It was on the third anniversary of wife’s death that Molly came into my life. I realized, at age thirty-four, that I could not bear being alone anymore- and dating again was completely out of the question.

So off I went to the local animal shelter. It truly tugged my heart seeing all the dogs in their prisons. I seriously wanted to take them all home. However the moment I set my eyes on Irish setter mix, my heart skipped a beat.

After we visited in the fenced off area, I knew that this was going to be the dog for me.

I learned as I filled out the paperwork, and paid my fee, that she had been found on the street six months before, and had been in perfect condition. She had no collar on her…so they assumed that she had been abandoned.

The name Molly just came to me- I am not sure why; it just seemed to fit. Those first few weeks were a little strained. I discovered that she was a nervous and shy dog. She was even scared at first when I tried to take her to the park…and heavens to bid if I ever removed her leash and try and play ball with her. She would just stick close to me, with her ears and tail down low.

But over the following weeks and indeed months her confidence grew. And she began to trust me.

I am fortunate to be a writer-so that I work from my apartment- so Molly is never far from my side. Since my wife’s death- I had never felt so loved.

Last month we were visiting my sister, in the next county, and we were walking in a local park with molly lolloping joyfully at my side.

All at once I hear a woman screaming jubilantly at us- or rather at Molly..

“Sally, Sally,’ she kept calling as tears streamed down her face “Is that really you sally?”

I studied the woman with interest, she was about my age, and dressed in jeans and a pink sweatshirt.

But what most caught my attention was Molly, as she began to drag me towards the mystery woman.

My heart sank.

The woman introduced herself to me as Julie Flinch, and told me that she was a school teacher nearby where I lived. She explained that she had been visiting friends six months ago, and that Sally’s collar had broke.

My face must have shown the heartbreak that I was feeling, as Julie put her arm on my shoulder.

“You can come and visit her anytime you like she said,”

She scribbled down her home phone number on the back of a business card and handed it to me.

Forcing a smile, I thanked her and placed it into my jean pocket.

Then I knelt down and hugged Molly goodbye.

With that Julie smiled at me “I am afraid we need to be going,” she said, “but please call me some time- I am sure that Sally is going to miss you. I can tell how close the two of you are- which is strange as she usually doesn’t take to men. My old boyfriend was a bit of a jerk to her I am afraid. But he’s gone- and sally is still here…”

With that she took the leash from me.

“I should let you keep the lovely collar and leash,” she said.

“I have no need for it now,” I said trying desperately to hold back the tears that were welling in my eye ducts.

And with that they walked away. I stood there, silent, as they made their way across the park and out into the street.

Once again I was all alone.

To be continued…

P.S. Gifford

P.S. Gifford is a published horror author of great talent. He started submitting stories around 2005. His short stories are by far some of the best and most entertaining that I have read. Around that time he was invited to write columns which are titled "Paperback Writer."

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