J.R. Hershberger is the readers’ choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge.
The winning entry is rewarded with a special feature here today and a place in our collection of winners which will be published as an e-book at year end.
Without further ado, here’s the winning entry:
by J.R. Hershberger
Jerry, my black lab mix, has started to limp.
I noticed it the first time when we were walking the beach. Jerry and Kevin walked ahead of me, as they always did. I lollygagged in the shallows, occasionally bending to investigate a bit of sea glass or an uninhabited shell.
Concerned, I called Jerry, and he ran back to me, all signs of injury gone. I examined him, and found no obvious defect. He bounded in the surf, seeming to frolic with the shadow of the puppy he once was, until Kevin called him back, and I watched as the pair continued down the beach.
The return of the dog’s limp made me smile; it seemed he walked in sympathy with my son’s changing gait, his body shriveling as his illness progressed.
“Kevin, look at Jerry,” I started to say, but the coastal wind carried my voice up and behind me like a child’s squandered balloon. Kevin did not turn; he had not heard me.
Maybe it’s better he doesn’t see it, I thought.
Indeed, if Kevin has noticed the dog’s feigned lameness, he’s not mentioned it to me.
We are walking the beach again. The novelty of Jerry’s limp has worn off, I realize; it is now merely my own private sign, one of thousands marking the road to goodbye.
I watch the wind and water erase the three-legged imprints in the sand, and grieve over the impermanence of everything.