Lost, lost, but, where is home?
Word Count 1049
He huddled into the old cardboard box trying to keep warm. The chill was so pronounced even being out of the wind was not enough. He shivered, vibrating the cardboard that surrounded him. If he could only find Kim, he would be okay. Where she had gone, he did not know. He only knew his belly was empty, his body was terribly cold and snow was beginning to fall lazily down across the city.
He came out of the box, it wasn't doing him any good anyway. Eddie stood for a moment in the alley, watching the people pass at the alley's end. He could smell food and it made his stomach hurt. Slowly, staying close to the brick wall, he came to the end of the alley. Standing there, no one noticed him, no kind voice asked him how he got out on the street at nine o'clock at night, all alone and in this terrible weather.
He slunk out onto Main Street, hugging the building where there was enough shadow so that he would be concealed from ready sight. He still had pain in his hip from the beer bottle that had been pitched at him yesterday.
He sat down on the frigid sidewalk, drawing himself up into as small a parcel as he could. Not being noticed was easy in the city, just keep your head down, make no noise and don't interrupt anyone on their way and you could sit all day outside any building and no one would bother to even look at you.
Eddie stood up and loped down toward the next corner. Crossing the street was a mystery to him. He couldn't figure out the rhythm of when to go and when to stop. It seemed as though the cars were always whirring past, there was always a large obstacle to dodge. He watched the people as they stood at the corner. There were not so many as during the day, but they still waited and walked, waited and walked.
He slipped silently behind a group and crossed the street with them. No one looked at him, no one cared at all.
He limped a bit, the cold and the injured hip adding to his misery. He came to the place where he smelled food. It was a brightly lit diner. Inside people were drinking and eating. He stood close to the window and placed his nose against the glass. A woman who's seat was near the glass was startled and made a loud noise. A waiter ran through the door and told him to "get away!" The waiter waved his arms and then his apron and Eddie trotted off, still hungry, still smelling the lingering scent of food.
Eddie could not speak. Words were useless to him, though he had a great way of communicating with his eyes. No one looked into his eyes, though, so he moved on from day to day, wondering if he would ever find Kim.
Music flowed from one building. It was cheery, filled with bells and chimes. Eddie stepped forward, standing in front of the window in which objects were placed that moved. He knew the one thing was called "train", Kim's brother Joey had one of those. A toy soldier frightened him with its play gun that emitted sparks and made a rat-a-tat sound. He sprang back, bumping into a man who smacked at him.
"Get outta here!"
Eddie looked at the man and slunk back, to sit before the toy store, his head hung low.
"Kim," he thought, "where are you?"
Eddie recalled the park, the way he and Kim had played. He thought about the warm sunshine and the fun they had. Slowly, he fell off to sleep.
"Four days, Mom, if I can't find him he'll die out there. He doesn't know how to live on the streets."
"I know, honey. The authorities have done all they can. We have to look on our own now."
"But we've been everywhere. Maybe he's . . ."
"I told you, don't think like that. We'll find him, come on, let's go out again."
"It's Christmas Eve, Mom, the family will be here soon."
Emma, Kim's mom, checked her watch.
"You're right, but they'll wait."
She herded Kim into the car. Even though she felt they would come home empty handed, she still had to try even if only for Kim's sake.
Emma started the engine and backed the SUV out of their driveway. They drove down Clark, turned at Willow and headed onto the short strip of highway that led to the shopping district. Kim watched the cars whiz past, her heart in her throat. Eddie didn't know how to cross a busy highway, he would just plunge ahead and maybe . . . but her mom had told her not to think that way, so she put the thought out of her mind.
The shopping district was still crowded with people picking up those last minute items. Holiday music blared from speakers attached to lamp posts - "you better watch out, you'd better not cry . . ." Kim heard it as if it were some foreign language demanding participation in a ritual she would rather forgo. She trudged along behind her mom after they parked the car, looking this way and that, calling his name.
It seemed to be getting colder. The snow was falling more heavily and when Eddie woke from his doze he was covered in the white stuff. He shook his body trying to rid himself of the wet, clinging snow but most of it sunk into his coat soaking him. He began to shiver, his legs wobbly beneath him. He had been wakened from a dream. He thought he had heard his name being called. But, when he stood, shaking off snow and listening, there was nothing. He saw a nearby alley and headed inside. At least there was less wind in here and maybe a dumpster to dive for left over food.
There! He heard it again, "Eddie . . . Eddie."
He waited, but heard nothing more so he jumped into the dumpster only to discover it was empty. Now, he couldn't get out. Eddie panicked and started raising his voice. Someone would hear him and surely help him.
Both of them stopped and listened as they heard the faint plea for help. Kim ran toward the voice, she knew in her heart it was Eddie. She passed the alley way twice. She could hear him calling near there, but not seeing him, she thought he was nearby, but not there. Emma was the one that hurried down the alley, looked into the dumpster and shouted.
"Kim! I found him, here he is!"
Kim hopped up the side of the dumpster, hanging on by her hands she looked inside to see Eddie's loving eyes. She climbed over the top and was rewarded for her presence with kisses and pleasant noises like Eddie made when he got something he wanted.
She pushed him up and out of the dumpster into her mom's care. Happily he followed them to the SUV.
The house, Eddie's house, was warm and filled with people. A Christmas tree blinked bright colored lights in front of the window and the sound of merriment filled the air.
Kim and Joey had cleaned him up, placed a bright red bow around his neck and sat with him between them on the couch.
"I'm so happy you found your dog," Uncle Matt said.
"Me too, Uncle Matt, me too."
She put her arm around Eddie's neck and cuddled him. He gave her his best doggie smile and licked her face. The cold was only a memory now, but Eddie vowed never to run off from her again. And, in a whole hearted pledge, Kim swore she would never let him off the lead in the park again. They watched as the family opened presents and when it came to Eddie's, Joey and Kim opened them for him.
After the party was over and the guests gone, Eddie wandered upstairs to sleep on the end of Kim's bed. He didn't think about the cold, the snow or being lost. He thought about when he was found and how he had seen Kim's face over the edge of the dumpster. He sighed, and fell off into a peaceful sleep.