Good friends help each other. That's what turns a gray day into one that sparkles
In a deep gray day full of shadows running around chasing each other, Sparkle was sad.
Usually he was the one doing the chasing. Boys going to school threw the ball he brought them. Chasing after it was pure delight. Girls chased his wiggly tail with their combs. How they laughed at his curly hair bouncing back like tiny springs.
Today he followed them all the way to school. Sparkle would have gone inside if they’d let him. The kids waved goodbye and there Sparkle was, on the outside looking in. His tail drooped. Everyone had a place to go but him. Gray clouds made lightning spear the heavens. It flicked its tongue. It hissed like an angry cat. Sparkle ran.
He wiggled under the school fence into a hole in the dirt where the rain couldn’t find him. He could smell where a skunk had slept here not long before. Sparkle didn’t like skunks. They were worse than hissy fit cats.
Sparkle knew he was just an average mutt dressed in gray hair matching his world today if a little muddy at the moment. He licked his paws as best he could to keep them clean, waiting for the rain to stop. He was not only sad. Sparkle was bored, too.
He heard the traffic go by, tires swishing along the wet roads. No cars stopped to honk. No one rolled down windows to call his name. No one wanted him. Sparkle felt the sparkle in his life drain out of him.
He put his long nose on his paws, closed his eyes and dreamed of home. It was just his old master and him but there was enough love to go around. Sparkle even got to sleep on the big bed. He wiggled his nose in his sleep and licked his lips.
When his tummy growled he thought it was another dog angry at him. It woke him right up. Sparkle stretched and yawned. Something was wrong. The air smelled bad. Not like skunks, something worse.
A different kind of gray cloud hung around the edge of the school. Sparkle growled back at his stomach. He padded over towards the building to investigate. He ended up crawling on the ground as he crept closer. The only good air was low, almost so low it licked the earth.
He smelled a man among the smoky smells. It was Jack the janitor. At least the leg Sparkle sniffed was Jacks. Sparkle tugged on it with his teeth. A low moan greeted that action. He tugged some more, dragging backward with all his strength. Jack began to help move away from the smoke.
It was getting hotter. Flames licked at the storage shed. The sound of paint cans popping and oily rags sizzling made Sparkle bark. Jack’s hand found Sparkles collar. They renewed their journey away from danger.
It seemed like it took forever. Jack had tears in his eyes when Sparkle finally could see him. Fingers of smoke reached out to grab him then settled down to the ground. The janitor coughed out puffs of gray smoke from his lungs. He did not look happy. Sparkle jumped up to lick his hand. Sparkle knew what sadness felt like.
He followed Jack towards the school door. The janitor stumbled a lot. Sparkle wove in and out of the janitor’s legs liking the game they played. It ended too soon. Jack went inside the building and pulled at the wall making it ring loud and long like the sound of the biggest bird ever.
Sparkle hunted for his ball when he saw the kids marching in rows as they came outside, thinking they might want to play again. There was a lot of unhappy screaming going on. Everyone was sad today.
Everyone but Jack the janitor. He was now all smiles. Sparkle wagged his tail when Jack picked him up into a big hug. He kissed Jack back with a long wet tongue. The day was turning out to be a happy one after all.
Jack had sparkles in his eyes. It made Sparkles happy to see them. He knew he had made a new friend for life.