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  • Dia Jain

Shadows of Solitude

My shallow breath echoed softly throughout the dark deserted road as tears streamed down my cheeks uncontrollably. I looked around, my heart shattered and my mouth unable to form words. I could not believe what had happened. I have never experienced such pain. My mind replayed the events over and over, each time more painful than the last. The anguish flowed in waves and heaving sobs tore from my chest as I buried my face deeper and deeper into my knees.

Pain is, after all, the end product of attachment, love, regret but most of all, hope. Sometimes, life generously offers us crossroads that we do not want to cross, that we do not want to face, and that we want to avoid.

To explain how my entire life crumbled in a mere ten seconds, let me take you back ten years, when I was a bright-eyed fifteen year old with an adventurous spirit. My name is Rachel Kennedy, I live in France with my parents and my older brother. This small yet sweet family had a new addition then, Bruno, a Golden Retriever who, in a heartbeat, had become my world. 

Who knew a dog could heal things you didn't know were broken?

There was something truly magical about Bruno. I remember waking up every morning to his excited barks and wet kisses, watching him playfully bound through the house and grinning every time his tail whipped back and forth with enough excitement to nearly knock him over.

Even my parents, who had never been fond of dogs, couldn't resist Bruno’s charm. They showered him with treats and belly rubs, loving him unconditionally. My brother was deeply attached to Bruno as well. He would play the guitar for him, teach him tricks and dress him up in his favourite clothes. When we were with Bruno, sadness just seemed to melt away.

I loved the little things – The contented sighs as he napped, his bright soulful eyes, and the nudge of his wet nose against my hand seeking affection. Years passed by, and my love for Bruno increased every day. We had a routine, I would take Bruno for a walk at night and in the morning he would jump on my bed to wake me up. I guess Monday mornings aren't so dreadful when you get to wake up to your dog’s cheerful barks and delighted hops.

Bruno was always there on the most difficult days, when I would cry in my room. He would insistently paw at the door, asking sincerely to be let in. When I opened it, he would jump and put his small paws on my shoulders, trying to comfort me. He would sit with me for hours, resting his head in my lap, listening to all my problems. An emotional connection is what I built with this dog over the years. 

I thought of Bruno's worn doggy bed, the fabric imprinted with his familiar shape and scent. I would never be able to see him snuggled in it again. He was gone, taking the warm laughter, happy barks and cheery atmosphere with him. I sobbed, feeling overwhelmed by the emptiness. 

My entire life had just crumbled in front of my eyes in a mere ten seconds. It was all such a blur. I had taken Bruno for a walk, and since it was very late at night, the streets were deserted. I decided to unleash him. Bruno and I ran around, playing fetch with a tennis ball. I threw the ball ahead of me and he sprinted, moving his furry body as fast as he could, chasing the green ball. He got the ball and held onto it tightly, pleased at himself. I laughed as he rolled around, basking in the moonlight before making his way back to me on the footpath. 

However, in the span of a heartbeat, a car barrelled around the corner at a terrifying speed, tires screeching noisily. Before Bruno could even lift his head, the vehicle slammed into him with brutal force. The driver pressed the brakes harshly, but it was too late. 

My world shattered as I saw Bruno's limp body lying motionless on the road. This couldn't be real. This had to be a nightmare. It was as if life was playing a cruel joke on me, tormenting me, punishing me. I sank to the ground, hands shaking, vision blurred with tears, enveloped in the darkness of the cold and unforgiving night. Wails of anguish tore from my throat as I held Bruno’s lifeless body in my arms. 

I could hear footsteps approaching, but I couldn't bear to look at the person whose recklessness and immaturity had done this. How could anyone be so appallingly careless? How does one simply not see an innocent creature and keep driving so dangerously? How could anyone take Bruno away from me?

As the driver drew nearer, I lifted my gaze to meet his face – only for the blood to be drained from my own. My heart stopped as I realized what had happened. The eyes staring back at me weren't those of a soulless stranger, but instead, they were my older brother’s.

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