Misty Evening Memories

A reflective short story by Joshua Smith.

Joshua Thompson
17th June 2022
Image credit: Public Domain Pictures

The sun goes down and I sit, pensively in thought. The misty clearing I’m in provides tranquillity, space. It allows me to think, to weep for lost memories of times gone by. Times I took for granted. Us playing till sundown, only returning when our shadows became but part of the night sky. Us comforting each other on dark stormy nights. Us wordlessly cuddling up together, keeping each other warm. These memories ooze through my body, golden and warm like the sun setting before me. But with such happiness comes despair and regret, blocking my reminiscing, making me forget. What colour were your eyes? Unable to answer, tears are shed. It’s been so long. I don’t know how I’ve survived without you by my side.

They said it would get easier, but it didn’t. I still reach out for you when my nightmares keep me awake. When monsters roam my room, out of sight but not out of mind. I still long for your presence. The boundless energy that emanated from you and was in turn absorbed by me. No coffee or cold shower can replace it. That void will never close. Trust me, I’ve tried. Tried to forget. Some ways were more successful than others. I went days without remembering my own name. At the time, that felt like success. It felt like true freedom. No name, no labels, no memories. But it always came flooding back. I’d wake alone, confused, disorientated. I’d hold out a hand, waiting for you to tell me everything was all right. And then it would hit me.

It's on days like these that I truly appreciate what you were to me. The label best friend doesn’t do you justice. You supported me whenever, whatever. You didn’t judge, you just helped me back to my feet. On days when I couldn’t leave bed, you didn’t either. You were always there. You never knew you were too good for me. I didn’t deserve you. I could never repay what you did for me. You saved me. Not only my life but my very essence. Before you, I was in my own world. I thought I was surviving, living even, but I had no happiness. My head was cloudy for days on end. I avoided the present by looking back at the past and forward to the future. But no future I foresaw could equal what I had with you.

You were very different when we first met. You were much smaller, matted and scared, jumping at every little noise. But I saw the love that came from your eyes. You were hesitant, as was I. We co-survived at first. You scratched my back and I scratched yours. But it became so much more than that. Over the years, we both changed. You strode around with confidence, no longer unaware or unaccepting of where you were. And me? You made today matter.

We had our struggles, as anyone does. I had dark days still. I would brush you off without a word and leave you alone. And yet you still greeted me with the same child-like innocence and purity. Sometimes you were too innocent. You put up with things no one ever should. You didn’t only put up with it, you understood it. You knew me. You knew that I’d be back, that I’d regret it, and were there for me when I was done. You would never intend to hurt me. You disappeared from time to time. You came very close to getting hurt and caused me stress. But you never intended to. It only happened because of our bond. Because of my fear of losing you.

I still remember the day I lost you. I woke, ready to face a new morning, a new challenge, with you by my side. But you weren’t there. I called your name, but you wouldn’t come. I knew something was wrong right then. You never ignored me. You never even needed to be called. We were inseparable, yet that day we were separate. I remember walking downstairs. They creaked in their own peculiar way, the way which always spooked you. I remember making my way down the corridor which you bounded down every time I came home from work. I remember entering the living room, where you’d had your first night’s sleep. And where you unknowingly had your last. For there I found you and had to face the cold light of truth. To confront the possibility of a future without you.

I still can see the way you looked at me. The gleam in your eyes told me everything I needed to know. You were still the same childishly-innocent, energetic being I met eyes with on the first day. At least on the inside. But the body wasn’t willing. You looked at me knowingly, accepting your time had come. I looked at you in return. My chest felt heavy, and my throat burnt. I heaved myself to my feet and dragged my reluctant body to the door. We sat in silence as I drove to the final destination.

We both knew what awaited us. There was no good news here. This was not a place of positivity. We waited with bated breath, not fooling ourselves into thinking everything would be ok. We knew that this adventure would be our last together. But it was still hard to accept. We didn’t need to say our last goodbyes. Everything that needed to be said had already been said. I kissed you on your forehead and stayed with you till you closed your eyes and slept. That’s how I like to think of it, sleep.

I like to think of you on misty evenings as something that is still besides me, even if you are not. You gave me meaning. You gave me purpose. And as you sleep and I breath, we are apart, but not really. You never really left. You still run around, waking me on my bad days and waiting for me to come home.

I stand up and walk back to the house as the last flickers of light fall behind the horizon and darkness engulfs me. The light comes on as I enter. I look for you, knowing you are not there but still hoping against hope. I know the next morning will be tough, they all are without you, but I force myself to get through them.

Before I sleep, I say what I’ve said every night since you left. I love you my four-legged friend. And I will love you forevermore.

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