After the rain stopped, a dog appeared from an alley. It zig-zagged up the sidewalk, sniffed at a door with green paint that curled up in half-peels and then stopped to lap at a puddle of dirty water.
The dog was caramel colored with medium length hair that was darker in some areas where it gathered into mats between raw, bald spots. A frayed rope hung from its leather collar, a dangling reminder of the jail from which the dog had just escaped.
The dog moved with a heavy slowness, dragging the invisible weight of a broken spirit. It had been too hungry, cold, and neglected for too long to start to heal in a day or two out of the yard. In fact, freedom wasn’t so different from incarceration in the backyard where it had lived tied to a tractor tire for the past few years. Either way, there wasn’t any food, clean water or anyone to give a damn if it lived or died.
He reflected the people living in the abandoned and dilapidated buildings along the cracked sidewalk. They lumbered through life with their heads down, too sad, lonely and hopeless for too long.
No one came after the dog as it wandered into the distance, further from the yard and ever closer to an tenuous future that was certain to end with Animal Control or crumpled in an alleyway. Still, freedom was worth it.