True Friend


Moonlit Night, Ilya Repin

True Friend

He spends more time here than I do, Rex, this faithful retriever that comes to this shore every morning, before dawn. I come to remember Paul and the joy he found when hunting with his dog.

He always saw so much more in Rex than as merely a retriever. They were companions, best friends who spent many hours hiking the trails near our home, but it was those trails that brought an end to their companionship.

The day that Rex came home alone, whining, was the worst day of my life. His anxiety could mean only one thing. Paul most definitely had suffered some sort of mishap. I immediately went to my neighbor, Tom, and asked him to accompany us on the trail. I knew that Rex would lead us straight to Paul. And, he did.

Paul lay at the bottom of an embankment, thirty feet below the trail, on his back, splayed across a large boulder. There was no sign of life, yet also no way to reach him immediately. I waited there with Rex, frantically, while Tom went for help. It was several hours before a rescue team reached Paul’s body. By all signs, his death had been instantaneous. I was devastated by the loss of this man, whom I loved so much.

Ever faithful, Rex waited at the top of the cliff. He even accompanied Paul to the ambulance at the head of the trail.

And now, every morning, he lies on the lake shore, waiting for Paul’s return.

This my response to Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge #24: Moonlit night, with the painting  Moonlit Night, by Ilya Repin
. The word count is 256.  As always, Jane’s critique is welcome.

**As Jane has wisely pointed out, I originally used “wait” (waiting) twice in the last sentence, so I’ve changed the first to “lie.”  After all, it’s been said that one should “let sleeping dogs lie,” so, of course, waiting dogs should lie, as well!

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

33 thoughts on “True Friend

  1. Good story, thoughtful and gentle. Two things. There are a lot of ‘waits’ in the last couple of lines, so you have the dog ‘waits…waiting’. The other thing is the geography. The woman and the dog can’t get down to the body so they wait for the ambulance on the cliff top. So where does the lake come in, where the dog now goes to wait for Paul to come back? Wouldn’t be sit on the cliff top? Or is it because the lake was one of their favourite walks but the reader doesn’t know this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I see what you mean. A mention of autumn, for instance, could include both the earthy smells and the leaf color, adding depth to the experience. I was focused on the immediacy of the situation/emergency. And then, with these prompts, once I get past 200, I get hung up on the word count. The image being of nighttime, I thought of the lack of color (although, even the mention of predawn could refer to the effect of the moonlight).

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is tought to add detail in such a tight word count and you’re right to focus on story – after all, ‘show not tell’ is not always the most useful approach, especially when you only have 200 odd words or less to play with. An enagaging tale all the same 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Microfiction challenge Moonlit night: the entries – Jane Dougherty Writes

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