Short Stories

Life: A Work Of Fiction

The bridge collapsed just as he finished it. The last playing card toppled to the table among the rest. He sighed in frustration. This was just how his day was going. First the baby sitter cancelled, then the cable man didn’t arrive when he said he would, and now when he finally found a way to take out his frustrations on a deck of cards, this fell apart too.

He took a few deep breathes as he heard his youngest cry out while his wife was getting a snack for him. Jason knew he had to get out for a few minutes or he was going to go crazy. He walked purposefully towards the door shouting over his shoulder as he went, “I’m going for a walk!” His wife was used to this, Jason had a stressful job working over at the factory second shift and lately he was picking up doubles trying to make ends meet for his family. It was all he could do to hold everyone together sometimes, but something had to give. His family deserved a break.

He had meant to just take a short walk over the bridge and back to cool his head, but as the breeze hit his face it felt good, and soon his feet were carrying him much faster and he started to run letting his thoughts push him harder. He usually got all his thinking done when he was out of the house for a few minutes and then he could come back refreshed. He needed this today.

As he neared the bridge, he could hear a sound that he couldn’t identify at first but then he paused more certain of what he’d heard. A small whine reached his ears, and it sounded so lonesome that Jason felt he needed to discover the source. What if it was a child? Whatever it was it sounded sad. Jason stopped running to listen again and this time what he heard was clearer. It was a whimper, it sounded like an animal. He had to investigate.

Jason rounded the curve of the metal guard rail, and followed a rough, but small trail down until he was underneath the bridge. The source of the noise wasn’t immediately obvious, but after a few minutes he discovered a small animal cage buried beneath a bunch of brush. Uncovering it, his heart nearly broke when he saw a very thin puppy sitting in the back corner of the cage. He could see that it was black and had probably once been quite fluffy, but at the moment this puppy was starving.

Jason didn’t hesitate. He grabbed the cage and hefted it up the trail, carrying it straight back to the house. The puppy for all the noise it had been making seemed to recognize a kindred spirit in Jason and stayed quiet the entire way. Opening the door, his wife, now finished feeding the baby, and putting him down for the night, sprang into action as well. Together they coaxed the puppy out of the cage, while his oldest child, Henry, started declaring a name for the new addition to their home. Soon the puppy was cleaned, fed, and named Mickey.

Mickey, no longer abandoned, was now curled up sleeping on an old blanket of the boys. Jason and his wife put Henry to bed and collapsed on the sofa in a heap, legs crossing over one another. Jason looked at his wife in her exhausted state, and imagined how he must look as well and suddenly realized there was only one thing he could do. He laughed, not just once but a loud belly laugh, so loud his wife started banging on his chest in case he’d wake the kids. Mickey, their newest addition looked up at him and cocked his head to the side, before settling back down to sleep again, which just caused Jason to laugh harder.

“This was a perfect day.” Jason said, as his wife just looked at him curiously and smiled, she was probably just happy to see him laughing again. “Let’s get to bed.” Jason said, and off they went. Sleeping soundly for the first time in a long time.

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