The Path Not Taken
By A.J. Brown
Why couldn’t Myra give in just this once? It’s always her way. My way or the highway, as she liked to say. Sometimes that’s not such a good idea.
Myra, my one true love and my biggest pain in the butt all rolled up into one person; always telling me what to do, when to eat and even when to go to bed. I always did as she said. I didn’t really care for the way she gets when she doesn’t get things her way. Little did she know I would get up in the middle of the night after she had gone to bed and eat what I didn’t from the night before or stroll around the house, seeing what I could get into, just to defy her a bit.
“Let’s go this way,” she said and began down a not so worn path in the woods.
I didn’t want to go in that direction. I had a funny feeling something was wrong and those feelings were usually accurate. One time a storm was brewing way off in the distance. I tried to warn her but she wouldn’t listen. She never did.
“There ain’t a cloud in the sky,” she said, even looked up for emphasis. “Quit your whining and come on. It ain’t gonna do anything.” She was wrong and we both liked to drown when that storm hit, and the pond rose too fast and swept our feet out from under us.
This time I tried to get her to go in the other direction, on a path that was a little well-worn and easily identifiable. It was a path I had been along many times with Rhett.
“Fred, we’re going this way,” she insisted. “Don’t fight me on this.”
I let out a deep breath and shook my head slightly. This is not going to be good. I could smell something terrible about to happen. I held my ground and refused to budge. I even backed away a little.
“Fred, come on,” she all but growled. “It’s about to rain and we’re going to get soaked if you don’t get a move on.”
I looked toward the sky. Gray clouds gave way to black ones. This was not good. Not good at all. The first rain drops hit me and my hair stood on end. I hate storms. I hate them, hate them, hate them. Then came streaks of lightening and loud thunder claps.
“Fred, let’s go.”
With the rain pouring down I still refused to go with her. I looked back in the direction I thought was safe. She was going to have to drag me or carry me if she wanted me to go with her.
“Fine,” she snapped. “Stay here, then. Don’t bother coming to the door and begging to be let in. It’s not going to happen.”
Myra turned and stomped off in the mud. I took a couple of steps forward as if I was going to follow. I stopped and listened to the rain pelt the trees and ground around me; to the thunder above me; to the wind whipping around me; to the sudden scream of terror that echoed from the path not too far away from me.
“Fred!” she yelled for me. “Please, help me. Fred!”
My name was the last word from her lips.
I took a few cautious steps along the path. When I saw the large grizzly bear snapping Myra’s body from side to side like it was a rag doll I stopped. Then I ran along the path I had wanted to take until I came to an opening. In the distance I could see the house. When I got to it, Rhett was sitting on the porch, smoking his pipe.
“Fred, where’s Myra?” he asked.
I turned and looked back to where I had come. I ran a few steps in that direction and stopped.
Rhett’s eyes grew large with the sudden realization that something was terribly wrong. He was off the porch in no time, following me.
There wasn’t much left of Myra when we found her and the bear was gone.
Now, I sit on the porch, looking toward those same trees where I had ventured so many times when I was younger. I miss Myra, even with her stubborn ways. Rhett does too. Occasionally, he pats me on the head with a warm hand.
“You’re a good dog, Fred,” he says. “A good dog.”
This story was written for a prompt in a writing group dedicated to flash fiction. The way it worked was a prompt was posted on Mondays. You could not open the prompt message until you have one hour to write. That’s all you got. One hour. You also were not allowed to go over 1000 words, not including the title of the story. You spent your hour writing and editing if you had time, then you submitted the story to the group. Next you had to read the stories of the other participants and vote for your top three stories. The winner would choose the prompt for the next week. I loved doing them and I got a lot of cool ideas from writing in this group.
The prompt for this story was simple: you are either an animal or its owner and there is danger ahead. That’s it. I chose the animal.
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