The Painted Dog Prompt 2/15/22 was a super fun writing challenge posted on the Stine Writing Blog! This is what I wrote:
The clank of the heavy door echoed through the building, followed by several footsteps. My ears perked only halfway, my heart thumping, but not like the newbie in the next cell.
“Keep it down, Rover ten, or whatever they call you!” I half-headedly barked. “You’ll be in here with me for probably the rest of your life. I know I have a life sentence.” My head dropped and rested on the cold hard floor as the footsteps neared. I tried to close my eyes against the real agony of the emptiness of not having a real home—the real heartache of knowing no one will ever love me.
“Hey, Dad, what about this one? She’s cute, and she doesn’t seem to bark or jump,” the little girl’s voice echoed in the hall.
“Well, I’m not sure about this one. She looks like one of those dogs that fights other dogs,” the dad said as he read the papers hanging on the prison door.
An odd feeling flushed over me. My nose must have been confused, but the scent seemed so close. My gut said, Open your eyes. As if lifting a vault door, my eyelids slowly slid half open to look through the bars that kept me locked inside. I should have known I wasn’t the one she was asking about. It will never be me.
Clink, rattle, clunk.
Oh, great. They are going into another dog’s cage to taunt them. Then they too will feel the great tsunami of hopeful love and then as quickly as it crashed in, it will wash away, gone forever.
“Ginger. Ginger, there’s a family here to see you,” the familiar voice echoed around the hard cold building.
Wait, they call me Ginger. That was my door rattling! My nose didn’t deceive me!
A little girl with pink bows in her hair stood near her father’s side, staring at me. Her toothless smile took me by surprise, but I could feel her caged up emotions shaking inside her tiny little body. My butt began to wiggle. I couldn’t control my urge, so I slowly moved toward this child. I skootched, crawling closer and closer but never standing up. I whined a little, unable to hold it in.
This could be my chance, not only for freedom but for a family of my own.
But they left after loving on me. I again was passed up. How could I fall for that again? My heart slowed, and my eyelids grew heavy once more. I felt the cold hard floor and knew this was my life. Days pass by like molten lava rivers flowing underground—extremely slow!
“Ginger! Ginger!” I heard from a distance, but all the energy from my body was gone. I couldn’t muster the oomph to even think, What?!
My eyes widened as the strangers placed a new pink collar around my neck, and my nose crinkled at the smell of fresh air as we walked through the doors I had long forgotten from when I’d crossed the threshold in the opposite direction.
“Ginger, jump!” The man patted the soft floor in his motor vehicle that he called an SUV and encouraged me to get inside. Any other day, my gut would have said, No, but his eyes were warm and the SUV smelled familiar. It smelled like the little girl he called Elizabeth. My butt began to wiggle. I couldn’t help myself and whined and when he patted the floor one more time. I leaped up into the SUV, and we drove away. At that moment, I prayed that would be the last time I saw the place I called jail. And here I am now—I have a family! My best friend is Elizabeth, and she loves me so much that today she made me into a Valentine’s Day card! Pink and blue hearts painted in permanent marker all over my short white hair. I can’t wait to see her parents’ face when they wake up. I’m a true masterpiece of love.
One month later, I thought back to the life I’d dreamt of all those years ago and wondered if that life was only the made-up stories of young, cute, cheery dogs who briefly visited the cold dark place where I’d slept for all those years. The dreams were nothing compared to the life I lived today.
Author’s Note: the Stine Writing Blog “poetry, positivity and connecting” on Word Press is worth checking out!