Hello! This is my new space for posting a wide variety of writing, including updates about what I’m doing, flash fiction, short stories, and my rants on all kinds of topics. You can also follow my writing progresses at the Luminous Creatures Press Blog, or engage in occasional contests and activities there.
Today I am posting a little flash story I wrote for the prompt in the final week of our Summer of Super Short Stories Contest over at Luminous Creatures.
Here’s the prompt picture:
And here’s my story:
Ralphie’s back itch had begun when he had been searching behind the taqueria for soggy tortillas. A man had caught him and smacked him on the back with a rolled-up newspaper, just for lurking near the trash can.
A few days later Ralphie was picked up by animal control, and the back itch had only gotten worse. No matter how he squirmed he could not reach it.
His cage at the pound stood last in a long row. None of the humans ever got all the way down to see him because of the litter of puppies next door. Eleven puppies, every one cute, wiggly, and charming to humans. Ralphie always heard them:
“Oh, look! Puppies! Perfect!”
“We’d prefer a puppy.”
“Isn’t it better to get a puppy?”
Ralphie tried to use the cage bars to rub, but he still couldn’t reach that itch. The few humans the puppies could not seduce generally took one look at Ralphie and said:
“He looks like he has pit bull in him.”
“Isn’t it hard to find places to rent with pit bulls?”
“Aren’t pit bulls aggressive?”
The hall door squeaked. Ralphie hunkered down, determined not to get his hopes up again. After all, four puppies remained unadopted.
“What kind of dog are you looking for?” the volunteer asked.
“We’re not sure,” said a woman’s voice.
Ralphie rested his head on his paws and tried to ignore the furious itch between his shoulder blades.
“We have lab-mix puppies—”
Soft footsteps approached Ralphie’s cage. He lifted his sad brown eyes and met the gentle gaze of a slender man with glasses. But his back still itched.
The man read the placard on Ralphie’s cage. “Hey there, Ralphie. I’m Dave.”
Ralphie thumped his tail on the concrete.
“Beth, come look at this guy,” Dave called.
An elfin woman peered around the man. “What a face!”
Ralphie perked his ears. Dave fetched the volunteer.
“Hi, you sweet boy,” Beth said, reaching through the cage. Ralphie approached warily. He had been hurt many times by humans. He ducked under her hand. So close…
She patted his back. He leaned in. She scratched. Ralphie grunted in deep satisfaction, closing his eyes.
“I like him,” Beth said as Dave and the volunteer arrived.
“Why don’t you take him into the yard?” the volunteer suggested, unlocking Ralphie’s cage.
Ralphie wagged tentatively as he followed them outside.
“Do you like the name Ralphie?” asked Dave.
“It suits him,” Beth replied. “He’s so noble.”
Ralphie ran onto the lawn, threw himself on his back, and rolled in unadulterated joy, scratching that insatiable itch.
“Look how adorable he is!” Beth cried. “Can we get him?”
Ralphie leapt to his paws and shook out. The itch was almost gone; only one little niggle remained.
“He’s the one,” Dave said. “He’s our dog.”
Ralphie padded to Dave, who knelt to welcome him. As Dave stroked his back, Ralphie’s itch disappeared as if it had never existed at all.