Fiction: At the End of His Tether
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This is the first story I wrote for the first day of a Google+ project as part of National Novel Writing Month during November 2011. I’m not competing in the major event, but this subsidiary event organized by Becky Raymond challenges writers to write a short piece of fiction each day, based on a stimulus photograph or image. It’s called the G+ Flash Fiction Project.
Anyway, this is what I wrote based on this image below. The photo is by Evelyn Lamprey:
This is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
At the End of His Tether
He’d left a note, of course. It was quite brief, but at the end he’d asked his neighbor – begged her, really – to look after Sally. Mrs Donovan loved dogs, had two of her own. Sally would fit right in. He didn’t have to worry about that at least.
He’d bought the rope at the hardware store in Hannover Street, twelve feet should be more than enough. The clerk hadn’t asked him any questions. No reason she should, really. He wasn’t a regular there, didn’t do much in the way of home maintenance.
Back home, in his kitchen, he tried to tie a proper hangman’s knot. He’d looked it up on the Internet, actually. Amazing what you could find out on the Internet. Except for a reason to go on living, of course. You could Google that phrase, but all that came back was the predictable religious-oriented hogwash, 200,000 or more hits. Empty, meaningless, like his life.
Except for Sally, that is. She’d kept him going longer than he’d thought possible after Jenny had died. But there were limits on how much comfort a dog’s companionship could give you. And now he’d reached that limit.
The knot was tied. He’d made a bit of a mess of it, really. It didn’t look much like the drawing he’d found online. Typical of how he’d botched most things in his life. Still, the loop moved freely enough. It would do.
Sally was in her basket in the corner, looking up at him eagerly. She probably thought he was going to take her out for a walk. “Not tonight, sweetheart.” Never again, actually. Not that Sally knew that, of course. Although now she was whining and looking at him, staring deeply at him. She knew something was wrong.
He should put her outside, but it was cold out there and in a while it would be getting dark. And she’d have to stay out there all night, maybe longer. Who could tell how long it would be before they found him and Mrs Donovan read the note? But if he left her inside… That could be worse. What if it took a week? Mrs Donovan might notice after a while that she hadn’t seen him, but surely not straight away.
He hadn’t thought things through, obviously. He’d been too wound up in his own misery, he’d only been able to focus on his one mission, a way to bring it all to an end.
Sally whined again. In a sudden rush of resolution, he hardened his heart, stood up with the rope, and stepped through the door into the lounge room, closing it behind him firmly before Sally could follow him. In the lounge room was the angled ceiling which followed the shape of the roof. At intervals where the cross-beams ran there was space between the cedar beams and the ceiling itself, enough room to fit the rope. He’d been staring at those gaps for weeks, thinking about it. This was where he was going to do it. He stood up on the table and threaded the free end of the rope through.
Sally started to bark, and was leaping up at the door from the kitchen. She’d never done that before. He tried to close his mind to the sound, but it didn’t work.
Suddenly, standing there stupidly on the table, the noose dangling from his hand, he found he couldn’t shut out thoughts about what would happen to Sally without him. Would Mrs Donovan really take her in? She was on a pension, he knew. Feeding an extra dog might be too much.
She’s just a stupid dog, he thought savagely to himself. What does it matter if she’s taken to the pound, given away to some cruel stranger, or put down? Just a damn dog! A damn dog! She doesn’t matter. But then, but then…
The barking was frantic now. She loves you, he thought. There’s still one creature in the world who you matter to, who values your life. And she does matter. She matters a lot.
He stood there on the table for a long, long time. After a while he dropped the noose and climbed foolishly down.
He opened the kitchen door. “Come on, girl,” he said in a husky voice he could hardly identify as his own. “Let’s go for a walk.”
by David Grigg.
(C) Copyright David R. Grigg 2011. All rights reserved.
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