Willow’s eyes were transfixed on the door. Her front paws stretched out ahead of her, her chin resting between them.
Where’s Master? she whined. She licked her lips and shook her head, her brown ears flapping.
Master had left her in the Sharp Place. She called it the Sharp Place because she was stuck in the back of the neck with a really sharp spike her first time here. Master stroked her hair and cuddled her afterwards, so it wasn’t all bad.
Her tail wagged when she thought of Master. No amount of visits to the Sharp Place could change that.
She heard footsteps. Was it Master returning? She sniffed the air, but there were too many scents. The door opened.
The Sharp Man walked in. He was tall and wore all blue clothes. She’d met him a few times before and didn’t like him. He was the one that stuck her with the spike. But when he spoke he had a nice voice, and under all the sharp smells she could make out something that smelled like kindness.
Then Willow noticed he was carrying something.
ANOTHER DOG!? she barked, YES! ANOTHER DOG!
“Don’t worry Willow,” said the Sharp Man, “You’re going soon.”
“Shush pup! That bark of yours just goes through my head!” said the other dog.
Willow skittered back and stopped barking. That dog barked like a human! She looked at the Sharp Man. Didn’t he hear it?! He was putting the grey dog onto a big black square and looking at a screen.
“14 kilos! You need to lose weight Jacob!”
HUMAN BARKING! HOW? HOW? HUMAN BARKING! she questioned.
“Seriously, stop the barking. I’m getting on in years. What did the vet say your name was?” asked the dog. Now the Sharp Man was using a magnifying glass to look at the old dog’s paw.
WILLOW! HUMAN BARKING! HOW?! she responded, then she whined instead. Soooorrry… Stoooop Barrrrrkiiinng.
She watched as the vet pulled something out of the dog’s paw. Jacob winced. Then the Sharp Man lifted Jacob and wrapped something around his paw. He tightened it and then put him in the cage beside Willow.
“Now Jacob, you leave that bandage alone! That splinter caused a nasty infection. You’ll make it worse by licking it!”
He left the room, leaving Jacob and Willow alone.
“So, why aren’t you talking?”
Jacob winced. “Wow you have a sharp bark! Just try barking but don’t open your mouth.”
“There you go!”
Willow cocked her head to the side, surprising herself.
“Could I always do this?!”
“You’re joking right?”
“Oh Godmothers… You’re new.”
Willow could hear Jacob scratch at the wall separating their cages. Strange sparkling white dust fell from the top of it and then the wall crumbled away.
HOW?! WHAT?! NO!? I’M SCARED! she barked.
STOP BARKING! Jacob barked. “Great, now you have me at it. Calm down, Willow. I can explain.”
“Explain what?” asked Willow. She stepped forward and gingerly sniffed Jacob’s behind.
Jacob lay down and started chewing at his bandage.
“I’m a… Fairy?”
“Yup. Guardian Angel, Fairy Godmother, Spirit Guide. Whatever they wanted, we were there for them. Humans I mean. We’ve always been there and always will. When I started we were gods! But then they stopped believing in us. But we still cared, so came the first Great Change.”
Jacob was still chewing the bandage, which was beginning to fray.
“We became angels. Visited, told them good news, gave advice, that sort of thing. But after a few centuries they stopped believing in those too, so came some more Great Changes. At one point I took the form of a little old lady in a blue dress and a pink bow… Yes!”
The bandage came off, and Jacob began to lick his paw.
“I… I think the Sharp Man said not to do that.”
“What does he know. I’m thirty-five thousand and eighty in dog years. He’s only forty.”
Willow cocked her head to the side. “Will I live that long?”
“Yes and no. We reincarnate, each time taking care of a new human.”
Willow sat still for a moment, thinking.
Jacob was now practically chewing his paw.
“You tell me.”
Willow thought long and hard. Her heart swelled and her tail twitched as she thought of Master. But then she had another thought. Sometimes Master didn’t smell right. He cried. Other times he lay on the couch for the whole day, not walking her. Sometimes he shouted at her and then held her and cried again. She whined involuntarily.
“Master. He needs me to help him. I play, lick, and sometimes I just jump up on his lap and sleep there, just so he’s not alone.”
Jacob’s tail wagged.
“It sounds like you’re doing a great job already. That’s what we do… Love them, guide them, protect them… We look after them.”
Just then, the Sharp Man came back into the room.
“Come on Willow,” he said, “Your heading home- Oh no Jacob!!!”
The Sharp Man could see Jacob chewing his infected paw.
“You’ll have to get more injections now buddy!”
The Sharp Man lifted Willow out of her cage.
“Bye Jacob! Thanks for everything!” called Willow.
Jacob was lying still, his ears back and his eyes wide.
The Sharp Man put her lead on and brought her to a room full of chairs and humans. She began sniffing the air, trying to find the familiar scent of Master. There it was! Excited, Willow pulled on her lead, eager to see him.
“Whoah! It’s okay Willow! It’s-”
There he was! Master stooped down and spread his arms out, ready to hold her and love her.
Willow sprinted to him and kissed him all over his face. Her tail wagged so hard she thought it would come off.
“Hello, my gorgeous girl! Don’t worry I’ll bring you home and look after you!”
No, thought Willow, I look after you.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!
If you’d like to read some more flash fiction then click here: Flash Fiction!