Here it is! I call it "Strays" similar to the Mark Richard short story hehe.
Jeremiah roamed the streets of Hailgan, looking for his beloved dog, Barry. It was easy to get lost or hurt in the streets of Hailgan, but luckily, Jeremiah was used to navigating them. The crowds of Haligan were known for not looking where they were going--they had stepped on Jeremiah before--and now he knew to stick to the side of the road to avoid them.
It was Jeremiah’s ninth birthday, and Barry had been missing for a year now.
Jeremiah remembered the first day he had met Barry. Jeremiah was whistling, dragging a stick along the fence of a house, when suddenly, a man sitting on the porch of the house called to him, “You! You stole a loaf of bread from my shop yesterday!”
Jeremiah ran as fast as his legs could carry him—but it was nothing compared to how fast an adult could run. Eventually, the man caught him by the back of his shirt. Jeremiah was in tears, claiming he hadn’t stolen the bread when he knew full well that he had. The man held up a closed fist, but miraculously decided to let Jeremiah go with a heavy sigh.
“Find yourself a family, kid. That way you won’t have to steal.” He had said.
He made it sound so easy. It wasn’t as if Jeremiah liked being an urchin. Quite the opposite. He had been abandoned by his parents three years ago and had been on his own ever since. It had just been awful experience after awful experience since then.
He would never forget the night his parents had lovingly put him to sleep with an affectionate song, kissed his forehead, and then turned out the lights.
Jeremiah felt the immense comfort he always felt when they put him to bed. He knew he was safe and sound, and would awaken the next day to go to school and play with his friends when he came home. Life was predictable, and a child his age couldn’t possibly envision what an unpredictable life would be like.
Until he had awakened the next morning and found that his parents were gone. He looked in all of the rooms in his small house—which amounted to four—calling their names. When he couldn’t find them, he began to panic a little. His parents had never left him alone like that. He checked in with the neighbors, who also said they didn’t know where they went to.
Bravely, Jeremiah made himself breakfast and went to school by himself. He had been incredibly quiet that day, as discomfort seeped into his bones and unseated him from a predictable and happy life. When he had returned home, he flung the door open cheerfully, calling for his parents, but they were nowhere to be found.
He had stopped going to school three days after his parents hadn’t returned home. He sat in the chair in front of his house, unblinkingly searching for his parents within the crowds that would pass by, but he never found them. Eventually, his stomach had started growling at him, and he had begun stealing, and before he knew it, he no longer had the comfort of knowing where and when his next meal was coming from, where he would be sleeping—due to his house being sold to someone else--or who was friendly and who was not.
An older urchin had offered to share food with him once, but it was a trick. The older urchin stole what little food he had and ran away. Jeremiah learned, at the age of six, not to trust anyone.
He had become somewhat of a lovable town rascal after that—stealing when he had to steal and begging when he had to beg. Most people recognized him and gave him coin, but it wasn’t enough to feed him on most days.
Sometimes, he was so hungry that his stomach felt like an empty pit. Jeremiah remembered sitting on a street corner in the rain a year ago, sneezing while performing a silly dance for money, and wishing more than anything that he had a roof over his head.
It wasn’t just a roof over his head and a full stomach that he wanted. His heart ached, too. He was an unwanted child, discarded because he wasn’t good enough to be his parents’ son. Nobody wanted him, because there was something fundamentally wrong with him.
But something remarkable happened the next year. He was humming a song on the street corner for cash when he noticed something lying in the road. Curiously, he approached it.
It was a four-leafed-clover. He remembered his parents telling him that they were lucky. He crouched, picking it up. He took a moment to pray to god, “Please let something wonderful happen to me. You gave me this clover, after all!”
But a week passed. And then another. And nothing happened.
Angrily, Jeremiah threw the clover to the floor with tears in his eyes. I was stupid to think that that would work. Jeremiah walked away from the clover, sniffling bitterly. When he was a yard away, he glanced over his shoulder.
He saw a brown bulldog nuzzling the leaf with its nose. Jeremiah gasped, not realizing he cared so much about the clover. He dashed back to it, calling to the dog, “Stop it! That’s mine! What are you doing?”
The dog sat on its rump innocently, barking cheerfully. Jeremiah growled. He swiped the clover leaf up. “That’s mine! Stupid dog!”
Jeremiah began walking away, but the dog whimpered sadly. Jeremiah turned around. The dog’s eyes were lowered sadly. Jeremiah sighed. He pet the dog’s head. “I guess you don’t have a family either, huh…? Want to be friends?”
The dark barked cheerfully, and it began following him around. The two were inseparable, and finally, Jeremiah felt secure in something again; he had the undying loyalty of his dog, Barry, who was with him day or night, preventing him from being mugged, and even got him a few extra tips when he begged.
He had someone to play with again—someone who wouldn’t abandon him—and it gave him a sense of home. He was the happiest he had been since he had lost his parents. He liked racing his dog from one side of town to the other, teaching his dog tricks, and even playing fetch with items he would find in the street.
He and his dog were two peas in a pod; cast aside, living on the streets, jeered at… and now, they could be castaways together.
Everything was good, until one day, he had fallen asleep—using his dog as a pillow—and when he awoke, his dog was gone, just like his parents were years earlier.
Jeremiah was alone again and cried for his lost pup. He wasn’t good enough to be his parents’ child, and he wasn’t good enough to be a dog’s companion. And it wasn’t just that Barry had disappeared; he had taken the clover with him.
Now, Jeremiah was more bitter than ever. He trusted no one, and relied more on stealing than ever—having no remorse for a world that had abandoned him. He had no more joy or hope left in his heart, and resented the fact that he had ever given the last shred of love to a creature who only used him as a meal ticket.
But then, one day, Jeremiah saw another clover in the road. He picked it up, and with a grunt of anger, intended to rip it. But then, he heard a bark.
He looked to his right and saw Barry.
Tears sprung to his eyes. “Barry!” he embraced the dog, who licked his face. But then, the dog wrestled free of his embrace and began barking.
Jeremiah cocked his head to the side. “You want me to follow you?” Jeremiah followed the dog through the town until they left it, and then followed him further. “Where are we going? I’m getting tired Barry!”
Jeremiah followed Barry until night fell, and they had to rest. In the morning, Barry continued at the same pace, and Jeremiah followed him until they arrived at a different town—one that was quite a bit wealthier than his old one. And finally, Barry brought him to a house—a white, two story house with a beautiful garden out front.
Jeremiah was devastated. He swallowed a lump in his throat. “Is this your new home, boy? Well… I’ll tell them that you’re back. I’ll miss you…”
Jeremiah embraced Barry for what he thought would be the last time, and then knocked on the door. A man and a woman answered—a handsome couple by any standard—and beamed at seeing Barry. “Oh! You’ve returned Barry! We were so worried about you!”
Jeremiah looked at his feet. “I brought him home. I’m glad he has a nice place to stay…” Jeremiah knelt next to Barry, nuzzling his face into the dog’s fur. “Goodbye, boy. You were the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Jeremiah turned away, intending to head back to his old town, but Barry whimpered, nuzzling him affectionately. The handsome couple knelt by Jeremiah. “What’s your name? Where are your parents?”
What Jeremiah was not expecting, was for the couple to adopt both him and his dog.
Truly, meeting Barry was the luckiest thing that ever happened to him.