An Itty-Bitty Short Story
by Dustin Adrian Rhodes
“A good companion shortens the longest road.”
In the wee hours of one particular Sunday morning, the time when reasonable folks are snuggled tight in their beds, lost in a realm of fantasy and dreams. I lay in my bed where sleep had escaped me. I stared blankly at a ceiling I knew existed above, but unable to make out its details in the dark. Void of the desire to sleep, I climbed out of bed. I threw on some clothes and slipped outdoors into the darkness of the early morning hour. I was greeted by crisp clean air. I enjoy this particular time of night, or should I say, morning? That magical hour just before dawn explodes into the birth of a new day. I knew not where I was going, I followed my feet as they moved on their own accord toward an unknown destination.
As I walked in the cool and dark, random thoughts wafted aimlessly from one abstract concept to another. There was nothing in particular on my mind. I didn’t ponder long on any one thought for long before it floated away and another would drift into place. I enjoyed the movement as my legs transported me to new and wonderful parts unknown.
I paused when I came upon a trickle of water. A shallow brook babbled lazily. Reflective sparkles like glistening diamonds floated along the flowing surface. I looked upon the place, a quiet retreat, one I was unfamiliar. I had no recollection of having been in this locale before. Had it been five minutes? Or half an hour? On the other hand, had it been hours that I’d been walking? I had no particular place of importance to be, so I relished a pleasurable rest on a cool flat boulder.
Dark shadows had been cast by the trees, which bordered the serene clearing, where I had settled. In the light of the bright full moon, I was alone with a menagerie of unrelated thoughts and nestled within a glorious paradise tucked away from the ravages of civilization. Crickets and katydids fervently complained to the moon for shining much too brightly, and then they’d pause as if they expected the glowing globe to express an apologetic reply. The brook babbled softly in its own incomprehensible language of gurgles, like the gentle coo of a contented baby.
Across the shimmering rocks of the meandering brook, a bandit cautiously approached the water’s edge. Balanced on its haunches, the furry creature gingerly dipped its front paws into the water. The raccoon fastidiously washed its face clean, except for the permanent black mask that extended across its beady eyes. Satisfied, the fluffy ball of fur waddled back into the dark shadows of the surrounding foliage and disappeared from sight.
A rustling startled me. I turned to look in the direction of the distraction. A skunk carelessly frolicked in the tall grass only a few yards away. The creature did not seem concerned by my presence. I was more than aware that I was quite visible in the moon lit clearing. The black and white fur appeared and vanished in the thick vegetation as it played with invisible playmates that only it could see. The creature rolled and tumbled in its own playful game. The white stripes began to approach nearer and nearer to my boulder. Cautiously, I slowly backed away. I kept a keen eye on the animal and wondered if the creature had intruded into my space, or had I been the intruder?
My legs led me away from the peaceful oasis to return back to the familiarity of civilization. I strolled along a sleepy city sidewalk. I absorbed the view of modest homes and small businesses, dark as their occupants slept. Street lamps cast variations of my shadow on the ground to my right, then my left, sometimes it followed behind and other times the shadow led my way.
In silence, an additional shadow joined that of my own. Our shadows merged as we walked together, side by side. Occasionally we’d brush lightly into one another. I initiated a soft and gentle conversation. Not knowing each other well, I kept the topics light and general. Maybe he agreed with me, maybe he didn’t, that I will never know. He volunteered nothing in exchange. Together we walked, with no predetermined destination or goal in mind. The reflection of the moon sparkled from his large dark eyes. From his loose jaw, long tongue that dangled from the side of his snout and his wagging tail, he seemed content with our casual and uncomplicated connection.
We walked for some time when unexpectedly, he gently licked my fingertips with his wet tongue. We paused. We gazed soulfully into each others eyes. For a moment, I expected him to contribute something profound and thought provoking, but he didn’t speak a word. There were no words, which could have adequately expressed our thoughts. I experienced a pang in my heart as I watched him slowly turn and move in the opposite direction. His tail wagged continuously. I continued on my journey for a few moments, and then I paused to look back on my former companion. Had I said something to offend my companion that he had left me? He must have sensed my hesitation, for he too had turned to look back at me. Our eyes locked momentarily, as if something should have been spoken between us. All I could muster was a melancholy smile. He nodded his head as if he agreed. Sadly, we turned away from each other and each of us resumed our respective travels toward our own separate destinations.
Fate had allowed two lonely souls to cross paths and share a few moments of uncomplicated companionship, when each had craved the company of another. A few moments in time, void of expectation or commitment, a few minutes of unexpected companionship under the radiant glow of a full harvest moon, among a clear dark sky of twinkling stars.
With an erect posture, a small hop in my gait and warmth in my heart, I continued on my journey as the hint of the eastern light began to usher in the birth of a glorious new day.
~ The End ~
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Dustin Adrian Rhodes on Smashwords
August 18, 2012
Copyright 2012 © Dustin Adrian Rhodes All Rights Reserved
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Smashwords Edition License Notes
This manuscript is licensed for your personal enjoyment and is being offered as a free read and may not be re-sold. If you would like to share this manuscript, please feel free to share it with all of your friends. Thank you for sharing this author’s work.
This is a literary work of pure fiction. Characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s vivid imagination and are solely intended to be used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons (or animals) living or dead, or actual events or locations is purely coincidental.
Information about Dustin Adrian Rhodes may be found on the author’s official website: