Angel

Angel

A Story by Clifford

Angel

Dirt kicked up as Roger jogged along the trail. Running alongside him was a youthful Golden Retriever with an uneven stride.

The sun was just beginning to set, casting shadows on the dusty hiking trail. A light breeze drifted through the area. Occasionally a colorful leaf would fall from the thick collection of trees on either side of the road and flutter to the ground.

Roger was a man just entering his thirties. He had dusty blond hair and hazel eyes. His face and skin practically glowed with health. He was lean and muscular from years of exercise and healthy eating. He jogged two miles every day. Including the distance from his house to the biking trails, the distance was closer to four miles.

Every morning, he got up at 5 sharp and started his trek. He had done so every single day for the past eight years. He always went alone. In fact, he did almost everything alone. He lived by himself in a small shack on the edge of the forest. He eliminated the need for routine visits to town by hunting and growing his food in his own backyard. The only thing he didn’t do alone was work; he worked at a local gun store with two other people.

He never considered himself lonely. He spent most of his time in solitude, yes, but that was just the way he liked it. He never gave his lifestyle a second thought. He despised the idea of sharing his days with someone else.

That all changed eight months ago.

On a chill January morning, Roger was jogging along the trails, exploring a new area and minding his own business. He often heard animal noises during his hikes--how could he not?--but never paid them any attention. But even he couldn’t ignore the sound of a whimpering puppy.

He slung his rifle off his shoulder as he approached the noise. He expected to see a wolf pup, and where there’s a baby, there’s a mother. What he didn’t expect was a tiny golden-hued puppy. It struggled to move its way through a patch of grass, its eyes closed. Its sad, soft cries filled the quiet forest. It had a gash on its rear left paw. On examining the wound closer, Roger saw that it went deep; it was a wonder the pup still had the foot.

Roger heard another, gruffer whimper. Little did Roger know, that whimper was the last cry of a dying animal. The sound was much deeper than the puppy’s, and it came from down the hill. He saw disturbed grass and made his way over. Lying completely still was an adult Golden Retriever. Its eyes stared blankly ahead. A chunk of flesh was missing from her throat, almost severing the head from the body, and she had deep cuts by her shoulders. The thing that disturbed Roger the most was the lack of blood; there wasn’t a drop to be seen anywhere. Not on the body and not on the ground. Even so, Roger had been hunting for long enough to know when a kill was fresh, and this was as fresh as they came. The killer must have still been close.

That settled it. Roger may have been a hermit, but he was no monster. He couldn’t leave a defenseless baby dog to die at the hands of some hungry bear or wolf. Keeping his rifle at the ready, Roger carefully gathered the puppy in his arms and briskly ran back to the town’s vet.

The dog’s wounds should have been fatal, but she got lucky; the injured paw had to be amputated, but the she would be fine. Roger, going against his better judgment, adopted the puppy. He didn’t know the first thing about raising an animal, but he had already formed a bond of sorts with this one. He named her after his deceased mother Angel and took her back to his place.

His life was never the same.

Roger gave up his hikes for a while in favor of caring for Angel. Despite her predicament, the puppy loved life more than Roger knew was possible. Even before she learned to hobble around on her three remaining legs, Angel eagerly explored her new home, crawling across the wooden floor as quickly as her little body would allow. Her small stature let her squeeze under closed doors and hide under furniture. Even in the darkest hours of the night, she noisily rummaged through the house.

Angel’s youthful antics quickly got on Roger’s last nerve. He didn’t ask much from the world: just peace, quiet, and a few hours of sleep each night. But that little fur ball took all of those things from him. He couldn’t count the number of times he was woken in the middle by the sound of claws clacking on the floor.

Despite the numerous sleepless nights, Roger quickly learned to love Angel. There was almost a sort of yin-yang relationship between the two. Angel’s sporadic happiness and excitement balanced out of the reliable dullness of Roger’s life.

One day, Roger woke in the middle of the night. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he knew something was wrong. He strained his ears, realizing what it was: silence.

Over the past four months, the sound of claws had become normal to Roger. It was always there, and it no longer bothered him. If anything, the sound was comforting and helped Roger sleep. But now… there was nothing.

Roger grabbed the sheets and was about to throw them off when he saw something at the foot of his bed. He leaned forward and squinted. Angel was on the bed, curled up next to Roger’s feet.

The two became inseparable.

When Angel was old enough to handle herself, Roger resumed his daily hikes. He kept them shorter than before, and he stayed closer to home. For the first couple weeks, Roger didn’t even go on the trails. He just jogged in the woods around his house, never staying out for more than an hour.

Angel, the poor thing, hated seeing Roger leave. When he left for work, she watched him go, her head and tail hanging low. When Roger went on his hikes, Angel tried following him, but she couldn’t hobble fast enough to keep up. Roger wouldn’t have minded slowing his pace, but he thought it was better for Angel to stay home; the terrain wasn’t smooth, and there were plenty of predators that wouldn’t think twice about attacking a lame dog.

Then one day, soon after Roger returned to the hiking trails, Angel surprised him. Just as he reached the start of the trail, he heard a noise behind him. He turned, instinctively reaching for his rifle. Thirty feet away, panting heavily and limping her way toward him, was Angel.

There was no arguing with that dog. From that day forward, Roger brought along Angel on all of his hikes. The two started slowly and were never out for more than thirty minutes. But before long, Angel learned to run and could keep up with Roger with little effort. For the next four months, the two explored every square inch of land within five miles of the house. It became routine for the two to wake up, have a light meal, and go hiking. It was a comfortable ritual, and they wanted nothing to ever change.

Only time will tell where their bond will take them next.


© 2017 Clifford



Author's Note

Clifford
(REUPLOADED)

Awared "Silver" in the "Battle of the Short Stories" contest.

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Featured Review

I think I read it last time too and it's gorgeous. I love the way you explain this special relationship. Will you be adding more adventures with Roger and Angel? They're beautifully rounded characters and your writing flows. I only have one suggestion to swap the word lethal with fatal. Always great writing Clifford! :)

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

4 Months Ago

I don't remember why I took this story down. I couldn't find it yesterday and figured I might as wel.. read more



Reviews

This is one of your best stories that I've read so far. I don't remember reading it before. The strongest part of your story is the way you convey tons of feeling by describing the actions, routines, surroundings, etc. The mood of the piece is ever-changing & is reflected in your physical descriptions all along.

People often tell me that I should continue a piece, but I try to keep 'em short for the lack of attention span on websites. But in this case, I really really wanted this story to continue.

Here's an idea for the first sentence . . . instead of calling her a "three-legged dog", it would be interesting to describe the way the dog walked or describe the footprints along the trail, to reveal this aspect of being three-legged, & expressing that in a more subtle way. There's so much for me to relate to in this story! *smile* Fondly, Margie

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

1 Week Ago

I don't know what came over when I wrote this. I consider it to be probably the best story I've writ.. read more
I think I read it last time too and it's gorgeous. I love the way you explain this special relationship. Will you be adding more adventures with Roger and Angel? They're beautifully rounded characters and your writing flows. I only have one suggestion to swap the word lethal with fatal. Always great writing Clifford! :)

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

4 Months Ago

I don't remember why I took this story down. I couldn't find it yesterday and figured I might as wel.. read more

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Added on July 12, 2017
Last Updated on November 10, 2017

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Clifford
Clifford

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