The danger in loving anyone or anything is that you grant it the power to destroy you as it pleases.
Life had bludgeoned Hacker’s heart and soul with that lesson more times than he could bear, and yet … he bore it all and lived on — and loved on.
But when consumption snatched his constant Sally away from him after fifty years together, he thought his love spring had finally run dry.
He’d live the rest of his days alone, nestled into the little mountain home they built. And when the time came, he’d lay down beside Sally in the cold earth outside.
But one winter’s day, he looked out his window to find a set of tracks in the snow, leading from the woods toward his cabin. On the front porch, he found a mongrel dog, nearly frozen to death but happy enough to lick Hacker right across the face.
They had been inseparable ever since, Hacker and Frosty.
And Frosty was never more enraptured than during the first snow of winter. On those joyous occasions, the dog would track out into the woods to frolic in the fluff before Hacker was even awake, leaving two sets of footprints — one out, and one back.
As the years passed, man and beast slowed, and Hacker knew the day soon would come when one of them would leave the other behind. He prayed he’d go first.
But then winter descended early one year, surprising Hacker with a white blanket in mid-October. By the time Hacker awoke, Frosty had already left his customary tracks — but only one set.
And so Hacker journeyed out to find his trusty friend, his last friend.
They would come back together, or not at all.