Day 2: Tell about a character who lost something important to him/her.
As I always did, I laced my shoes up, put my ear buds in blasting whatever music I was in the mood for this morning–rock, rap, bubbly pop, alternative. I liked it all. This morning, the air was crisp. It reminded me of autumn with changing colors and crunchy leaves beneath my feet with every airy step I took. The only difference was it was summer and it had stormed for the past couple of days. It was nice to feel the cool air on my job; better than sweating my ass off in the sweltering heat.
I ran extra quickly today. There was a hop in my step. I was full of energy and ready to conquer the day ahead of me. Until that bump in the road, a dead animal. I almost tripped at the sight, gashing my knee like the gruesome tire marks across the poor creatures abdomen: bloody, oozing pain. The dead unknown animal–unbeknownst to me–was tiny, a baby at most. So eager to run into the road yet so naive as to move out of the way of the foreign box on wheels. With a sudden gasp, taking in the sight of the animal, I ran past eyes focused on the run ahead of me.
I turned the first corner, a fourth of the way done and feeling powerful, like I could take on the world. Suddenly, every tree had a white page tacked onto it. I tried reading as I ran, but I quickly became dizzy. I thought of the potential bloody knee I could get from trying to multitask. I stopped at the fifth one in and read:
Responds to Nugget.
Reward, if found!
The poor dear, just a kitten lost in the neighborhood, or maybe even further. I took the number down on my phone in case I saw little Nugget on my run.
Further down the block I ran, until I ran into one of my neighbors down the street. The little girl, Delilah, was tacking the posters to the trees, a forlorn look on her face. They must have recently adopted Nugget.
“Hey, Delilah,” I said, taking my ear buds out of my ears and stopping short to approach her. “I saw your signs. Would you like some help?”
She simply shook her head no. I could easily tell that she had been crying as she hung the posters, tearing up just from me approaching her.
“Are you sure?” I asked again.
She shook her head, this time, but her face distorted and crumpled into a ball of red-hot cheeks and tears. “I just want my kitty back!” she burst. “I only had her for two weeks and we lost her in the storm.”
The child couldn’t stop sobbing and blubbering about poor lost Nugget. I crouched down to her level to hug her while she wept, rubbing her back and whispering “Everything will be all right, we’ll find Nugget” to calm her down.
That’s when I remembered the roadkill on my run. It was tiny and orange-red in color, like lost Nugget. I gulped, wishing I could take my words back. How could a seven-year-old understand the accident? How would little Delilah take it?
“Promise?” Delilah finally asked, cheeks stained with dried tears.
I gulped again, avoiding eye contact. “Let’s take you home. I’ll look for Nugget in the neighborhood while I finish my run.”
Hand in hand, Delilah and I walked back to our block. She sniffled some on the way home, but tears were far and few between. As I dropped her off on her family’s doorstep, she thanked me for my help like the good little girl she was. I nodded.
“If I find her, I’ll bring her here.”
Delilah nodded as she went inside.
Instead of continuing my run, I went home. I grabbed a light coat, as I had goosebumps only wearing a tank top on the walk home, and an empty shoe box. I was sure of it, that dead animal was poor little Nugget. How was I going to tell Delilah? How do you present a shoe box with the carcass of a beloved pet to a child? I’m not good at this, I kept telling myself, but I have to do this.
As I locked the door behind me, I noticed a rustling in the bushes in front of my house, and the pitter-patter of paws on dirt. Slowly, I walked down the steps and tiptoed towards the bushes. Peering in, there was an orange kitten, cornering a mouse. The mouse saw me and scurried away, while Nugget pounced a second too late. Unaware that I was there, I snatched the little kitten and made my way back to Delilah’s.