Elias did it because he loved her. He loved her, and she loved that damned, godforsaken mutt. How many times he’d chased that creature down the street… he’d lost count. All anyone had to do was open the door the slightest crack, and Sparks was off like a comet. He always came home again, stinky, filthy, and happy as a clam.

This time they didn’t have any idea who opened the door. It might have been hurricane Sandy herself, beckoning the stupid dog to certain doom. In the downpour, Elias had no idea where the dog might have gone.

Fearing the worst, he turned down the side street that led to a little park. It was one of Sparks’ favorite places, especially the bridge over the tiny stream.

The stream that was currently overflowing its banks. The bridge that was covered in several inches of fast moving water.

Elias shone his flashlight into the water, but the driving rain prevented the beam from reaching very far. The sharp snap of a tree limb startled him as it crashed into the water upstream.

“SPARKS! Come home, boy!” he called into the wind.

He started to make his way carefully along the water, thinking that perhaps the dog might have been saved downstream where a log had fallen over the stream earlier that summer. After a few slippery steps, he lost his footing, dropping his flashlight into the torrent and barely saving himself.

Drenched and sore, he made his way home in the dark. The only thing worse than telling Liza her dog was gone would be having Liza herself come out and try to find out what happened to both of them. At least he had a chance of restraining her if she insisted on trying to go out after her beloved mutt when Elias failed to bring him home.

A low, mournful howl cut through the sounds of the driving rain, and Elias began to run. The sound was coming from in front of him, not behind him. When he reached the front porch he heard Liza’s voice coming from the garage.

“Oh, baby please, come to Mommy! I know it’s scary but you have to get out of there!”

Liza’s well-shaped backside greeted him as he slipped into the garage, trying not to let in any rain as he did so. She was practically in a fetal position, her head peering into some cavity between the wall and foundation. Pathetic whimpering sounds were coming from the hole. Pathetic enough to make him forget about how he’d almost died out in the hurricane chasing after the damned dog when, the whole time, Sparks had been in the garage.

He whistled, and the whimpering stopped. Liza uncurled herself and looked up into his face. She had dark circles under her eyes, but everything about her screamed that she was depending on him to make everything better, that she trusted him not only with her own life, but the life of that damned dog.

“He’s just out of reach…” she said as she got out of the way.

“Let me.” Elias said, wishing he sounded gruff but knowing his voice would never sound that way to her ears. He lay flat on his stomach and reached in. He felt something snake-like move and almost jumped out of his skin, then he realized it was a wagging tail. He grabbed, and was rewarded by a startled yelp. “Come on!” he grunted, pulling the tail until he could reach one paw, then another. The final pull was like giving birth as the dog finally popped out, falling against him and automatically struggling to get away again.

Liza was there in an instant, hugging them both and rambling on about how worried she’d been and how naughty he was, but all the dog did was lick her face.

As usual, they went to bed with a big lump of canine on top of the covers keeping them apart. But Liza had her ways, and managed to take the comfort she needed from her husband in spite of the impediment. And nine months later, baby Sandy arrived to remind them of that night.

This story is not related to any of my others. It was written for October Flash Fiction, and the prompt was the picture.

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