As Arthur left the factory he looked up to see the storm clouds gathering. Stuffing the brown envelope into his coat, holding it together with his hand as the zipper had long broken.
He had planned to pick up some flowers for his wife but there was no way they would make it, not as the sky darkened. Making his way home the wind began to pick up, Arthur pulled his coat tighter together. As the crowd of workers leaving the factory disbursed to go their separate ways the rain began to fall. He just wanted to get home, back to his place so that he could put the fire on and read a newspaper.
But the rain was unabating, Arthur could feel the dampness seeping through. He thought it best to stop at the porch of a shop. He took the time to relax himself as he sheltered from the wind and rain. Looking out towards the street, he heard a bump against the shop window behind him.
He turned around, his eyes met the eyes of another. The brown eyes of a puppy, looking coy as she curiously pressed her face against the shop front. Arthur’s face produced a smile, he hadn’t realised he was in the doorway of the pet shop. The puppy beamed, shaking her hips from side to side with it a fluffy tail. She was a beautiful girl, Arthur watched as puppy turned to play in the small enclosure.
The rain began to subside and he continued on his way home. It wasn’t far, even still he couldn’t wait to put his feet up. He opened the gate, unlocked the front door, took off his coat and set about putting the kettle on the stove. This was his time, to read the paper he picked up this morning, have a cup of tea and relax. It was quiet, a stark contrast to noise of the factory, the only sound being the gentle tick of a clock.
His eyes may have met the words on the page, but he wasn’t taking it in. He was thinking about the puppy, her playful nature, her excitement. Even when he lay in bed at night all he could think of was her.
The following morning was a much different day to the last, the dark storm clouds had given way, allowing the sun to shine brightly through the curtains of his bedroom. Arthur made his way downstairs and prepared his breakfast in the same way he did everyday. He found comfort in his routine, 2 slices of toast, jam and a glass of water even if it was a Saturday. After sorting himself out he was ready to go out. There was only one place he wanted to go, back to the pet shop. He had thought about how quiet the house had become, something was needed to bring back some joy and life.
He put his coat back on, making sure his brown envelope was still there. He hadn’t felt excitement like this for a long time. Having had all night to think about it his mind had been made up. However when he reached the shop front she was nowhere to be seen.
Arthur entered the shop, the shopkeeper saw the concern in his face and asked if he could help.
“Do you know what happened to the puppy in the window yesterday?”
“I’m sorry Sir, somebody bought her just before closing time,” came the reply. Arthur’s heart sank, he had missed his opportunity.
“She was a beautiful girl, but don’t worry I’ll be getting more stock in soon.”
Arthur was irked by the use of stock to describe a living being in such way. But he knew that to him she was only something to be sold. He thanked the shopkeeper and turned to leave the shop.
But before he could reach the door it clattered open from the outside. A smartly dressed man stormed in with puppy. She was dragged into the shop, the red marks on her skin showing she had been given a smack or two.
“This puppy is no good!” He said sharply. “I would like to return her.”
The shopkeeper stood his ground, “You can’t just return her, you bought her, she’s your responsibility now.”
“Well I can’t have her in my house..” his voice lowered, “..sniffing me and my company, down there.”
By this time puppy had looked up and seen Arthur, instantly recognising him. Her pained expression became a smile and her hips began to sway again.
Her owner continued, “What am I to do then, take her to the pound?”
“I’ll take her.” Arthur blurted, he couldn’t contain himself.
“Good luck pal, here you go,” and with that he handed Arthur the rope he had used to bring the puppy back to the shop and left the shop. The rope was tatty, it wouldn’t do, not for puppy.
“Shall we get you a new collar and lead, one that suits you.”
Puppy didn’t reply, she simply rubbed her face against Arthur’s leg. She instantly felt his warmth and compassion.
Arthur held the rope as he led the puppy to where the collars were. He picked up a plain black collar, followed by a brown one lightly decorated with studs. Then he found what he was looking for, a collar that was rose in colour with a small metal heart dangling underneath.
“Do you like this one?”
The puppy bounced up and down, it seemed she was in agreement. With that Arthur took out some coins from his coat, paid for the collar and matching leash and knelt in front of the puppy.
The rope was loosened and taken off, the puppy sat up proud as her new collar was fitted. She couldn’t help show her appreciation by licking Arthur’s face as he fastened the buckle.
“Come on then” said Arthur as he led his new companion out of the shop.
