Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used a picture prompt:
As the night progressed, I settled on the sofa, curled up in Shane's throw. The puppy snuffled while I fumbled with the soft-colored fabric, but didn't wake up. Instead, it twisted into a ball and draped its fluffy tail over its back.
I caught myself staring at it. How relaxed it was. With its lips pulled back, it appeared to be smiling. Whenever I realized that, I smiled as well and jerked my gaze back to the window. My heart thumped against my ribcage and my stomach churned every time.
I knew I shouldn't feel guilty for enjoying watching a sleeping puppy, but I couldn't thwart the feeling I was doing something wrong. After all, Shane would never get to see this puppy. He'd never run his fingers through its soft fur or smell that peculiar baby scent on it. He would have loved it.
My throat hurt as I gazed at the puppy again. Shane wouldn't let it go—no way. He might have done a half-hearted attempt at finding the owner, but he would've been devastated if he couldn't keep it. I probably would've argued and been a complete dick about it, because I'd claimed no one could become attached to an animal that quickly. Yet, here I was, selfishly feeding the thought of keeping the puppy.
I slumped deeper into the sofa and stretched out my legs. The puppy moved a bit. It quirked one eye open, then yawned and rolled over onto its belly, sprawled on all fours. I rested my hands on its head and butt; the puppy exhaled a deep breath and went back to sleep. This time, I didn't even try to stop the smile.
We spent the rest of the night just like that. The puppy slept and I stayed awake, breathing in and out deeply, probably the first time in weeks. The puppy's weight was comfortable and its warmth seeped into me, thawing something buried inside me.
At one point I must have dozed off, because when I opened my eyes the night sky had made way for a glorious morning. The sun rose behind gray, long-stretched clouds, tinting the sky in a cascade of colors. Yellow dominated—a light yellow that bordered on white at the edges while other parts showed a deep, lemony yellow. The orange caught my eye the most—soft, like apricot,where it mingled with the light yellow while in other parts it was richer. A lovely sight that I enjoyed. I couldn’t remember the last time I observed a sunrise and liked it.
The puppy woke with a soft yip and a languid stretch of its body. After a long yawn, its eyes popped open and it bounced onto his feet.
I grunted. “Hey, you might be a pup but digging your paws in my stomach is a no-go, got it?”
The puppy sat, an interested tilt to its head. I reached out to knead the skin behind its floppy ears and it closed its eyes in bliss. Grinning, I said, “You like that, don't you?”
The puppy licked my hand while it clambered to his feet again. After barking softly, it jumped down and stood next to the sofa, its tail swishing from one side to the other. When I didn't get up right away, the puppy snatched my sleeve and pulled.
“What? What do you want?”
The puppy tugged and growled. Irritated, I sat up and disentangled myself from the blanket. For my effort I received another lick. Then the puppy bounded toward the front door. It whined and scuttled from one foot to the other and I finally got it.
“Oh, you need to go outside!” I slapped a hand against my forehead and stumbled after it.
As soon as I'd opened the door, the puppy dashed out and disappeared behind a bush. I froze on my doorstep—the puppy wasn't on a leash, what if it ran away?
My heart clenched and tears sprang to my eyes unbidden. Right. Can't get attached to an animal in only a few hours...
I took a couple of steps toward the bush, wracking my mind how I'd get the puppy to come back to me when a brown and black-furred ball of energy whizzed toward me. The puppy danced around me, barking and wagging its tail, and I hunkered down and grabbed its neck.
The puppy threw himself against my chest, rubbing his face against mine, and I held it tightly, laughing and crying at the same time. For the first time since Shane's death, I felt a sliver of hope, of maybe finding a way to live without him.