Sunshine and Storms – A short story
This is a story I scribbled down yesterday afternoon (Sun 22nd September 2019) after my eye caught how the raindrops sparkled on my patio window doors. I’m usually a plotter, but this story just seemed to emerge and develop all on its own. It was fun to try writing in present tense for a change too! I didn’t have an idea yet for a blog post for today, so thought I would share this with you so you can get a glimpse of my writing – even if the style is a bit different to normal.
PS just so you know, the story is definitely entirely fictional/hypothetical! Hope you enjoy reading. All pictures are from Pixabay or Pexels.
Raindrops linger on the windowpane, sparkling against dusty glass in the early morning light. The soft grass outside shimmers, vibrant with the dew and the recent storm that cracked through the stillness of last night.
The air is left fresh and clean, laced with the scent of sweet hay from the farm down the road. The gentle notes of a guitar flutter from somewhere over the garden fence. White shirts sway on the washing line in the breeze, fastened with pegs the shade of the sunlit sky.
A dog lays on the paved patio, his head resting on crossed paws in front of him. He is heated by the sun’s rays, that had long dried and heated the stones beneath him. Weeds sprout defiantly in the gaps between them, relentlessly pursuing life. He looks restful, but he is not entirely content.
Beside the dog, a man sits in a wooden chair, uncaring that the seat is a little damp for his faded jeans. A small round table is next to it. From it, the aroma of scorching black coffee fresh from the pot reaches him, leaving the subtle tinge of hay forgotten.
As the man reaches for his coffee, the dog slightly stirs. He opens a lazy eye and cocks his head in his master’s direction. Languidly he rises, yawning and stretching with supreme effort. The canine’s tail swishes once behind him, loping easily through the air. The dog’s paws pad across the patio as he saunters the few steps to his master. He sits beside the man leaning his body into his master’s leg.
Then, with surprising agility, the dog flexes his head and a slab of wet pink juts out from his mouth, charcoal like the rest of his body, save a little white patch on his chest. The dog licks the man’s hand once then waits, his snout just in reach of his owner’s fingers.
“Good boy,” the man mutters. His voice is gruff, untested, as if he has not spoken in some time. The dog’s master sits slightly hunched forwards with an almost vacant expression, almost not seeing his sun-bathed garden at all. Something about the previous night haunts him, but it was not the storm. There are red lines beneath his eyes and there is a reason why he put extra coffee in the pot, but he was awake long before he heard the thunder starting in the early hours of the morning.
Indeed, last night the man had craned his head to the window, the curtain drawn back enough to for the flash of lightening to enter his vision, pure and white. Yet, he had let it come to his sight passively, absently. Then when the crack of thunder followed a few seconds later, he almost didn’t hear it. The storm had been far from penetrating the darkness of his thoughts.
The dog already knows something is not right. He sensed it as soon as he heard the slam of the door the previous night. Even before that, in the way his mistress had lingered in petting him, her features torn and heavy with untold pain. He had tried to help, flicking his tongue over her wrists while her hands stroked that special part of his chin, but his kisses didn’t prevent the slow journey down her cheeks. Not even when he rolled on his back, belly exposed, the slow soft thump of his tail on the carpet, could he stop her sorrow.
“I’ll miss you,” she had whispered brokenly, uttering her heart to the one who could not understand, no matter how much her faithful friend might wish to. Then the woman’s head raised, her gaze resolutely meeting the man opposite her. Anger sparked in her eyes, as hot and as potent as the lightening that would fracture the sky a few hours later. The dog rolled up to sit, aware of the silence between them. Of course, he had noticed a difference in the sounds from their mouths for weeks now. The immense variety of noises had long been to him, but never to each other.
The dog had let out a tiny, little white, as if somehow trying to bridge the expanse between them. The woman glanced at him, eyes softening into the love she well knew. The man inhaled sharply, as if about to speak, but the impasse seemed too great.
A moment later she was gone, tugging her suitcase out of the door without looking back. The man bowed his head. He and the beast both listened to her on the drive outside, already as far away to him as the other side of the world. There was the click of the boot shutting, the bang of her closing the car door. Then the car hummed to life and she drove away from them both.
Presently, the man reaches again for his coffee, but the bitter heat offers him little solace. He raises hand slightly to rest on his dog’s head, the animal he knows that will never leaves him. The man feels the softness of short-haired fur, the two ridges of skull joining at the base of his head. The slight dip in the middle, just at the start of the dog’s snout.
The canine thumps his tail once, twice against the heat of the stones, but he is far more subdued than normal. He has noticed his other best friend has not come home yet. He sensed too the way his owner trudged downstairs a lot slower than normal, how he barely looked at him when he let him out to the garden first thing, or didn’t talk to him when he shook the dog biscuits into his bowl for his breakfast.
“You’re a good boy,” the man repeats in a soft murmur, the feel of his dog’s head far more reassuring and comforting than the coffee in his other hand. He replaces the half-empty mug on the table with yet another heavy sigh. As he does so, there is a soft clink.
His eyes find and focus the only other object that had been on the table, laying deserted on the paved stones. It is a small gold ring, a band symbolising the promises the woman made to him. The woman who, for the first time in over five years, was not in the house when he woke up.
“She’s gone to her mother, she said, for the time being,” the man mutters bitterly. “I don’t know if she will ever come back.”
The dog gives a little pine, as if understanding his owner’s broken heart. The man bends to pick up the ring, lets it drop on the table. He traces a finger around the simple gold, unique with each slight scuff, marking the malleable metal. The man’s vision blurs with wetness, but he refuses to blink, even though it stings.
“What am I ever going to do without her?” His voice catches on the last word. The tears, welled up to their fill, begin to spill over.
The man coughs abruptly, then glances to his watch. Soon he will have to go to work, where he will try to pretend everything is normal. He is thankful for the storm now, because he can blame his sleepless night on that, if anyone notices the redness of his eyes, the bags developing underneath.
For now, though, the man sits with his dog. He reaches again for his coffee, too strong and too hot, on a morning far too strong, on a Monday morning far too sunny and bright. At that moment, his loyal companion cannot hear or comprehend the screams in his master’s heart, at the sheer wrongness of it all.
PS If you enjoyed this short story, then perhaps you might like to check out my two published historical fiction novels, telling the story of a Celtic soldier named Daniel. My first book is ‘The Boy from the Snow‘ and the sequel, ‘The Veiled Wolf,‘ came out a few months ago.
Thanks for reading!