ALL IN THE GOLDEN AFTERNOON

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story written for the House of Ten Thousand Exotic Rooms Prompt 1... All In The Golden Afternoon

Submitted: March 17, 2019

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Submitted: March 17, 2019

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It is a gorgeous, sunny day in August... my favourite month of summer. The mellow sunshine... that lovely soft, golden glow. The sound of tractors as farmers reap their fields of corn, the sweet smell pervading the long, summer days. I decide to make the most of the weekend, so throw my fishing rod, hiking boots and a few essentials into my trusty camper-van ready to head off to my favourite place. Major leaps into the passenger seat, his big labrador face, smiling in anticpation of an impromptu trip.

 

As I round the bend, to my left the glistening bay comes into view, fishing boats bobbing on the gentle swell while to my right, steep verdant hills rise up majestically into the sky line. Major starts to whimper with excitement, his tail like a flag at full mast, wags manically. “Yeah boy, we're almost there.”

 

As I continue to weave my way around the coastal road, I feel the tension begin to ebb away and my muscles relax. Beyond the sand dunes the beach stretches out for miles... Major pushes his head out of the window, his ears extended like wings, his nose breathing in the salty air. I pull over into a lay-by at the side of the road and open the door. He leaps out, heading straight for the familiar grassy dunes where rabbits play their game of hide and seek. After removing my sneakers, I climb to the top of the dunes, my feet sinking into the warm sand.

 

I whistle for Major, who bounds towards me, his face joyous. I fondle his silky ears then flop down in the soft sand and, with my head resting in my palms, feel the warmth of the golden sun on my face.

 

I must have drifted off, for the next thing I know, Major is licking my face. As I sit up and stretch, he starts to bark at me, insistent and hysterical. I follow him as he snakes through the tall, coarse grass on his mission, glancing back every now and then to make sure I'm still with him.

 

As he nears a plateau in the dunes, he stops and barks, his eyes pleading. As I walk towards him, he falls silent... his silence replaced by a weird wailing sound. My heart hammers as I approach the pitiful, desperate howls, pushing aside the dense grass. I gasp at the sight of a new born baby boy, lying on a stained towel, howling for his life. I gently pick him up, feel his tiny body begin to relax, then make my way back to the camper-van with Major at my heels. I reach for my sleeping bag and very gently lay him down on the passenger seat beside me.

 

I know the right thing to do would be to take him straight to the police or the nearest hospital, but I can't help thinking that I, no we, were meant to find him. My mind wanders back to Heather, how we had looked forward to having a family, that ultimate fulfilment, a product of our love that proved to be so elusive. We drifted apart... she left to set up home with a colleague, and went on to have two children in quick succession. As a man I felt a failure, for a time, my life spiralled into a haze of alcohol dependence, until Major came into it, that adorable rescue puppy who needed me, as much as I needed him.

 

Obviously exhausted from his short but traumatic experience, the baby is now sleeping peacefully. I drive the short distance to the convenience store, leaving Major to keep his vigil while I pick up some supplies, quickly tossing cartons of formula milk, feeding bottles, nappies and babygro's into a trolley, before driving high into the hills.

 

I pull up in a secluded spot to clothe and feed the baby and to think things through. After getting to grips with the intricacies of the disposable nappy, I then gently insert his tiny hands and arms through the sleeves of a baby-gro and finally fasten all the poppers to safely enclose his body. As he sucks greedily at his milk, a great sense of achievement washes over me. His curious eyes scan my face and in them I see his zest for life and fierce determination. Without hesitation, I know what I have to do. Major had discovered this poor child, cruelly dumped to die in those dunes, for a reason.

Major,” I say. He sits up, ears pricked and his dark eyes shining with adoration and loyalty. “This is Sonny and today the sun shone down on us for all the right reasons. You brought us together, it was meant to be. My family is now complete... you, me and Sonny.”

 

His tail beats out a steady rhythm, while his chin rests on my knee and, as if to add his own acknowledgement, Sonny gives a satisfying burp.


© Copyright 2020 Sue Harris. All rights reserved.

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