back of the herd. It fell in shock, twitching and failing it’s legs, trying to get back up but the injury was fatal. The dog turned werewolf knelt down and tore at the deer’s neck, snapping veins and popping vessels. It’s blood splattered on his snout and taunted his tongue. He sank his teeth into the meat he’d been craving for months. His limbs shook as his stomach was finally satisfied. He wiped his mouth on the blood stained fur on his arm and took in the sight at what he had done. It was beautiful.

Bolting back to the hill, he could feel his transformation fade. He sat and closed his eyes as  his body shrunk back into the fluffy white dog he truly was. Looking back up at the moon put pain through to his chest. His pack would never follow him back here. They never believed in him. They never protected him. They never...loved him. A tear ran down his cheek as he turned to look at the city over the trees. He saw the creamy yellow house on the corner with their van in the driveway. He saw the awkwardly carved pumpkins on the steps and he saw Maia shouting on the sidewalk, a river pouring down her face. Someone did love him.

He ran down the hill and marched through the leaning trees, back to Maia. Her hands cupped her face as she dirtied her bat costume with the dust on the cement. He picked up his headband that fell off of his head onto the grass in his mouth and slowly approached her. The headband dropped on the cement and startled her. She looked over and screamed.

“Fluffy! I knew you were a good boy.” She picked up the headband and placed it in front of his ears.

He wagged his tail and nustled his head on her shoulder as she squeezed him tightly. Maia wiped the tears from her face with her sleeve.

“Come on, let's go home.” As Maia got up to go, Fluffy followed her all the way home.

October 31, 2020 03:22

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