Rated: K

Writing done by KristinGyaru.

I have always loved the winter. Ever since I was a small child.

The snow always falls in a randomly geometric pattern delicately landing on the vast quantities of its fallen brothers. Its pure white essence shone in my eyes, making it look as though millions of people were taking my picture as I walked through the icy field. The snow was pure and unspoiled; it lay perfectly preserved on the ground, undisturbed by foot prints or discoloration. There was a breeze, like a beautiful woman blowing a kiss though the crisp air. A snow flake landed on my cheek. It stayed there for a while before liquefying and running down my face.

I walked down the pure path, where no one dare tread, out of the mundane, and into the wild. I came across a forest of frozen foliage. The snow powdered the tree’s long arms, and icicles tried to escape form their overloads. I walked further and further into the frozen forest until I reached my destination: an old house that sat on the border of woodland and town. The old house could barely support its own weight, let alone the weight of the snow it wore as a white toupee. Its wooden planks were coming loose, the few windows it shown were boarded up, and the roof was disintegrating. The porch was barely discernable, in tatters, and covered in snow. I loathed the house, yet every day I ended up coming back as if it called me, as if I were a slave to it. I hated to look upon the dreadful place, but it held a certain mystery, a nostalgia. I wanted nothing more than to go to the house, open the door and walk inside. To have it finally reveal its secretes to me, and gaze upon the truth with my own eyes.

I spent about thirty minutes staring, making up my mind whether or not I should cross the undisturbed yard, and enter the ageing home. “Next time” I said while walked back toward civilization and back to the road that lead to my home; past the frozen forest, and away from the old house, and back to reality.

Going down the path they want me to, I walk on the perfectly geometric sidewalk. All but a thin layer of snow covers the hard bricks. The sounds of the world were powerful; the engine of a car, the television of the house that I walked by, and the sound of a busy street not one mile away. 

Finally, I arrived at my home. My parents died in a car crash when I was only eleven, that was two years ago; soon after, I was adopted by Jon and Kathy Stewart. I might not show it, they were all anyone could ask for. They were kind, loving and always had time to talk; although, something was missing that I could not quite place. Sometimes it feels like I am living in a room whose only source of illumination is that of the sun. All of a sudden, the sky turned black and I couldn’t see any more. Jon and Kathy act as the stars in the night sky, bright and always there for me, but too far away. Something was missing. It is that finial light that must be there and without it, I have no hope of gazing past the almost tangible darkness. I walked inside the house and waited, hoping one day the light would come.

The next morning, around eleven, I walked outside and gazed upward. There was a large dark cloud that loomed condescendingly over my head. A fresh vial of snow had fallen last night, so a renewed path was waiting for its soul traveler. From my house’s back yard I walked on toward the old house, into the open field, alone with the winter and her children. The air was still, and so cold that when breathed, the embodiment of winter almost became a part of you, and then, it quickly left you like the ghost of a forgotten memory. I was surrounded by the pure white essence of snow, and that brought me peace; the longer I was out here the more joyful it felt. I loved the silence, being alone with my thoughts, no cars or people talking on their phones. No television etching information into my memory, I was free to learn for myself, without anyone telling me what I should be thinking.

Just as I was in the midst of peace, a disturbance brought me back to reality. A loud sound cut through the air like a hot knife to butter and my heart lurched as I looked for the origin of the horrific echo. It came, again and again in patterns of two to three at a time. Like a man beating on an old worn out drum. I walked on, through the forest of frozen trees and to the old house, quickly now, having the feeling something was wrong. The closer I approached, the more signs I found, that other people were here as well (they must have entered from the street). The once pure snow was now tainted with other people’s footprints, while the tree’s arms have been savagely torn off. The echo was getting louder, blasting against my eardrums like thunder on a quiet summers evening and finally, I arrived. 

I was not alone. There was a boy wearing a black coat and pants who looked about thirteen. The culprit of the sound was none other than a dog, a pit-bull. It had a jet black body, but from its head to its neck it was stark white. I observed as the boy seized a piece of brown snow and hurled it at the barking canine. The snowball rammed the dog, staining the whiteness of his head. The teenager laughed at his triumph and tried in vain to hit him a second and a third time before finally giving up and leaving me alone with the vexed beast. 

