Historical Fiction Sad Friendship

“Joshua! It’s time for your meal!”

I dart towards the kitchen. From my bed, through the corridor and under the legs of my table and sit down eagerly at my bowl. I wag my tail as Elijah pours some dog food out for me. I was hungry, I’m sure Elijah was too, but he barely ever ate nowadays. I don’t know why he did so.

As I gobbled my bowl hungrily, Elijah caressed my left hind leg, the metal was still perfectly intact – ‘Fine German Engineering’ as they call it and it felt perfectly normal. I could have forgotten my leg was ever flesh and bone.

Once I finished my meal, Elijah took me in his arms and carried me upstairs. I could walk up the stairs on my own, but Elijah did it anyway. He liked doing such little things, I suppose it was his way of telling me that with or without my legs, he would still always be there for me.

He slowly lowered me into my bed, a lovely basket with a handwoven rug inside. It was so comfortable, I found it hard to wake up in the morning, but if you think a mere rug could stop me from getting up early in the morning and jumping on to Elijah to wake him up, you are horribly mistaken.

He kissed me goodnight, then climbed up on to his bed, which didn’t really look or feel comfortable. It was small, Elijah’s legs stuck out, and had no quilt at all. Just a wooden board mounted on four legs. It was closer to a table than a bed, but Elijah slept on it regardless. I once offered him my rug, hoping he could at least rest his back on it, but he smiled and declined. His smile was probably the most wonderful thing in this world.

The next morning we played Fetch. He would throw an old tennis ball, as yellow as the grass we played on, and I had to get it back for him. Sometimes I would catch it in mid air and then we would share a small laugh. I liked playing Fetch. It was quite fun and it made Elijah quite happy. The simple things in life often stored its greatest pleasures. I liked making Elijah happy, because once in a while, when he was happy, he would pull out the ladder, and climb up to the highest shelf in the kitchen and pull out a box from there. Inside that box, were a dog’s greatest delight – ‘Bone treats’. Each time, he would pull out just one and throw it into the air, and I would stand up on two legs and catch it right in my mouth.

Once we were back in, a sharp knock was heard on the door, three times. Elijah told me just one word, “Hide!”.

I rushed back into the kitchen and crept into a tiny compartment in the wall. It was a secret compartment that Elijah didn’t tell anyone about. ‘Hide’ meant I had to go stay in here, until ‘Safe’ was told to me. It didn’t matter if Elijah himself came into the room. I had to stay put till the word was told.

I could hear the men talking outside. They first muttered something between themselves in German, then switched to English once they started talking to Elijah. Whatever they told, I could not understand, but when Elijah came back, his dejected face made me feel the same way as I did in the war when a friendly dog walked right to its death.

Elijah did come into the room, with two men. Their footsteps were heavy and rattled the thin floor as they walked. Nobody could see me. I was doing just fine so far. Maybe I would get a bone treat today.

After a while of snooping around, they left. Elijah heaved a sigh of relief and then told the magic word, ’Safe.’ I rushed out from my hiding place and leaped into his arms. His serious expression faded into a little smile, but I suppose all what is done cannot be undone, and my innocent zeal could not take his mind off whatever those strange men had said.

As the days went by, the men came more and more frequently and the street dogs in the neighbourhood vanished off one by one. Elijah and I didn’t play Fetch in the yard anymore.

I was just wandering in the backyard one day when I saw my friend Bruno on the other side of our old green fence. I thought he had disappeared just like all the other street dogs, and yet here he was in the flesh. I went over to him presently to gather information.

“Joshua, you’re not gonna believe it, these Nazis are awesome! They kept me in this really big place, gave me tons of food, and even gave me this shiny collar with my name. They didn’t even hurt me once like those ruffians on the streets!”

That couldn’t be right. Elijah called the men who came to the house Nazis. I had never seen Elijah happy when they did come.

But then, Bruno had never looked better in his life. His shiny collar made me envious. He was even fatter than me now, and that’s a big deal because the boys on the street used to call him Sticks.

I stood there silent for a long time, wondering how to reply, but Bruno decided to offer some advice.

“You know Joshua, you should come with me too. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind me bringing back another dog, they have so much space!”

My little dog brain immediately underwent a series of emotions, ranging from disgust to horror.

“I can’t do that, Elijah’s helped me in every way-”

“Oh Elijah, Elijah, Elijah! You are a dog Joshua, you should be more worried about yourself than some random human being.”

A low growl escapes my mouth. My ears go flat. Bruno read my anger loud and clear and immediately went defensive.

“Okay, look I know all right? Elijah’s … been there for you when no one was. I couldn’t possibly understand such a feeling. I’m merely suggesting that, the Nazis will take good care of you. Just in case Elijah’s too poor to do it himself. He hasn’t worked in weeks has he? Surely it must be obvious by now.”

There was an uneasy truth in this statement that I wasn’t quite glad to acknowledge. I didn’t understand why, but Elijah certainly was living in poverty. He hadn’t gone to work in a long long while. He had stayed in and barely eaten. I had shut my eyes to his faults in a blind belief that everything will be okay.

“Well, I’d better get going.” Bruno says as he trots away merrily, after putting in front of me an agonizing truth, accompanied by a choice.

I was spared the mental strain when Elijah came out and quickly rushed me in.

