There was a contest. I submitted a story. I didn’t win. *sad face*
But, that means I can now share that story with all of you. *happy face*
Tommy loved baseball, and cartoons, and climbing trees. He loved his mother. He loved his math class. He didn’t know how to solve for “x,” could never remember the shortcuts for figuring out volumes, but he had did have a major crush on the teacher. For being twelve years old, he loved a great deal many things, and chief among them was Jake.
And that was why Tommy set Jake free.
Jake knew that Tommy was hurting. He tried his best to cheer his friend up, tried to dry the tears, to get a laugh, to ease his pain. But, nothing Jake did helped. He was saddened by his inability to comfort Tommy. Of all the people in his life, he loved Tommy the most. And he knew that Tommy loved him back equally.
And that was why, when Tommy sent him away, Jake went without whining or complaint. He knew he could trust in that mutual love.
He knew exactly what he needed to do.
Charles spent the morning drinking. He realized he’d spent most mornings drinking recently but he no longer cared. He didn’t have a job. He didn’t have any prospects. And, he deserved a bit of rest and relaxation anyway. After being the sole bread winner for twelve years he was owed a break. So, why not have a few beers with breakfast and a few more with lunch?
He’d seen the looks he’d been getting from Heather and Tommy recently. He hadn’t been pleased and had made them aware of his displeasure. Who were they to judge him?
Charles knew the drink had made it easier to let his hand fly the first time but, again, he hadn’t cared. Sometimes teaching lessons the hard way was the quickest way for them to be learned. Heather had certainly learned quickly not too look at him with pity, or sorrow, or anger in her eyes, hadn’t she?
And Tommy? Well, Charles hadn’t ever meant to hit the kid. But, his son was a slow learner. It had taken more than a few punches to get Tommy up to speed on what was and wasn’t appropriate behavior now that his dad was home all the time. Charles knew he might have taken it too far the last time, the blood oozing from his split knuckles was evidence of that, but the lesson had finally sunken in so he expected to never have to raise his hand to Tommy again.
And the lesson had been learned, he hadn’t caught a cross eye or loose word from the kid in over a day, so hadn’t it been worth it?
But, what is the kid doing in the yard? Why is he ushering the dog out of the gate? Oh, that kid! Great, now I’ll have to go track down Jake before he runs off for good.
Charles down the last of the beer in his right hand so he could set aside the bottle and pick up the car keys from the counter. Then he bounded down the front steps, throwing a few curse words in the direction of Tommy, jumped into the driver seat and brought the car to life. He swung into the street and scanned the road for any sign of Jake.
Yes, Jake had known exactly what needed to be done. He waited until the bad man was going faster than was safe for the residential road and then he darted into the street. He knew it was risky. He knew he might die. But, Tommy was worth it.
Tommy saw his dad burst out of the house and closed his ears to the words he knew he was too young to understand. Then Tommy watched in horror as he stumbled into the car, coaxed the vehicle into the street, barely missing the mailbox, and gunned the engine, sending the car barreling down the road the same direction Jake had sprinted off moments before. His horror turned to dread when he saw the flash of Jake run out in front of the car. He couldn’t keep the scream of agony from escaping his lips.
What’s that? Too late! Brakes! Turn the wheel! Tree!
Tommy ran down the street. A neighbor must have seen the crash because the sirens started and were drawing near before he’d even reached the crumpled car. He didn’t give the car a second glance. His only care was for the welfare of Jake. His eyes searched the road frantically. He sank to his knees when he saw his beloved dog standing just beyond the broken and twisted tree.
Jake saw Tommy running to him and then fall to his knees in the middle of the street and he ran to his friend and urged him out of the road. Streets are not safe places for children to be. Plus, the sirens would be arriving soon and it wouldn’t do for them to be associated with the mess around them. A few licks. A few nudges from his nose, and he successfully prodded Tommy onto the sidewalk opposite the wreck, and from there safely back into their yard.
Tommy’s mom met them in the yard, her hand covering her mouth, her eyes switching between terrified and mesmerized. Together, Tommy, his mom, and Jake, watched the fire truck and ambulance arrive and do what they could to extract the car from the tree, and the man from the car.
Later, when the paramedics came to deliver the bad news, Jake could feel fear radiating out of Tommy, and sadness, but they were different kinds of fear and sadness than he had been feeling earlier. There was a mixture of relief and hope in there as well. The tears were cleansing rather than painful.
Jake licked his friends hand to let him know that everything would be okay. Tommy hugged his friend tightly to him, because he too knew that everything was going to be okay.
The only stipulations, or prompt if you prefer, for the contest was that the story needed to be less than 1,000 words and a dog needed to make an appearance. I met those criteria, so I can’t imagine why I didn’t win!
I haven’t had a chance to read the winning post yet, but I will link to it as soon as it is available.
But, what do you think? Without having read any of the other entries, I deserved to win, didn’t I?