This is Day 3 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers workshop. We were to get up two hours earlier than usual and write non-stop–no reading email or scanning news, just write. It’s a lucky thing my dogs woke me at 6:15 am because my husband forgot. I dragged myself out of bed, then remembered why I was getting up and got all happy. I couldn’t wait to get to my computer because, for once, what I was writing was just for me.
We could write anything we wanted, and I decided it would take too long to sort out my long-neglected WIP, so I wrote a flash fiction story instead. It took me 1.5 hours to write it and proof it. It is just under 1,000 words, and I thought you would like to see it.
Farewell, Dolly, My Love
by Sandra Bell Kirchman
Sighing, Benny walked up the steps of his front porch and sat down at the top. She’d said no. How could she have turned him down? After all the practising he had done, the right way to court a lady, the affection he had showered her with. Surely, she had known his intentions. How unkind of her to keep on receiving his suit and his little presents, then rejecting him. Anger stirred briefly. She’d said she was considering her options but had decided to eliminate Benny as a prospect. He was too short, she’d said.
Anger dissolved as fast as it had come. No use getting mad. She was right; he was short…she was taller at the shoulders than he by a couple of inches. Height or lack of it never mattered to him, but he guessed females were different. He stared across the park to her house, wondering what she was doing now. The sun shone like a beacon of hope, ignoring his broken heart. She was probably sunning herself in her backyard. She loved finding a good sunspot to lie down in and let the heat bake her bones.
The favored suitor was likely that Frenchie down the street, what was his name? Monsoor Pee-air? Some silly thing like that. Benny had seen him running in the park, quite the athletic jerk, always running and jumping and showing off. But he was taller than Dolly. Such a shallow thing to break his heart over.
He got up, shook himself to clear his mind, deciding against going into the house just yet. He didn’t want to face anyone, least of all his family. If they sensed he was going through some kind of crisis, they would turn themselves inside out trying to help. He couldn’t face that sort of sympathy right now.
Trotting around to the backyard, he found his quiet spot under the burr oak tree right at the end of the yard. The property backed onto a golf course, separated only by a chain fence. Fortunately, no one was playing. Too early on a Monday morning probably. He was surrounded by quiet green, which soothed his spirit.
He sat and tried not to think of Dolly, the way her eyes shone when she was happy, the blonde sleekness of her, the cute uptilt of her nose. He shook his head. This was not what he wanted to be contemplating. People who noticed said it was puppy love and how cute was that? Benny knew differently. Puppy love, be darned.
And now his heart was in two pieces, still beating in his chest but leaving him less than fully alive.
Mom appeared on the back step and called, “Benny, come here. Mom has breakfast for you.”
The last thing in the world Benny wanted was food. He considered not going in. Without her glasses, Mom was nearsighted as three blind mice and wouldn’t see him if he stayed still.
“Benny, where are you?” Mom called again. Benny heard the irritation in her voice and remembered she had an early doctor’s appointment that morning. He didn’t want to upset her. Even if he had said goodbye to Dolly’s feeble “I hope we can still be friends” speech, he still had Mom and Jeff and Chris and his friend Angus a few doors down. Well, Angus was just Angus, and Jeff and Chris were still kids, but Mom was the best person in the whole world.
Slowly, he got to his feet and shook himself, then ambled up the path to the back door.
“There you are!” Mom exclaimed. “You haven’t been out all night, have you? You look bedraggled.”
Benny didn’t say anything. He walked past Mom into the house. He walked passed his breakfast and into the living room, reached the couch and lay down. Mom followed him and stood in the doorway for a few moments watching him with a worried look.
Then, grabbing her purse, she hurried to the back part of the house. Benny lay still. He could hear her talking to Jeff, the oldest boy.
“You’re in charge for a couple of hours, honey,” she said. “Make sure Chris eats his breakfast. And keep an eye on Benny, will you? He seems out of sorts…hope he’s not coming down with something.”
“Sure, Mom,” Jeff replied.
Jeff was a good kid. Benny had helped raise him the last few years. Mom needed lots of help, because Dad had been really sick at the time. He knew they all sort of depended on him.
As if he knew Benny had been thinking about him, which was a relief from not thinking about Dolly, Jeff came into the living room. He patted him on the back and murmured, “What’s the problem, old fella? Got spring fever?”
Old? Him, old? It hadn’t occurred to him that people might view him as old. Maybe that’s why Dolly had spurned him…but no, she had said he was too short, not too old.
Jeff scratched behind his ear and Benny couldn’t help wriggling with pleasure. His ears were nearly always itchy because of the hair that grew inside them. He loved having them scratched.
“You’ll be all right, Benny,” Jeff assured him. “Just relax and have a nap. Your breakfast will still be there when you get up.”
Benny sighed, sat up and scratched a rib itch, then stood and circled for a moment, looking for the perfect spot. He found it and lay down, nose tucked neatly under his tail. He could not think of Dolly later.