Contest (166) - Theme: "Progress" courtesy of @Storysmith Congratulations @DarkTesseract for "Abbie" Competition was very tough and you pulled off the win. @Wreybies has awarded your bronze medal. There were three top scorers in this contest. Tying for second place were @BeckyJean with "Rescinded Man" and @lustrousonion with "The Last Rabbit". Thanks again to all the forum members who entered and who voted. ________________________________________ Abbie - 685 words Kevin sighed, tired. Only two hours into his shift, he was mentally lying on the couch in front of the TV, flicking through the rubbish he spent so much time with. He signed a few forms and washed his hands, the water momentarily drowning out the yapping and screeching, then pressed a button so the receptionist would let the next customer in. A minute later, a young man entered. He had brown hair, muscular arms and a deadened look in his eyes. Kevin leaned over and shook his hand. “You must be Jaime?” he asked, smiling. Jaime grunted, fiddling with the end of his top. “And I hear you’re interested in a dog?” Jaime scowled. “My mum wants me to get one.” “Have you ever had a pet before?” Jaime looked up. There were bags under his eyes. “Yeah, a collie. He was run over.. must be five years ago now.” “I’m sure that must have hurt.” There was a string protruding from the top that Jaime wrapped round his finger. “We have many breeds here. I’m sure you’re aware that dogs are very high maintenance-” Jaime’s arms clenched tightly on his chair. “I can look after one!” Kevin smiled kindly at him. “I’m sure you’ll make an excellent and caring owner.” He turned towards the cages. “In fact, I think I have just the one..” Reaching up, he gently took down a cage. Inside was a border terrier, curled in a sleeping position. Kevin slowly placed it on the ground and opened the cage. Tentatively, it stood up and walked out. One side of its face was badly scratched and burned and it was missing a hind leg. Jaime laughed scornfully. “Look at it! It’s useless!” Kevin shook his head. “Abbie’s a very special dog. Apparently an unwanted puppy, she was found hiding in a bush in an estate two years ago and brought to us. We nursed her to full health and, though shy, she’s a fine dog and an exceptional companion.” He handed Jaime a small plush ball. “She loves to play, give her a try.” Jaime threw the ball at Kevin, tears in his eyes. “Fuck you and your shitty dog!” he said angrily, voice and body trembling. The ball rebounded off Kevin’s face and bounced awkwardly into a corner. Abbie half ran, half hopped over to it, picked it up and brought it over to Jaime as fast as she could, leaving it by his chair and looking patiently at him. “The man that found Abbie was adamant that we didn’t put her down,” said Kevin quietly. “We assured him that we do all we can to ensure that step isn’t reached, but he still called every day and visited once a week.” Jaime’s face was contorted with anger, tears running down his scowl. “Abbie was loved, and in return she is now an incredibly loving creature.” Kevin threw the ball up again. Abbie followed it with her eyes and went for it as soon as it hit the ground, returning it to Jaime’s side again. “What are you looking at?” he shouted at her. Abbie waited patiently at his side. He picked up the ball and flung it onto Kevin’s desk. Abbie scratched at the leg, but this unbalanced her and she toppled. She got up and continued to scratch, falling every few seconds. Eventually, she started to push the desk with her head, and it inched slowly outwards. The computer began to lean into the wall as the wires strained. Kevin gripped the desk and placed the ball back on the floor. “Abbie’s been here longer than any animal before,” said Kevin, as she placed the ball next to Jaime and rubbed his foot with her snout. “But she’s also the one we’re most fond of. She’d make an excellent pet - for anyone.” He reached down and picked her up. “What do you think?” he asked, placing her on Jaime’s lap. Jaime looked at Kevin through his tears. Saying nothing, he slowly turned his wheelchair and left a smiling Kevin behind, Abbie curled snugly on his legs.