I don’t know how I got here. What had happened to me? I felt like I was reincarnated that day with my fear, scraps of memories and wounded legs. I could remember only horror, somebody had been shouting… And then an awful stick beating me, and my legs bent because of the pain. I had felt myself as the paltriest dog in the world and then one day I had managed to run away. I didn’t ask the question — why they were so angry with me. It was obvious: such a disgusting, measly dog deserved only contempt and violation. That is a harsh law of nature: the weakest one must suffer and die. And I knew that nobody could be uglier and more unworthy than me…
When I stopped my panic run, I found myself in a school court. There were children scampering everywhere but at first nobody noticed me under the low-sagging branches of an old hawthorn tree. However, children are attentive, and their eyes often see what those adults miss – so they noticed me, especially since the white spots on my fur stood out sharply in the wet shadows smelling of autumn soil.
— Look, there is a dog! — One boy cried. A few children gathered around my makeshift shelter.
— Poor doggy, it must be hungry. Let’s feed it!
— Are you crazy? It will bite you!
— Yeah, it must have rabies. I won’t move closer!
— You just said rubbish. Look, it’s trembling. It must be cold.
— Let’s carry it into the school where it is warmer!
— Don’t touch her ! You will catch an army of fleas !
Somebody brought a sausage and held a small morsel of it out to me. The wonderful smell permeated my nose, reached my stomach… I felt tickling inside and stretched forward for the food. My paws stepped forward uneasily, and I hardly saw anything around me except that fragrant piece. Suddenly a heavy door of the school snapped loudly behind my tail and a wave of fear covered me. I squealed softly and darted away, down the corridor. I huddled in fear in the first dark place I could find. But the children found me again under a stair and threw me the sausage. I even didn’t notice how it slid and disappeared down my throat fear of survival had replaced the ecstasy of finally be allowed to eat. Then I heard an echoing ringing and the children, amid a boisterous hubbub, left me alone in the dark and dusty corner. As they rushed away, I looked out and met the gaze of one girl who had stopped on the staircase.
— What should I do with you? — She said thoughtfully. — They will just kick you out again. There is cold and you are injured… Now I’m going to piano class. Will you wait for me? We’ll decide something, you and me.
I hid deeply in the dark and gradually got warm. Licking of my wounded forelegs helped me to stop the bleeding although it was painful to touch the injured places. I was not really waiting for her.. Minutes dripped down like the drops somewhere in the rusty water pipe from some appliance that seemed frozen above my head. She returned.
I couldn’t expect that she would gather me up and caress me and carry me out from the school. It was so strange that I became quiet and felt myself disappear in her arms. She smelled of compote, autumn leaves and something else, something that could come only from her: unique, and therefore unrepeatable.
— I’m not sure that you will follow me, — she panted, placing me again on the ground. It seemed hard for her to carry me. I looked at her shoes slipping and sliding amid the soggy mud. Trees passed by us with last and lonely leaves — red, yellow, withered…
Then she stopped hesitantly and said:
— Go left a little, we are almost there, but… I can’t hold you anymore. Look, there is a corner, we should go there and the first porch is ours. — The five-storey panel hulk towered over us. — If you are really my dog, you will follow me, — she added in resolute tone and put me on the asphalt. — What will I tell my mother?.. I’ll decide. — The girl made a few steps forward and turned to me.
— Are you coming? — Her voice was affectionate -- I had never heard these sounds before. And I didn’t know how or why I headed to her. It seemed like my pained little legs, scrambling forth with all the small energy left to them, brought me there.
— Well done, my dear, my poor little one, well done, — she praised me. Why had she taken me ? Now nothing seemed to fit in my head; the thoughts were absolutely confused. And the door of my home flung open in front of me for the first time in my life.