author, Short Story, writing

The End of an Era: A Short Story

Nature slowly changed from orange hues to pure white. Winter was closing in faster than she thought it would. It felt bittersweet. She’d always enjoyed winter, always loved the cold and the snow. But this year it felt wrong, and she was filled with despair.

Margot wrapped her arms around herself as she trudged through the snowy footpath and headed back to her small apartment. She used to love her apartment, but now it was filled with memories she wanted to forget. Her beanie was pulled tightly around her head, a desperate way to block out noise and possible nosy neighbours.

She quickly darted up the narrow stairwell and unlocked her apartment door, flying inside before her closest neighbour could emerge. She’d recently become a shut-in, and the neighbours were always stalking around. She didn’t have the energy to deal with them today.

Warmth greeted her, and she shed the winter clothes, shrugging out of her jacket and leaving it sprawled on the ground. She slowly entered the quiet apartment, tears welling in her eyes as they fell on the empty pet bed. She knelt down, cradling the collar in her hands for a moment as the tears spilled out. “Oh, Cocoa,” she murmured, clinging the collar to her chest. “I miss you so much.”

Margot tried to collect herself. She placed the collar back in the bed and turned away, wiping the tears from her eyes. Her mother had been harassing her about mourning for too long. But it had only been a few weeks. How was she mourning too long?

She sighed, plonking herself at her desk, staring at her laptop screen. It was 8:45 am. She had gone out for a coffee before work and ended up wandering around aimlessly instead. Cocoa was always her rock, her guide and her best friend. She felt hopeless without her constant companion.

When the clock clicked to 9:00, Margot signed in for work. Work was a welcome distraction now. It distracted her from dwelling on her loss, and she focused all her energy on the work. There was nothing else for her to do anyway. No more walks to take, cuddles to get or food to give. It was quiet and lonely.

Her laptop pinged, and she sighed. Another email. She scanned the contents, a deep frown settling on her face.

It’s been one year since your last password change. Please click here to reset your password.

A lone tear escaped her eye. She knew this was coming; she had to change her password for work every year. It was currently set to Cocoa13, and she couldn’t imagine changing it to anything else. Her 13-year-old puppy was gone. How could she possibly change her password?

Margot aggressively closed her laptop, grief and anger melding together. She needed air. She needed to get out of the suffocating apartment. She grabbed her coat on the way and stormed out of the apartment building, trudging along the snowy footpaths with no destination in mind.

She didn’t know how long she’d been walking. Her anger fizzled with each step while the grief grew. Her heart ached as she clenched her hand, missing the familiar feeling of the leash she’d always held.

A small whine caught her attention. Margot spun around, looking for the source of the whine. It came again. Pitiful and weak, emerging from the dumpsters nearby. She drew closer, searching for the culprit. She was sure it was a dog whine, but it took her time to find the small malnourished dachshund buried beneath the trash.

She cradled it in her arms and rushed to the vet. She hadn’t been there since she picked up Cocoa for the last time, but she couldn’t leave this puppy to die alone in the cold. She had to help it any way she could.

The vet saw the small dog immediately and promised to call with any updates. Margot left the little dog in the vet’s hands and slowly returned home, worry consuming her as she thought about the small innocent dog that had clearly been suffering. She called in sick to work and waited to hear the news.

The vet called over the next few days. The dog had no identification and appeared to have been abandoned. Possibly a tossed-out Christmas gift. The vet asked if she wanted to take the dog home with her and possibly adopt it. She was reluctant but eventually agreed. The only other option was the pound; she couldn’t live with herself, putting the small, shivering dog in the lonely, loud pound.

She called it Marshmallow, often shortening it to Mallow. She initially didn’t want to be close to the dog, the pain of losing Cocoa still raw on her sleeve. But the small dog melted the ice around Margot’s heart. It didn’t take her long to adore the small affectionate dog. It avoided Cocoa’s bed and seemed to keep it as a shrine to Cocoa. Respecting the previous owner that had occupied it.

Margot patted the little puppy as it slept on her lap while she worked. She still grieved Cocoa, but Mallow had opened her heart again. She felt less hopeless and lost. When her email pinged again, she knew what it was for.

Please update your password.

She clicked on the link, a smile crossing her face as she typed in her new password.



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