Friends for Life
My eyes were too full of tears to see where I was going, so when I bumped into the peer pylon it brought me up short and shocked. I wiped at my eyes, took a few more steps, collided with another pylon, and acknowledged my defeat by crumpling to the damp sand.
They had disliked him ever since the day they found him under my bed. “A cure, a mangy mongrel,” they said, but he was more. He licked my hand. He liked me. He was my friend.
I always told myself that having a friend wasn’t important, so easy to deny something you have never experienced, or have forgotten. Now, in a friendship for days, I knew the truth. Having a friend was wonderful, or had been. The tears started again. I didn’t want to lose him. My parents died in a car crash. My friend kept the loneliness away.
Aunt Betty shows me pictures of my parents, but I don’t remember them. She says they loved me, but I have forgotten their hugs or kisses. I have nothing that says I love you, except for my dog running his tongue across my hand. “He goes to the pound” they said. The truck had been on our street when I ran away, unable to face the expression I pictured my friend casting my way. The ‘love you’ look he always used.
“I hate them,” I sobbed once, twice, and then again.
Unwilling to be found, I crawled blindly, worming my way further under the peer into a rough made shelter, a place where no one could witness my sorrow.
Icy water brought me awake. I felt around in the darkness. Below me were boards and water. I must have climbed onto this platform before I fell asleep. Another wave washed over the wood shocking me. With my feet over the side of the platform I tried to find the entrance, but the fast rising tide kept it hidden.
My cage was triangular. Two sides built of slime covered boards attached at one end to a pylon, and at the other end to a free standing third wall of similar construction. In the blackness I couldn’t see a top. The spaces between the boards allowed me to climb, but squeezing through proved impossible. I climbed a wall, the water followed me.
“Help,” I called. It came out as a whimper. The freezing water had stolen my breath. “Help,” I cried again. This time my voice was stronger. On the third try I put my fear into it. It echoed beneath the peer and died away. No answer was returned.
Water lapped at my feet. I climbed higher and banged my head. My cage had a roof. A search found no larger opening, even though I worked my way around the other sides, touching, hoping, but finding nothing.
My next cry for help was a scream. The loudest, biggest scream I had ever managed. It reverberated back at me from the roof. It echoed around my tome before it died away. I heard it then, in the far distance, a long mournful howl. “I’m coming,” it said, followed by a bark, and then another. The water rose higher. I screamed again, and again, and again. Between my screams the barks grew louder, the water got deeper, until he was there.
The water reached my neck. With my fingers clinging to the top board, and my face jammed into a space between it and the roof, my friend licked my hand and then my face. The water rose above our heads.
© Dave Skinner 2014