A Special Companion

by Russell Kee (P5 2021)
             “Chirp! Chirp!” the sunbirds sang mellifluously in the crisp breezy morning. The June holidays were warmly welcomed by the cheery sound of nature as dew glistened on freshly cut grass. Jack was in his backyard, playing fetch with his beagle, Odie. Grinning adoringly at Odie, who was sniffing around the cushion-soft grass, Jack began to reminisce fondly of the fateful day a year ago when he befriended Odie, his special companion.
              “Brrringg!!!” the shrill sound of the dismissal bell resounded throughout the entire school. Jack sprang out of his seat like an energetic frog and made a beeline for the school gate, along with his schoolmates. He could not wait to get home so that he could play with his new computer game.
              Jack was so eager to get home that he opted for a shortcut — a quiet and ominous alley that his parents had repeatedly warned him to avoid at all costs. He dismissed their warning as he thought that his computer game was of paramount importance. Just as Jack cut through the dark back alley of the old shophouses, he heard a rustling noise coming from a nearby trash bin. Squinting to get a better look at the source of the noise, Jack discovered that it was a frail and emaciated beagle, scavenging through the trash for food scraps.
              Jack loathed dogs as he had been bitten by one as a toddler. Feeling wary that the beagle might harm him, Jack flung a pebble at the dog to shoo him away. The poor beagle pulled back its ears, let out a whimper and scampered away in terror.
              Suddenly, Jack heard a malicious growl coming from behind him. A feeling of dread washed over him.
              “Grrr! Growrrr…” the low-pitch growl continued aggressively. Jack swivelled around and came face to face with a ferocious feral mongrel, baring its razor-sharp teeth at him! Unlike the feeble beagle Jack had chased away earlier, this dog looked ready to pounce on Jack! Fear gripped Jack’s throat like a tight fist as his blood ran ice-cold and his palms turned clammy. He opened his mouth to scream but found himself completely incapable of making a sound!
              The mongrel let out an ominous snarl which jolted Jack out of his momentous stupor, causing him to sprint like Usain Bolt in the opposite direction of the mongrel. Jack was fast, however, the was much faster! Like a predatory shark closing in on its prey, the mongrel cornered Jack within seconds. Jack fell to the ground, his knees hitting the hard stone floor with a sickening thud.
              “Don’t come any loser! Please!” pleaded Jack as he trembled like a leaf in a typhoon. He tried to defend himself with a measly twig, which the mongrel snapped into two easily. It padded closer to Jack, growling menacingly.
              At that precarious moment, a familiar beagle from before pounced fearlessly at the mongrel. It was the same beagle that Jack had driven away earlier. The mongrel snarled defensively, bucking madly to shake the beagle off. The mongrel sunk its teeth into the beagle’s leg, causing puncture wounds. Amazingly, the determined beagle defeated the mongrel despite its opponent’s physical advantage.
              By the time the brawl was over, Jack had made his swift getaway from that frightful alley. While hurrying home, Jack heard soft padding steps behind him. He looked back and saw the beagle that had saved him. Despite being grateful, Jack ignored the beagle and hastened his footsteps.
              When Jack reached home, the wounded dog continued to trail behind him. That was when Jack noticed that it was limping and felt sorry for the beagle. He took pity on the dog and bandaged its wounds. Jack even gave the dog a piece of bacon before shutting his door and expecting the dog to leave.
              When Jack was leaving home for school the next day, he was utterly astounded to see that the beagle was still outside his doorstep. Smiling, Jack fed the beagle some snacks before dashing off to school. Over the next few days, Jack would feed the dog before going to school as it continued to hang around outside Jack’s house. Eventually, the beagle started to grow on Jack and he finally asked his parents for permission to bring the beagle into the house and keep it as a pet.
             “Absolutely not! Why would I want more mess and noise in the house?” Jack’s mother hollered as she glanced at her son with her arms akimbo.
             “Please, mom! I’ve never wanted a pet so badly! Furthermore, this dog saved me at the back alley!” It was then when Jack decided to tell his mother the truth of how he had taken the short-cut and was almost attacked by the mongrel.
             “Okay, I suppose we can let it into the house… but you must promise to be responsible for taking care of it.” Jack’s mother emphasized and made him promise never to take shortcuts again.
             “Yay!” Jack whooped with joy as the beagle wagged its tail and bounded around Jack. That was the fateful day Jack welcomed Odie into his family. From that day onwards, Odie was always the first to cheer Jack up whenever he was feeling down. He was always at the doorstep to welcome Jack home. Odie was always there to play with Jack when his friends were busy. Over time, Odie gained a muscular build and his coat became luscious and glistened.
             “Woof!” Odie yelped excitedly, snapping Jack out of his reverie and bringing him back to the present day. Jack picked Odie up as his eyes squinted into thin lines, grinning from ear to ear.
             “You will always be my special friend, Odie!” gushed Jack as he gave Odie a big cuddle. Reciprocating Jack’s embrace, Odie rubbed his face on Jack, flashing his signature smile. Jack was fortunate enough to have a pet like Odie. What a special companion indeed!
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