Alessandra and the dog tromped around the beautiful mountain trail. It was brightly lit with the heavy blanket of snow, yet, neither of them felt the cold. Quietly, peacefully, they descended up the large mountain, hearing nothing of their constant footsteps. It was a day with no wind, and the world seemed to pause in eagerness for the essence of noise. The dog, Ankou, would sigh in content every once in awhile, grinning at his owner as they walked along side by side. He decided he would behave today, and he wouldn’t go and chase after all the squirrels. She was awfully angry the last time he did it, and her face of panic had scared him enough to stop.
He loved her, very very much.
He would never harm her.
Alessandra smiled sadly at her tiny companion, grinning up at her.
“Enjoying this, aren’t you?”
The dog barked in delight.
“Well, you dragged me here, so have fun, ok?
Alessandra remembered the moment when she saw the little puppy staring up at her at the shelter, quivering in fear. Ankou had hated her then, filled with fear of humans, filled with fear of life. When she first walked over, he crammed himself into the tiniest corner of the box.
She adopted him anyway.
The process was slow and painful. By the end of the first week, she wanted to cry, her arms stinging from the constant bite and scratch marks. But after months and months of pouring out love to the little ball of fur, he came to love her back. Two red strings intertwined.
The sky was a strange shade of white, almost as though it was reflecting the whiteness of the snow plastered on the ground.
They didn’t feel tired as they kept on going up, slowly and smoothly. The dead trees that were laced in the beginning of the trail had now disappeared, leaving only a field of snow around them, and even the trail was gone. It was only them, walking on the clean bright snow. When Alessandra looked back she only saw a smear of fog.
There were no footprints.
Ankou rested on the blankets of snow, panting slightly.
“I know, I know. We’re almost there.”
He wasn’t tired, though, it was his leg. It hurt so much. The pain pulsed and brought his mind out of the gentle beauty of the mountain. But he would endure it. For her.
He saw a flash of a road.
Alessandra sighed gently, and helped him up.
They finally reached the top of the mountain after quite a while. Ankou yelped in pain every once in awhile, his leg aching and useless.
The top of the mountain blended into the sky, the same pure white color.
“We’re here, I think” Alessandra said, looking at the dog.
His vision slowly blinked open and he saw the yellow lines in the black pavement. When he blinked again, he saw Alessandra leaning over him.
“Ankou? Ankou? Don’t leave me.”
He couldn’t get up anymore. The cold snow was so cold, so wet, and he couldn’t. His leg wouldn’t let him. He let out a feeble bark to Alessandra.
She started crying, “No you brought me here, don’t leave me. You did this!”
Ankou blinked again, seeing the fall trees on the other side of the road.
The dog’s tears disappeared into his fur, turning it dark.
Alessandra buried her face in his neck, sobbing, “It’s okay. It’s okay. I forgive you.”
I’m sorry. I love you. I’m sorry.
Ankou opened his eyes. There he was again, lying in the wet pothole puddle. The car was steaming beside him, the driver running out to where they lay. There in front of the car lay Alessandra, a sad smile gracing her face. There was a single, red string of blood flooding on the pavement. A squirrel glanced back over his shoulder at the disaster, and scurried into the nearest tree. The dog’s leg burst with pain, twisted in a strange awkward angle. Ankou inched slowly closer to his owner, her body’s heat slowly fading out into the crisp fall air. He buried his face into her body, and let out long painful howls. He lay there as the wailing sirens came, wishing to be back into the cold winter wonderland.
He lay there, over her body, for a long long time.