He still hadn’t got round to buying those flowers, so before going home he made sure to visit the florist. He knew Charlotte, the lady that ran the shop well. Every couple of weeks he would see her, every time to pick up the same bouquet.
“Good to see you again Arthur, who’s this gorgeous girl you’ve brought with you?”
He explained what had happened and that he hadn’t a name for her yet, she was simply ‘puppy’. He paid for the flowers, his money starting to dwindle after the morning’s expenses and took puppy home. Not along the hard paved streets, no her knees were becoming quite sore, but through the park. The soft grass was a welcome for puppy who playfully pulled at her lead. It had been a while since Arthur had felt relaxed like this, he didn’t usually have course to visit the park so it was a nice change.
By the time they got home she was filthy, mud and grass all over her. He didn’t mind though, he had thoroughly enjoyed watching her play. Arthur put some water on the stove and after allowing it to heat up poured it into the bath in front of the fire. He observed as puppy’s eyes watched him, with curiosity he assumed, as he walked between the living room and the kitchen with bowls of water. One time Arthur came back with the hot water to find puppy lapping at the water from the bath.
“Get out of it,” he chuckled, puppy smirked and continued to watch the bath fill. When it was ready Arthur picked her up and placed her gently in the tin tub. Arthur felt his heart opening further as he watched puppy splashing about in the bath in joy. He didn’t mind that water was getting all over the floor.
He took his time to wash her body. The parts that made her puppy, her ears and tail. He also washed her skin, her back, her breasts. Puppy closed her eyes as she allowed Arthur to cleanse every part of her body. He could see she enjoyed every touch of his hands on her as he drenched her skin, making sure she was clean all over. The marks on her bottom from the night previous were fading, Arthur was glad she seemed to have trust in her new Master.
When he was done Arthur lifted puppy out of the bath, wrapping her in a cloth. She allowed herself to be rubbed down, before escaping and nuzzling against the chair, leaving wet marks.
Arthur set about making a bed for the night in the bedroom. It wasn’t much, a box that he cut with his coat used as a lining. Puppy likes the coat, it smelt of Master and she happily laid inside. But she watched as Arthur got himself ready for bed in front of her. No longer did she want to be in her box alone. She whimpered softly to get his attention. He took pity on her.
“Go on then, up you come.” With that puppy leapt onto the bed and burrowed herself underneath the covers. Her head popped out from under the cover. Panting with excitement she licked her Master before wriggling into a cozy position. Arthur watched as she fell asleep, stroking her hair gently. Her body was warm, he felt comfort with puppy being beside him. Soon he joined her in slumber.
Sunday morning came around, fresh and bright like the day previous. Arthur was up early getting himself ready. Puppy was still in bed, sprawled across as wide as she could go.
It wasn’t until she could smell toast from the other room that she stirred. She saw Arthur sitting down, about to eat his toast. Sitting by his side she rested her chin upon his thigh, looking up longingly. A hand came down with a piece, complete with jam. Puppy snaffled up the toast eagerly. Arthur had anticipated this, breaking from tradition by making four pieces, two for him, two for puppy.
There wasn’t much time to sit around however. As soon as breakfast was over Arthur was getting dressed to go out. Puppy watched him with a comb curiously.
“Come here,” he said, encouraging puppy to his side. He spruced up puppy’s hair and tail, perhaps taking a bit of time to run it over her back. Puppy arched in pleasure, she enjoyed the feeling of being groomed.
With them both ready they set off, puppy’s lead was attached and she obediently followed by Arthur’s side to the church. It was still early, Arthur took her through the churchyard to the cemetery at the back. There he began to slow as he reached a headstone, the words easily legible but for the odd shoot growing up against it.
Arthur knelt, laying down the flowers he had bought yesterday. Puppy laid down behind him as he stared at the headstone.
“Hello dear, I’m sorry I haven’t seen you sooner. I know that you’ll be worrying about me, but I want you to know that I’m.. doing ok.” His voice began to stutter slightly, he felt the comforting nuzzle of puppy in his hand. He composed himself and continued.
“I miss you, everyday and I know it will get easier. I have someone for you to meet, I know you would like her.” He held puppy against his side.
“I love you dear, I will see you again soon.”
The church bells began to toll behind him and people were gathering outside. It was time to leave, Arthur picked up the lead and got puppy to follow.
“You’re a good girl.” he said as they left the churchyard.