He took a sip of his beer, as he let his eyes drift out the window and down over the fancy diner below. A dog barked excitedly at its entrance, dashing about in the snow, barely restrained by the leash. His gaze lingered on the creature, watching from silence of his apartment, non-judging. A boy ran with the dog, the two playfully splashing the soft fallen snow at one another. He took another sip of his beer, eyes half lidded, back leaning against the chair as he continued to watch the scenes unfold beyond the slowly fogging glass panel.
He remembered when he was that age. So many years ago. He opened another beer can, continuing to watch them play beneath him, accidentally spilling some of the drink down his greying beard. He closed his eyes briefly, remembering his once wife and son. His son had been that age when the incident happened. It had been the night of Christmas Eve. He’d been at work. His family had planned to meet him at the office to begin their holiday road trip immediately at the end of his work day.
He’d remembered getting out of the office, and waiting in the parking lot, wondering why his ever-punctual wife was late. He had smiled, wondering if their children, their son and unborn daughter at the time, were somehow the cause of her uncharacteristic behavior. Then, he received the call. The call that had him running, despite his lack of a vehicle. The call that made him desperate. The call that left his life in shambles.
He’d left his job since then. He’d never forget the memory of clutching his bloody wife and son in his arms in the hospital. Too late to even say goodbye. Christmas was never the same. He took another swig from his beer can, uncaring for the droplets that ran down his beard. The holiday lights that shone below with the diner’s advertisements only left his heart in shambles.
He wiped away the tears that had started to trail his face, and looked down at the scene again. The boy had fallen in the middle of the street. Sudden panic filled him, and he began running again. Yanking open the door to his apartment, without pausing to lock it, he dashed to the stairwell, and then without waiting for the elevator, dashed down the flight of stairs. He had to make it in time. He ran through the lobby, where the receptionist stared at him like a mad man. The boy, he had to be okay.
He threw himself out of his apartment, catching sight of the dog pulling at the boy’s hood with its jaw, and the boy kneeling on the ground with his knee sliced open, crying. Shards of glass covered the road, in what appeared to be a broken alcohol bottle. From the distance, he saw a vehicle approaching. A large truck. There’s no way the driver would be able to see the child with the slope of the road, and the child’s lowered posture.
Without thinking, he ran across the street, picking up the child, and pulling along the dog by the leash, just in time for the truck to barely clip the back of his leather jacket. He put the child down on the pavement, inspecting whether the child was okay. He let out a breath, relieved, despite still being winded from the sudden physical exertion. Still holding the child’s shoulders with his hands, he visually searched the area for a parent. But, there was no one in sight.
His anger bristled then; the parents must’ve went into the diner, leaving their not yet legally-of-age child outside. It didn’t matter where the parents were now. He was taking this child to the hospital. He wrapped his arm around the child, intending to lift him, when the dog suddenly rounded the space between the child and himself, and began licking the child’s injured knee. The child’s whimpers immediately lessened. He watched curious. After about a minute, the dog stepped back, and he nearly gaped at what he saw. The child’s injury had fully sealed.
“Thank you, sir.” The child said, addressing him, before reaching out to pet the dog. He looked at the boy, only realizing then, how much the child resembled his lost son. He coughed, turning his attention to the dog.
“What’s his name?” He asked.
“Charming,” The child answered with a wide smile. Suddenly, he felt warm, despite the cold wind blowing about them. Perhaps this year would be different. Perhaps he could enjoy Christmas, again, after all.
This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Promptly Written” Publication.
Write a story that includes the words ‘snow’, ‘charming’, and ‘diner’ — you may use any tenses or forms of those words.