His eyes, he looked at me with reflective black eyes; it was as if I was looking into a two way mirror that only slightly reveled the mysterious dwelling of the other side. He didn’t seem to enjoy my presence as he barked and barked while I just stood there, not knowing what to do. The house moaned as the dog pulled on the rope linking it to the porch. The aged roof of the porch released some snow that avalanched on the dog, washing off the dirt of the brown snowball. I looked closely at its eyes again, staring deeper through the cracks and seems of the two way mirror, I was astonished at what I did not see. I did not see hate or anger; I saw only peace and longing for some intangible thing. I saw the eyes of a being that was trapped in a dark room on a stormy night. 

“We have the same eyes” I said, and as if to reply, it barked. “Bark, is that your name boy?” Again it barked. “Alright, my name is Alex. What are you doing here, where is you owner?” The dog continued to bark relentlessly as if trying to answer my questions in a tongue I had no chance of understanding. “I am sure he’ll come eventually boy, but for now you have me. Don’t worry, I won’t throw any snowballs at you, I’m not like that. I don’t walk to the forest to look for something to hit, but to look for peace, even if I find it for only a little while. I know you are a good dog, trapped in a monster’s body.” Another succession of barks came, and then saying goodbye, I left and returned home.

The next day, and the day after that I went and talked to Bark. Sometimes other people were there too. They came from the street to throw snowballs and sticks at Bark. He tried, and tried to get away, but the rope that binded him tightly to the house would not let him, so he pleaded for them to stop. I said nothing at this atrocity; I stood off to the side and watched, and waited until they went away. 

On my fourth day of knowing Bark, a lady with her young daughter walked by the street next to the old house. The daughter had light blonde hair and bright blue eyes, with freckles lying just underneath them. She wore a hot pink fluffy coat, whereas her mother wore a black parka. “Doggie”, the child said in her innocent voice as she walked on the snowy grass, eyeing Bark with a wide grin. 

“No sweetie, that’s a monster,” the mother said with utter disgust in her voice as she walked on the sidewalk. 

I don’t know what it was about how or what she said that made my mouth act on its own. Maybe it was because the girl saw Bark as an innocent dog while her mother advised her she was wrong, but I yelled in protest, “What makes this dog a monster!?”

“What did you say?” the mother asked staring at me contemptuously.

“How can you label a dog you don’t even know a monster!?”

“Look at it. That hideous beast stands in its own feces, it barks at my five year old girl, and wants to kill me.”

“He’s hurt and distrustful, maybe even confused, but that doesn’t mean he’s a monster! He’s been abandoned by its owner and left here! He’s feeling unrivaled sorrow from separation so he screams for help, and all you do is turn a blind eye and call him a monster? That ‘monster’ has feelings too, people abuse it for fun yet they aren’t called monsters!? The creatures that hurt this dog for fun go unpunished, but because that dog pushes back against this outrage it is a monster? What if I tied you to a post all day and threw things at you while you yelled at me to stop in a different language? Does that mean you are a monster!?” 

The mother looked at me bewildered until she abruptly walked away; grabbing her daughters hand and taking the child without saying a word. “Bye bye doggie” the little girl said. My heart was racing, what had I said? I had never thought those thoughts before, never said those things before to an adult, but here I stand at the lip of the forest yelling at a person on the street. Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark, as if cheering me continued to speak, until I left for home.

A few days later I walked through the forest in utter silence. There was no wind blowing, no snow falling, and a single cloud eclipsed the sun creating an ere effect. I sped up my pace. Usually Bark would be barking, but their was no sound, I kicked the brown snow out the way and arrived at the old house. At first I didn’t see him, but he was lying down on the snow. “What’s wrong buddy?” I asked, but then I saw it. It had been a week since I saw him for the first time; the only thing I ever saw him eat was snow. Bark lay on his side, exposing his black malnourished breast. He was starving! Now he didn’t even have the energy to speak!

I ran home, as fast as I could toward my house. A trail of ghosts was left behind me as I kicked snow into the air and all over me creating a shower of white. I forced the garage entrance open, and ripped open the door which made it slam on the side of the wall. Running as fast as I could though the house and into the kitchen I, tore open the refrigerator and grabbed an old burger. 

