their loyalty

How cold the wind blew.

It had never been his friend. Sheathed in armor of the thickest fur around, Kjetil soared across the white Alaskan carpet aided by his friends: a fearless gang of Huskies.

Kjetil knew no human so loyal, so patient, so fearless as these dogs. Every time he had grown close to a human, he had regretted it. But a dog? Never. They would never let him down.

He was so tempted to check his bag to make sure the medicine was still there, but there was no time for that. With the angry ice drilling in his face, he had to stay rooted in his purpose.

Ah, but there was a human that had almost been as loyal, as patient, and as fearless as his dogs.

Hilde—his precious Hilde. Chubby red cheeks, a modest fluff of blonde hair . . . his little girl. Her mother had left long ago, leaving Hilde as her parting gift.

The thought of Hilde’s tossing and turning, her cries of pain, and her sweaty cheeks made Kjetil yell for his dogs to go faster. He knew they were trying their hardest, but the ache inside of him was too strong. Hilde needed the medicine.

She needed it now.

“Don’t tell him.”

“But we must eventually—”

“Don’t tell him, not yet. The man lived for this child.”

“Will he be all right?”

“With time. Time heals all wounds.”

Kjetil, covered in a heap of powdered sugar, stormed into the house.

“I have it! I have it!”

There was the sound of swishing skirts, but no voices.

“Ingrid? Janne?” More swishing. Finally, the elderly twins shuffled through the doorway.

“Hello, Kjetil,” one of them said (Kjetil could never tell which was which). The twins wore almost identical flowered dresses, except one pattern was shades of green and one was shades of blue. Their gray hair, in perfect braids, sat on their shoulders as if they were still schoolgirls.

“Where is she? Where is she?” Kjetil’s feet tripped over each other, as did his words, in his haste.

“Upstairs,” Ingrid said.

“One moment,” Janne began, but Kjetil whipped past her.

“Kjetil!” A twin called.

Outside, the dogs pawed at the ground. The leader looked off into the snowy distance, raising his head in a signal. The other dogs peered into the haze, trying to see what he saw.

There it was. The silhouette of a girl, tiny but strong.

She danced in the snow, pigtails whipping around her like pinwheels. Her feet left no marks.

The dogs nodded their condolences, worried how their master would take the news. He was a gentle, quiet soul, but he lived for that girl. It would be their duty to keep him doing; and they would do so, or die trying.

The leader let out a single howl for his master’s child, his canine eulogy. His pack followed along, and together they ushered the child out of this world and into the next.

Published by Amanda Brown

INFP who names inanimate objects, loves to laugh, and is a proud old soul. You can often find her planning out her next crazy project, hugging books, or telling stories about her day that *may* be a little exaggerated.

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