Author’s note: The first line of this story was shared with me by Jennie to help me break the writer’s block. Thank you, Jennie, for all the help.
Dogs know everything. The boy followed his Lab, his best friend. It was a different path and that worried the boy.
Usually Molly always took the same path for their walks. She knew it was difficult for the boy to navigate through unknown terrain even with her help. Not being able to see what lay ahead put him on the edge and, in his nervousness, he tripped more often. So, ever since Molly, a stray, joined his family, they always stuck to the same route.
But, that evening, when she stopped to sniff the air and moved in a different direction, the boy wondered what had changed.
She pulled at the leash hurrying him. He couldn’t run as fast as she wanted but she wasn’t patient as always. He wondered if Molly was after a squirrel but it was unusual. She never went after squirrels. She knew never to rush because he couldn’t follow. As he ran breathless and clueless after her, he wondered if other people were right and he should have bought a dog trained by the professionals.
She suddenly veered left and ran off-road. He tripped and fell. He thought she would stop for him to get up but Molly grabbed him by the back of his collar and pulled him behind what smelled like hydrangea bushes. He could feel his blood from where it trickled down his bruised right elbow. She licked at the wound and a horrible thought crossed his mind. Aren’t all dogs related to wolves? Now that she has tasted his blood, what was she going to do with him?
As he pushed her away and tried to stand up to defend himself, she jumped on him. He fell face down with her sitting on his back with all the weight of a grown-up labrador. He lashed out at her but she didn’t budge. He hated feeling powerless but there was no other option. He would have to shout for help, he decided.
That’s when he felt them–the dank wiff of cheap alcohol, the sound of several staggering footsteps and the reckless, cruel laughter. He didn’t know any of the voices but the fear in his gut intensified and his instinct told him to stay still as the raucous procession passed. He felt Molly tense up on his back in what felt like a protective stance. Suddenly, there was a sound of a glass bottle shattering on a tree trunk close to where they lay. Someone whooped at the perfect shot. Another challenged to try a ‘moving target’. He shivered with fear. Had they seen him through the foliage?
But they moved on to find that ‘target’.
Once the prcession passed, Molly finally got down from his back, pulled his stick urging him to get up and move back to the safety of their home. He didn’t know the path anymore after having run pell-mell to the place but he felt safe with Molly. She would never let him get lost.