The flash fiction challenge set by Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch Communications this week is to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a boy and his dog, showing the value or benefit of such a relationship.
I have never really been a pet owner. I have had one or two goldfish and Siamese fighting fish over the years, but nothing for any length of time or anything that could be considered a pet in the real sense of the word. If required to, I could rattle off all the benefits of pet ownership for children and adults but none of these have ever been a strong enough inducement for me to take on the responsibility.
I don’t remember Son ever requesting a pet but maybe I’ve simply eradicated those memories. Or maybe we gave him a little sister when he was twelve instead. Bec, on the other hand did request pets and she had a few at various times. These ones were closer to real pets: guinea pigs, mice and rats; but not the puppy she so longed for. Fortunately, I was required to do little for them other than listen to her joyful stories of their antics and adventures.
I am more than happy for people to enjoy their pets but feel no envy of their special relationship nor any great desire for one of my own. I am happy to enjoy the wildlife that visits my garden: insects, birds, lizards and possums. They can look after themselves and require no effort on my part; a rather nice relationship, I think.
However sometimes I hear a story that indicates a value much greater than the companionship often described, and I view the role of a pet in a new way. One such story is that of Noah, a nine-year old boy who suffers from autism, and his need for a service dog. In order to help Noah get his dog Charli Mills has organised a flash fiction competition. This time the stories may be told in greater length, from 100 to 500 words. While I might struggle with the 99-word limit of most of Charli’s challenges, I am unable to enter the contest as I am on the panel of judges. There are just a few days left to get your entries in with January 31 2016 the closing date. Why not enter the contest, which has great prizes, as well as Charli’s 99-word challenge?
To find out more about Noah, his need for a service dog, and his family, visit The Honeyed Quill, the blog written by his mother Shawna Ayoub Ainslie. You can read about what things Shawna has been up to recently in this post.
Although I am not eligible to enter the contest, I am permitted to submit a 99-word response to Charli’s weekly challenge. Here goes.
The two young males sat on the step. They couldn’t see over the hedge to the park across the road but, from squeals and barks, they knew the neighbourhood children and their pets were at play. Each, with visions of their own participation, smiled as if the reality had come to be. Another life perhaps, but not this one, not now anyway. To an outsider both appeared damaged, confined more by mobility than garden walls. On the inside their hearts were filled with love, acceptance and compassion, happy with who they were, and with each other. Boy, dog; friends.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.