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Image by Raoul Croes


January 3, 2021

I’ve started the past few years of by entering a short story competition. This is another one for the Australian Writer’s Centre Flash Fiction competition. Submitted, nothing happened, but another story for a collection one day. No real insight or strong feelings, but here it is.
Criteria: 500 words, your story must begin at sunrise, you must use the following words somewhere in your story: SIGNATURE, PATIENT, BICYCLE. Must include a character who has to make a CHOICE.

Doggone: Work

Arthur’s legs burned and his lungs ached as he rode the hill's final section towards the 24/7 veterinary clinic. 

He tore his eyes from the road and snuck another glance in the basket at Lady, his wife, Evie’s, beloved Pomeranian. 

The small orange dog was still lying on her side, panting and unresponsive. 

The sun peaked over the horizon, lit hundreds of tiny clouds clustered like a discarded bag of orange cotton balls. Floating Pomeranians.

Reflected in the expressionless glazed eyes of the dog, Evie’s heartbreak. 

Sweat-drenched, his heart jackhammered as he willed the clinic to appear over the endless incline. 

A few pained yelps from the basket. He ignored the pain and focused on the summit. 

Finally, the gigantic, white sign appeared as he crested the hill.

He rode up the gutter, rested the bicycle against the building's front wall and picked up the dead weight of the tiny fluffball.

Lady had put on weight over the past few weeks, but so had Arthur. He’d popped to the RSL on a few extra occasions, always with a doggie bag and buffet leftovers for Lady.

He pressed the small green button. 

A tinny voice. “Woolloongabba animal emergency.”

Without a breath, Arthur explained how he’d left a bar of chocolate on the coffee table and fallen asleep in front of the TV, when he woke, the chocolate was gone and Lady spewed on the carpet in the ‘good room,’ and her stomach was all swollen, he’d panicked, hence the reason he was wearing the cowboy pyjamas he’d gotten for Xmas, and ridding his teenage granddaughter’s pink, sparkly bicycle, because Evie took the car to visit her sister in Sydney, and he'd meticulously followed the instructions on the fridge, but now his marriage was down the gurgler because he wanted a bloody bar of chocolate.

A tired woman in pale, green scrubs rushed outside and took Lady from Arthur’s arms before he’d finished rambling, and disappeared into the back.

Sawdust and cleaning chemicals invaded Arthur’s nostrils as he crossed towards the front desk and dinged the bell.

The same woman appeared, with a clipboard.

“I’m going to need Lady’s information on this admission form, your signature at the bottom.”

He grabbed the clipboard. “My wife loves that dog. Please save her.”

“We’ll do what we can.”

Arthur paced the linoleum floors like an expectant parent. Seconds crawled. Minutes crept. A hollowness opened in his chest as he contemplated the early-morning phone call to Evie. He’d chewed his fingernails to the nub by the time the vet came out ten minutes later.

“Sir, you’re Lady’s dad?”

“I, uh, yes.”

“It was the right decision to bring her,” she paused, “You have an important choice to make.”

His heart sank as he thought about delivering the news to Evie.

“Will you be bringing the puppies home with you?”

She smiled, and despite Arthur’s shock, so did he.

He’d have to make that phone call after all.

Doggone: Text
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