Short Story: Lights

Lights on. Lights off. Lights on. Lights off. Lights on…why hasn’t he woken up yet? I look at the old ragged man. He’s lying on a tattered blanket in the corner of the room. He didn’t want to sleep on the bed, fearful he would make it dirty, alerting the owners that someone stayed in their house while they were gone. It is a nice bed, but I can’t sit on it. If he won’t, I won’t. It’s cold, the open window invites the wind in. I would shut it, to give him even a little bit of the warmth he deserves, but he is concerned he would leave a stench that could never be removed. I feel sorry for him. He thinks of others but doesn’t give himself a second thought. This man that has nothing puts me first. I walk over to him, looking down at his still form. His hands are rough and covered in a layer of filth. No matter how much I try, his hand can’t be cleaned. His grey beard is matted and tangled, like my hair.

He runs his hands through my hair every morning. To make me as presentable as possible. It never really works. I’m always going to be a scruffy mess. It’s one of the punishments of being homeless. Him and I, are not worthy of being presentable. We can’t afford to look nice; can barely afford food, but he always makes sure I have enough.

I return to the light switch. Light off. Light on. Light off… He usually wakes up when I play with the switches. Fearful I will attract attention from the neighbours. He doesn’t move. I wander over to the window, looking out into the night. Other houses have their lights on, probably enjoying some family time or getting ready for bed.

One of the doors open and a woman walks out. She looks around her garden before looking at our house. Pulling her dressing gown tighter around her and makes her way across the road. I rush to him, nudging my nose against his cheek. I pull at his arm, but he doesn’t budge. I run to the light switch.

Footsteps come towards our room. Lights on. Lights off. Lights on. Lights off. Lights on… the door handle twists and the door slowly opens. The woman peeks her head through the gap. Lights off.

I go to the man’s side, trying to hide him from her view. She comes into the dark room. Lights on. She stares at me and I watch her.

‘Hello there,’ she crouches down smiling at me, ‘what are you doing in here?’ I freeze.

‘It’s okay.’ She extends her hand out towards me. I look back at the man and she glances behind me and frowns.

‘I’m not going hurt you.’ She moves towards me slowly, hand still outstretched. What do I do? The man still doesn’t move. She doesn’t seem like a threat. Before I can decide what to do her hand touches my head.

‘It’s okay.’ Her thumb runs across my head and my tail unwillingly thumps against the floor. She’s so warm and gentle. Her hands are smooth and soft.

‘That’s it. You’re such a good boy.’

-Ashleigh Tucker

Published by ashleight607

I'm a 23 year old studying writer with Cystic fibrosis. I have two cats and a dog and live in a small town in the Highlands.

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