Pick Of The Litter

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

What Harry wants most for his birthday is a pet.

Cover image: pixabay.com.

Pick Of The Litter

I can’t believe it! Every year that I can remember I’ve begged Mom and Dad to let me have a pet of my own.

“No. We don’t want any more jobs to do, thank you,” had been my mother’s yearly response.

My Dad had been even more blunt. “Harry, you’re not old enough.”

I tried to make out that I was happy with the gifts, but I wasn’t. Bikes, toys, even computer games had no real appeal to me. I wanted a companion, a live one, for none of my school friends lived nearby and my home time was a lonely time.

Tomorrow I will be thirteen. A teenager! “Dad, I want a pet for my birthday,” I’d decided to be equally blunt.

“But Harry...” he began. I swiftly cut him off.

“I know what you are going to say, Dad; that I’m not old enough. I’ll be a teenager and I think that I could be trusted to take good care of a pet.”

“I’ll speak to your mother,” he said, passing the buck.

She came bustling into my bedroom later. “I keep telling you, Harry, I don’t...”

“You won’t have any extra jobs. I’ll look after it all on my own.”

She looked at me, shook her head then disappeared. I could hear them talking downstairs; not clearly enough to make out the words, but several times there was a raised voice. The discussion must have gone on for quite a while as I was just starting to drift off to sleep when my door opened. Both my parents stood there. I was too dozy to decide whether this was a good sign or not.

“We’ve talked about it, Harry, and taking in to account your new age,” Dad said, “we’ve decided that this year you can have your wish.”

“Yay!” I leaped from my bed, punching the air. “What will you get me? A cat or a dog?”

“Mr Falsham has said you can come over later and have first pick of the litter.” my dad continued.

I gave my mom a hug and would have given my dad one too, only he stepped back and ruffled my hair.

It was not until we were on the way to Mr Falsham’s house, a good hour’s drive away, that I realized they’d never answered. I looked at my dad’s face in the mirror, trying to decide whether to ask him or not, but in the end I kept quiet. I didn’t mind what it was so long as it was alive.

Dad parked out front of Mr Falsham’s cottage and got out of the car. I stayed sitting inside it, watching them talking until the old man pointed to the far barn and Dad got back in the driving seat.

“Isn’t he coming with us?” I asked.

“No. He said you are to take your pick and he’ll... um, see to the others.”

“He’s not going to...”

“What he is going to do with the rest of the litter is no business of ours, Harry. Just be happy that you are giving a home to one of them.”

We climbed out of the car and made our way towards the barn. Dad seemed in no great rush to shut the barn door behind us which struck me as a bit irresponsible. Surely they’d be able to escape through the door!

When the door was finally shut, there was not much light. How was I going to make my choice if I couldn’t see the litter? When Dad walked over to what looked like a locked chest I was even more alarmed. Supposing they’d all suffocated inside there, then what?

Dad reached down and lifted the lid. It was not locked then. As soon as the heavy top began to rise I could make out a mewling sound. Kittens? They certainly sounded very young. I tried to bite back my instant disappointment for I guess I’d really wanted a dog. Never mind, I’d still have a loyal and loving companion.

I stepped forward and tried to make out the bodies that seemed to be squabbling to get to the front and grab my attention. They sounded like kittens, but they seemed to large. Did young puppies make a similar sound?

“Careful,” Dad reached up and grabbed my arm. “Don’t get too close.”

“Don’t be stupid, Dad. How can I pick one if I don’t look.” I reached forward with one hand then gasped as I felt an agonizing pain rip its way through my hand and inch its way up my arm.

I swiftly pulled my hand back, but the pain didn’t ease. Something had latched itself onto me and seemed to have no intention of letting go. It was hard to tell the color of it’s fur, but it seemed black to me. All apart from the eyes that glowed a vibrant red.

“It looks like you’ve had your choice made for you,” Dad shut the lid swiftly, walked across to the other side of the barn and grabbed a cage. He took hold of my injured arm and shook the dangling body into it, then swiftly clicked the door into place.

“We’d better get you home and let your mother see to your hand,” he said, leaving me to carry out the caged animal. It wasn’t until we were back outside in the fading light that I saw it. This creature, my pet, was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It had patches of fur, patches of skin, small ears and a snout-like nose. It was ugly, and it was hungry. I could tell that by the way it kept opening and closing its mouth and exposing its razor sharp teeth.

I’d got a pet, that was true. A monster, a ferocious one at that, and it was all mine to look after. I made a silent promise to it that, in spite of our bad start, I’d do my best to care for it. Whatever it might take.

 


Submitted: June 10, 2020

© Copyright 2021 hullabaloo22. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Mike S.

Another excellent 'tail', Hull--woo--same old joke I've used 132 times before!

Wed, June 10th, 2020 6:11pm

Author
Reply

Thanks, Mike!

Thu, June 11th, 2020 11:49am

Vance Currie

I'll go one better than Mike, Hully, and say that this is a 'gripping tail', except it was most likely teeth that did the gripping. I think I'll stick to my stuffed bear.

Wed, June 10th, 2020 9:52pm

Author
Reply

Haha! Thanks, Joe. And I think you're right about the teeth!

Thu, June 11th, 2020 11:47am

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