Autumn was saying its final goodbyes and winter was rushing to fill its place. It had seemed an age since summer, the days of the months drawing out and sweeping together to create one blur of time. The golden leaves that had littered the path were now blown across the park or else swept away by children, intent on jumping into the pile of leaves they were building. The path was slick with last night’s rain, the smell hung heavily in the air, forewarning of more down pour, but for now, the sky contained its burden. A chill had settled over the town that was persistent in ushering in winter. Brushed aside, autumn grumbled. The thunder growing ever louder as the setting sun hid behind the cloud cover, the sky no longer set aflame with brilliant colours, as it had been last week.
The smell of imminent rain did not deter the last of the park goers. The young man and his dog seemed oblivious to the growing strength of the wind as they played. He threw the ball over the dog’s head- his laughter when the dog leapt into the air to catch the ball, carried away to the other side of the park where car doors slammed in an attempt to block out the wind and the sudden cold that had gripped the park. It seeped through anyway, through thin cracks in windows and under doors, darting inside before you could try to block it out. The cold found its way into every nook and cranny. It followed everyone home, oozing into their houses, finding its way underneath the bed covers, ready to freeze your toes.
Back at the park, the trees began to bow as the wind picked up further, but still the young man played with his dog. There was no real reason that they both braved the cold, other than that the young man had promised his dog a day of fun, rain or shine. The clouds began to let loose their burden on the pair. Undeterred, they simply moved their play underneath the thick trees that lined the pathways.
The young man threw his ball one more time before pulling back his sleeve- now damp from the rain- to check his watch. They had been at the park for hours- the small lamp posts that lined the pathways already lit- and he was hungry; the rumbling sound of his stomach enough to rival the thunder. He looked up, expecting to see his dog enthusiastically wagging his tail in front of him. Instead, he was at least five trees away, digging away at the large partially exposed roots. The rain finally getting the better of him, he lifted his jacket over his head and jogged to the dripping dog.
“What have you got there, boy?” asked the young man, patting the dog despite the wet fur that came off on his hand. The dog nosed the ground as if in answer. The young man wiped his hand on his jeans and brushed aside the dirt. A big fat drop of water landed on the back of his head and he looked up instinctively, the water dripped down the back of his neck and he shuddered. Wiping away the water from his short hair, he looked down again, to find what had caught his dog’s attention.
It was a locket in the shape of a heart, shining gold through the dirt. Lifting the pendant, he found that it attached to a thin gold chain. The clasp was broken and covered in dirt, but otherwise, it was in good condition. It looked expensive- there were tiny diamonds around the edge of the locket, and a bigger one in the middle. Inside there was a tiny mirror and a small picture of a puppy, not unlike his own when he had been small.
His dog nudged him then, head butting his shoulder to get his attention. The young man looked up, through the rain he saw two figures coming towards him. He closed the locket and stood - his dog close by his side. The figures came closer, a young woman- perhaps only a little younger than himself- and her dog- the same breed as his dog and the one in the photo. Her dog was now wondering around the bases of trees, sniffing here and there. The young man approached her, locket held firmly in his hand, dog by his side. She looked up from her own search and wiped away the water from her face- she smiled.
“Playing the rain too, huh?” she said before her gaze drifted to the pathway, searching.
“I promised him,” he laughed, running a dirty hand through his dripping hair, “are you looking for this?” he held out the locket and let it dangle from the chain.
She gasped and thanked him. She took it, running her thumb over the heart, wiping away the dirt.
“The clasp is broken, but otherwise it’s fine,” he told her, she smiled at him.
“You have no idea how much this means to me,” her eyes were bright, her smile showing off endearingly crooked teeth.
“It’s nothing,” he said, “actually it was my boy here,” he gestured towards his dog, who was now enthusiastically sniffing at her dog.
“Well thank you,” she bent down to give his dog an appreciative pat. He responded gratefully and licked her hand. She laughed. The rain still poured down around them, but for now, it did not bother any of them, least of all the dogs.
“I guess I might see you around then,” she turned to leave.
“I’m Alex, by the way,” he called after her, “and this is Timmy.”
“Jenifer,” she yelled, as the rain became even heavier, “he’s Rex.”
“See you around then, Jenifer,” the young man smiled, glad he had kept his promise to Timmy.
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