The Daily Post prompt today is ‘sacrifice’.
The boy shuffled about on the piece of cardboard. Better than sitting on the ground but he was still frozen. The dog raised her head from her paws and looked at him. He reached out and scratched her ear.
“Yeah, I know. I’m hungry too.”
Lola let her head back down wearily. She was patient, he thought. She’d wait all day, and then some. The thought wrung his heart, squeezing out tears. He wiped a hand over his face, pulled himself together. He shivered and pulled his jacket tighter.
He had nothing. Not the price of a packet of fags or a bottle of wine. If he was lucky, he’d get a bed in the hostel. Not much better than sleeping rough. He glared at the sky and hunched back into the doorway. But he’d be out of the rain at least, and the other dossers would leave him alone since he had nothing to pinch. But they wouldn’t let him bring Lola. He’d done it before, left her in the park while he spent a night in a bed. Just once. She’d been frantic. Running round town all night looking for him. He couldn’t do it again. Wasn’t fair.
He stifled a cough. Lola raised an eyebrow. He looked into her eyes and he made the decision he’d been putting off for weeks. There were hardly any leaves left on the trees now, the nights were cold as fuck, and he was sick. It wasn’t fair. Lola was his only friend, but he couldn’t do it any more. He got stiffly to his feet and slung his backpack over his shoulder.
He tied her lead to a post outside the supermarket. There were always loads of people around and it was a poor area; there were lots of people liked dogs. Lola had a nice face. He turned away, couldn’t bear it, knowing how she would be standing with her head on one side, her ears raised, asking herself, what the fuck’s he doing now? He didn’t want to watch, to see who unhooked her lead and took her home. But he had to. He wouldn’t let some shitbrains take her for dog bait.
He turned the corner and slumped against the wall. It felt weird not having Lola’s warmth against his leg. He wiped the tears away with the back of his hand and watched. He watched until one of the checkout girls on a break noticed Lola. She said something to a grey-haired fella come out with his shopping, untying his own dog. The old fella looked at Lola and scratched her ears. The girl stubbed out her fag and they both waved their arms a bit, looking around. The boy held his breath. The old fella unhooked Lola’s lead.
The boy closed his eyes tight to stop himself floating away in the empty space his world had become.