I sprinted out my house and as if winter was guiding me, a gust of wind hit my back propelling me forward until I arrived out of breath at the house and Bark. He hadn’t moved since I left him, but there were now some people there throwing snow at him; covering him in dirty brown mush that looked like it came from the sewer. “Stop! Can’t you idiots see this dog is starving to death?” With my final reserves of energy, I sprinted up to Bark. Bark, with difficultly got up, sat facing me, and growled as I sauntered closer. “You have to eat Bark” I said holding the cold burger in my hands standing a mere ten feet away. One of the kids behind me threw a snowball and hit me on the back. I paid no attention to the vulgarity and focused all my efforts into feeding bark. I took another cautious step closer, Bark growled in protest. I was only five feet away now; every stride I took he snarled fiercely and told me to stay way, but I had gone deaf and refused to listen. I stepped closer and closer until finally I was knelling in front of him. He snarled, reviling his sharp, glistening, pearly teeth, but I tried to pay no attention as I focused on his eyes. The longing, he pain, and the misery, he could not fight this battle against the world on his own. I had to help.

I took one of the pieces of burger and audaciously moved it closer to barks muzzle. He looked at me, then at the food. The alluring aroma of the burger caused Bark to stare at it intensely. A snowball hit me. “Come on Bark, eat it” the food was now almost touching his nose then within a split second he snarled and bit my right hand! The pain was sharp and I could feel the rhythmic beat of a pulse in my hand. I couldn’t help but let out a yelp as I heard Bark growl with my hand still lodged in his mouth! Some crimson liquid fell onto the snow. Adrenaline pumped though my body and I looked at Bark’s eyes, and for the first time, he truly looked at mine as well. After what must have been an eternity, he released his grip of my hand, and lowered his head. I dropped the burger in front of him and he started to eat.

I staggered back to the path where the boys were staring at me with gaping mouths, another drop of blood fell form my hand and stained the pure snow with a scarlet glow. The boys were talking to me, saying something, but I couldn’t hear them. I looked back at Bark, he was happily scarfing down the burger, and I smiled a weary smile then looked down. Lines of crimson ran down my hand, I examined the puncture holes themselves. They weren’t deep; that was a dog that could rip off my hand, but it only bit in enough to draw blood.

I threw my gaze back at Bark and found he was already staring at me, with eyes black and translucent. For the first time I saw him, not as a dog, not as a monster. Not as a friend, not as an enemy. I only saw me. He sat down in the snow facing me and I swear I heard, with in the blowing of the wind, the faint whisper of an apology. It started to snow as I pushed the boys aside and walked away, not though the street where they want me to go, but though the forest, where I always belonged. 

Every day after that, I would take some food from my house and give it to Bark. At first I wouldn’t hand feed him, just throw the food in front of him; although, as the endless river of time flowed forward, I begun to get closer, to see him, to touch him, to see me. Every day he seemed happier, fuller, and more vibrant and his character begun to take shape, to have from, to have life. Until finally, I walked up to the old abandoned house, through the yard where only one dare tread and released him from the chain that kept him in in despair.

“Come on Bark” I said, but he just sat there and watched me, looked around, and beheld me once more. “What’s wrong, I know you don’t like it here, why don’t you come with me?” Bark only sat, whimpered, and sniffed the air. I kneeled in front of him, patted him with my right hand on his pure white head and looked him in the eye. He looked at me back, then at the ground. Eventually, he got up, walked a few feet, and dug in the snow. When he lifted his head from the bottomless pit, he held in his mouth, a glove. The medium sized glove was made of black cotton and hung loosely in his mouth. He dropped the glove, smelled it whimpered, and sat back down.

“Are you, still waiting for the person who left you here?” Another whimper and I knew my answer. “I know it hurts, the loneliness, the despair, the emptiness inside your very soul. You cling to the old feeling you had when you were happy in hopes you can feel like that again. I felt like that for a long time but you have to move on. Leave the past behind you, so you can discover your future.” He looked at me with black clear eyes with what I swore could have been a smile. He licked my right hand and I laughed at the warm feeling, it seemed, I found my moon. “Alright, come on Bark, let’s go home.” I walked away from the old house of secrets and memories and never looked back. With a moon shining by my side and the pure snow showing me the right path, I moved toward the darkness armed with nothing more than a smile and a friend.

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