By Akinwande Onadeko
His little beady eyes scanned the horizon as he watched people pass by. He was standing in the alleyway, pieces of paper and garbage strewn round him. The pile of cluttered papers where he had spent the night before now lay in a disordered clump as he had prowled through them earlier this morning looking for bits and scraps to eat. A distant noise soon brought him running on all four paws of his to a nearby building where he began sniffing about for pieces of bone. Luckily for him, he soon found a half eaten bar of chocolate discarded on the floor.
No sooner had he taken a bite than he was kicked at and shooed by a disgruntled man dressed heavily in a wool jacket. He yelped in pain and scampered back to the alleyway from which he had come, tail in between his legs, the chocolate all forgotten.
Safely hidden between two Dumpster cans, he began to lick his furry coat as if in consolation, he has had a difficult life, for crying out loud, he was just a puppy. A cool gust of wind blew past making him shudder a little, if the temperature dropped by a degree again, he would be dead by midnight. He moaned unhappily at the thought of that. He tried again but to no avail to scout for food. Walking down to the front of the alleyway, he looked at the people going home with happiness written all over their faces. They were all heavily draped in their fur coats and leather boots and less bothered to think about an abandoned scruffy puppy like him.
He shook from the cold as he imagined the warmth provided them by the heavy coats and jackets, shielding them from the onslaught of the chilly wind. They seemed happy and even looked so, their faces registered joy and excitement. He couldn’t tell what it was but he could feel it. Maybe it was the delicious smell wafting from the bakery opposite him but no one ever offered him a bun or maybe it was the sound of happy laughter emanating from the kids as they played happily on the street but none of them ever glanced or smiled at him.
No one thought about him, he was just a lost poor dog. Abandoned by his owners few weeks after birth, he had learnt to fend for himself, most times; he had been bullied by larger and stronger dogs. Their menacing faces and bulk always sent him running for safety. Another chilly wind blew across again, even colder than the former. He walked back sadly, thinking to himself that he had better find other pieces of paper to curl himself on, that was if he hadn’t frozen to death by then.
The young boy and his mother walked on in silence as they exited from the toystore. “Papa won’t be home for Christmas”, he thought to himself sadly. Papa was hardly home for anything. The melodious voices of the choir singing in front of the store, spreading good cheer into the night did nothing to lift his spirit. The happy mood and air was a total contrast to how he felt inside.
The streets glowed brightly as Christmas decorations were seen here and there. As he walked by an alleyway, his mother closely behind him, he saw something moving underneath a pile of papers. “Come back here, don’t go into the alley”, his mother called out to him but he had darted off already.
It was hardly noticeable in the dark alley but a small glint of light been reflected off from the store opposite the alley made it possible for him to see the movement. Under closer inspection, he saw that it was a puppy and it was looking scruffy and unkempt but he also saw that it was shivering severely from the cold. Immediately, compassion flooded his heart.
The dog would be dead before dawn if left here alone. The puppy looked at him with wondering eyes, ready to attack if the need arose. He removed a piece of candy from his pocket and offered it to the puppy who looked at it and whined loudly at the boy. By now, his mother was beside him watching what was going on. “Go on, you can eat it”, the boy offered encouragingly with his hand outstretched. The puppy licked it and then went on to eat the candy. “Mama, can we keep him?” he asked, hope shining from his eyes. She was silent for a while, thinking about what she had seen.
“Yes, we can” she finally replied with a smile on her face. He grinned back at her. Picking up the dog which showed little or no resistance, he placed it gingerly on his shoulder, covering it with his coat against the wind. The dog now cozy in the coat thought to himself maybe a little love could be shown to him after all. Later that night, laying in bed at the feet of his new owner and friend and with a full stomach, he finally understood why those people were happy as he drifted off to sleep. He knew it was much more than a celebration or a feeling; it was a gift and he had been given the best gift of all; a miracle- a miracle of Christmas.
Akinwande Onadeko is a lover and believer of words. He is a great enthusiast of reading, movies and music. Several of his short stories can be found on his blog: https://akinandthemindframe.wordpress.com.
A storyteller for all ages, he continues to write resonating stories which bridge the gap between the human mind and the environment crafting a perfect blend of the real and unreal.