Chapter 3 : Chapter Two.
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"Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes."
- Mahatma Gandhi.
I don’t know how long I was outside the house for – definitely a few hours – before Carl finally emerged from the house, kissing his mother on the cheek. After his mother had forbid him goodbye, Carl began to walk back down the steep hill. I followed him carefully, padding softly along the pavement in a quick pace.
The sky was really dark by now. The moon was shining and the stars were twinkling down at me. While Carl had been holed up in his mother’s cottage, I had gone through a range of reasons why his mother looked so ill – and why he had been smiling when he saw her in such a state – but none of my reasons made sense!
When Carl reached the bottom of the hill, he took a left turning into a busy street. Big, speeding vehicles sped past me in a blur of light, leaving me bewildered and scared. I continued stalking Carl, until he stopped at a small off-license.
When he came out, with a carton tucked under his arm, I sat and stared at him, wagging my tail excitedly. He looked down at me and smiled, before kneeling beside me and patting my head and ruffling my fur slightly.
“Hey, boy.” He whispered, setting his carton of ‘Soya Milk’ beside me. I sniffed it. I couldn’t quite put my paw on the smell, but I put it down as coconut, which I detected a faint whiff of.
“Who do you belong to?” Carl asked, smiling at me while he checked my neck for a collar. When he couldn’t find one, he stared into my eyes and rubbed my back.
“You’re a stray?” He asked. I inclined my head slightly, and he grinned.
“Come on,” He said, picking up his carton and standing up, “I know somewhere we can go.”
Carl led me down the street, and through a couple of dark alleyways, until we reached a large stretch of wasteland.
“Welcome to my home.” Carl smiled wryly at me, as we trotted towards a small building at the far end. I carefully dodged anything that could potentially damage my paws, until we reached the building.
I sat and stared at it, my tongue lolling out of my mouth slightly. Carl stood next to me, the carton hanging in his hand as we stared at the shed.
This is where Carl Thomas lives?
I looked up at him pitifully. I felt sorry for him, but on the contrary, he seemed quite pleased to be ‘home’. I waited while he unlocked the padlocked door, and then followed him inside.
It wasn’t very homely, but it was quite cool! Carl had turned it into his own little shed. He’d painted the walls metallic blue, and had a little makeshift bed in the corner – a mattress and a few blankets, complete with a plain pillow. He had a whiteboard in the corner, where he had written a list of things to do over the holidays. A small lamp was by the door – Carl must have turned it on when we came inside. It wasn’t much, but it was quite exciting.
Carl walked over to the ‘bed’.
“You can sleep on the end.” He told me, indicating the end of the mattress. I smiled gratefully and curled up on top of a blanket. Carl took off his jacket and boots, switched the lamp off, and then sat down beside me, watching me as I scampered around in a circle, choosing a comfortable position to lie down in.
Once I was satisfied, I curled up in a tight little ball and closed my eyes, desperate for sleep.
“You know, I don’t have a name for you.” Carl suddenly spoke into the darkness.
I opened an eye and peered at him. He was staring down at me sadly.
“I think I’ll call you Snuffles… because you snuffle a lot – for a dog!” He grinned, then his face softened, “why don’t you have a caring family? Surely every little kid wants a dog like you. You’re amazing. Why wouldn’t anyone want you?”
I continued to stare at him. He was interrupting my sleep. I dreadfully wanted to sleep. I was just lightly drifting off when he spoke again.
“I wonder why you chose me. I noticed you following me earlier, but I didn’t think much of it. Did you wait for me while I was at my mothers? You must have been cold.”
I had been cold, actually. It was freezing out there! How dare he leave me there?
“You’re lovely,” He concluded, “Goodnight, Snuffles.”
I grunted, before dozing off.
I woke up to a loud scuffling noise by my head. Blinking blearily, I searched through the darkness for the strange noise – where was I? As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed Carl Thomas curled beside me, sleeping. He looked very sweet. I wanted to laugh, but then I remembered where I was. I wondered what time it was.
I slowly stood up onto my knees and looked around. The noise I had heard was just a stray mouse nuzzling into my hair. I lifted my hands up and ran them through my hair, sighing.
Suddenly, I realised that I had hands – where were my paws? I swore silently and realised that I must have transformed in my sleep. Checking that Carl was still fast asleep, I squeezed my eyes shut and concentrated on the image of ‘Snuffles’ as Carl called me.
After a moment, I opened my eyes again and examined my body. I checked that I had fur instead of hair; paws instead of hands and feet and a tail. I grinned and checked the other parts of my body. Perfect.
I curled up again, but I just couldn’t seem to sleep, at all. I changed my position, but nothing seemed to work. Eventually, I gave up trying and just lay in the dark for an hour or two, mulling things over in my mind. A lot had happened in the last few days – I’d been chucked out of my home, for starters.
I could see the sky through a small, square window now. It was getting lighter, so I nudged Carl’s feet with my nose. He didn’t respond, so I tried again.
After a few more, feeble attempts, I proceeded to licking his face. He stirred, but didn’t wake up. I snorted in frustration and bit his leg – gently, but firmly.
He shot up with a yelp of pain.
“What the hell – Oh, it’s just you, Snuffles!” Carl smiled as he caught sight of me, but I could see he was a bit miffed that I’d bitten him.
“Why did you bite me?” He groaned.
I stared at him through big, watery brown eyes. I must have looked innocent because his expressional softened and he chuckled lightly, tickling me behind the ear.
“Thanks,” He said. I was bewildered – why was he thanking me? I’d just bitten him! He continued, “I needed to be up soon anyway. I have some stuff to do today.”
I looked at him excitedly, my ears pointing towards the ceiling.
“I’m sorry boy, but you can’t come.”
My ears flopped down and my eyes glazed over. Why not? Why couldn’t I come? I was his pet dog, for God’s sake!
Carl must have sensed that I was annoyed, as he sat down beside me and started apologising profusely. Well, not quite.
“I’m really sorry, Snuffles, but you just can’t come! Tell you what – why don’t you go out and explore the city – enjoy yourself! Just make sure you’re back here tonight. And not too late, mind. I’d miss you.’
He smiled at me, kindly. I nodded my furry head and he stood up, unbuttoning his shirt and shoving it off, draping it over the lamp. It was getting quite light outside now.
Suddenly, it dawned on me. Carl Thomas was in a shed with me – half naked! Half the girls at school would wet themselves with excitement if they were given this opportunity. Some of the boys would too!
But I wasn’t that kind of guy. I’d seen Carl naked before – in the dormitory, at Hogwarts, and the changing rooms in Quidditch. It was no big deal. Well, it was if you liked a muscular man…
Once he had changed into a stripy black and white tee, and pulled his boots and jacket on, Carl opened the shed door and we stepped into the morning.
“I’ll see you later, boy.” He said.
And I was off, bounding excitedly into the sunrise.