“Joshua! I told you can’t go out! Bad dog! The Nazis will take you away. Jews don’t get to keep possession of pets any more,” he put his arms around his neck as he continued, “Why am I even telling you all this it’s not like you understand either way.” Frustrated, he went back upstairs.

But before he could go up, there came a knock on the door. A sharp sound, three times, the same as always. It meant those Nazi men were here.

“Oh shit! Joshua, hide!”

“I shut the kitchen door, leaving just a crack open. I wanted to see what really happens. They couldn’t see me from here and if need be I could hurry into my hiding place.

Two men in green uniforms stormed in.

“Sir, we have to ask you one last time, are you in possession of any pets?”

“No sir, I am not.”

“Liar,” one of them took out a rod and lashed at Elijah. I whimpered when the cold rod hit him. The other stood there laughing, while the other one beat Elijah, unconcerned lest he die.

“Sir, please! I’m telling the truth.” Elijah begged for mercy, even as cold strikes from the rod made him bleed.

“Shut up Jew!” the man spat at Elijah, “It is not your place to tell me. We’ll know for real soon enough. Pack whatever little you can, you have to come with us.”

“What? But where to?”

“The ghettos. Where the pest like you belong. We’ll be back tomorrow, don’t even try to escape.”

They banged the door shut as they left, tears fell out of Elijah’s eyes as I walked out of the kitchen and towards him. He was crying even as he took me in his arms.

“Alright Joshua, I think you should go with them now. They’ll treat you well. There will be more treats for you,” he stood up and opened the door, “Go on Joshua, I’ll miss you. But this is goodbye.”

I stepped back. No amount of treats could convince me to leave Elijah now.

With a few feet between the door and me, the perfect life that Bruno was talking about felt so inviting, but something in my heart didn’t let me move. Once I was gone, what would happen to Elijah? He couldn’t possibly live without me, right?

Elijah’s face indicated desperation. As much as he wanted to let me go, so that I may enjoy a good life that he will never have, he couldn’t quite make up his mind to do it.

We stared at each other in silence, neither of us ready to leave the other.

At last he did give up, and shut the door, “Come on Joshua, it’s time for your meal.”

My appetite wasn’t quite what I thought it’d be at my last meal with Elijah. He took out the box from the top shelf, and set it open in front of me. Three bone treats lay inside.

The sweet taste of treats were nothing compared to these painful bitter-sweet memories coming back to me now. I saw myself during the war, carrying bombs towards the enemy tanks. I was a smart one, I knew exactly how to leave the bomb and run away. Most of the other dogs were told to simply commit suicide with their package, but the end of my career as a bomber came when a soldier threw a grenade into the safe house that I was resting in. My life was spared by the supernatural workers above, the mysterious hands whose ways I shall never understand, but my left leg was blown away.

I limped through the woods in the dark, my employers had taught me no way back, except for that safe house, and now that it was reduced to ruins, I had no home, nowhere to go, so I limped on through the infinite woods, I must have fainted somewhere along the way, for the next thing I knew, I was with Elijah at a small makeshift hospital, he was sitting next to me, caressing the freshly bandaged leg. When he saw me looking at it, he spoke up, “Oh don’t worry Joshua, we’ll get you a new leg. You’ll be up and running in no time.” True to his word, he had indeed built a new leg for me. The most beautiful leg in the world.

Elijah used to work long hours back when it was safe, and I would get pretty lonely alone at home. That’s when I met Bruno, who was immediately attracted by my shiny new leg.

That night, I climbed onto Elijah’s bed for a change. He cried silently, worried about whatever the future held in store for him. A ‘Ghetto’ didn’t really sound like a fun place. As a cold night wind made us shiver, I thanked him for all that he had done for me.

The next morning, Elijah took me out threw the backside, “Alright Joshua,” he said as he tossed a stick, “Go Fetch!”

For my last game of Fetch, I ran as fast as I could, leaped over the fence and raced into the woods, I wanted to see him smile one last time. He would, if I got the stick back fast enough. I’m sure of it.

But when I returned, the house was set ablaze, and Elijah was nowhere to be seen in the crimson flames that were his chariot to the heavens.

March 26, 2020 17:20

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Shirley Medhurst
15:05 Mar 28, 2020

Heart-breaking! Well done


Aniruddh Pramod
04:42 Mar 29, 2020

Thank you! I'm delighted that this story came out this well.


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Graham Kinross
05:49 Apr 13, 2022

That was brilliant, harsh but brilliant.


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Adrian Rodriguez
15:58 Apr 29, 2021

wow, amazing story, truly heartbreaking almost brought tears to my eyes lol.


Aniruddh Pramod
17:28 May 17, 2021

Thank you!


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Mishka Stennett
19:16 Mar 30, 2020

Great story..brought tears to my eyes


Aniruddh Pramod
08:34 Mar 31, 2020

Thank you so much!


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Takora M.
02:48 Mar 29, 2020

Wow. This was so beautiful. I can't even say anything else. You have just given this aspiring 14 year old story writer some great inspiration. Well done!!!


Aniruddh Pramod
04:39 Mar 29, 2020

Thank you so much! I'm so happy that my story inspired you!


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Christopher Todd
17:40 Mar 28, 2020

Very well done. Love that it was told from a totally different perspective. Not my usual genre choice but loved it just the same.


Aniruddh Pramod
04:42 Mar 29, 2020

It did take a bit of thought, but yes I did want to write something about life in Nazi Germany, and this prompt was the perfect opportunity. I'm glad you liked it!


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