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The Bridge Home

“Slow down, Petey! You’re going to hurt yourself!”

They’d been to that park a hundred times, at least, and Abe had never seen the dog so excited.

“Whoa, boy!” Abe was doing all he could to keep up, but Petey was straining against the leash, pulling toward the open field where children played kickball in the afternoons.

Abe’s knees creaked and his back ached. He hadn’t run so fast since Lucky was a pup, back in the old neighborhood. Back when Aaron was a boy.

Back in the good old days.

When dog and man burst out from beneath the tree cover, Abe couldn’t believe his eyes. They were standing — well, sprinting — underneath the most vibrant, beautiful rainbow he’d ever seen.

It began somewhere behind them, and disappeared into the neighborhoods at the backside of the field.

Petey pivoted and tugged for all he was worth toward the rainbow’s end.

Spring grass passed under Abe’s feet like a fleeting childhood, fresh and green and hopeful, bathed in morning dew.

His lungs ached, and he couldn’t catch his breath enough to even plead with Pete to slow down, and so they didn’t.

After what seemed like both days and the blink of an eye, they pulled to a stop under an old oak, just beginning to don its new coat. Fresh clover already grew lush under the tree, and trailed off through a broken wooden fence.

Petey followed the trail, and so did Abe.

Suddenly, he realized they were standing in someone’s back yard.

“We can’t be here, Petey,” he whispered hoarsely to the dog, looking around to see if anyone had seen them.

And then he spotted the overgrown rose garden near the covered back porch.

And the poured cement sidewalk, cracked and crumbled, but still home to a tiny handprint.

Abe would know the place anywhere, even in his dreams. Especially in his dreams.

Beside him, Petey was scratching at the oak’s trunk. Abe could see the carving before he turned to take it in.

“Aaron loves Lucky.”

Petey sat at the base of the tree and cried.

In the distance, the rainbow disappeared into the future.

Published inFlash Fiction

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