The game: you give me a Buddhist-themed noun, an action, and a location, and I create the story. Today, I was given the noun “memento,” the action “to reunite,” and a location “old neighborhood.” Hope you enjoy the read!
The smell of freshly baked bread is what gave it away, along with Master’s incessant cooing as they approached their destination. They were back in Snowflake’s old neighborhood; the wretched place that had churned him out a few winters ago, along with all the other undesirable puppies; that had transformed him into one of the many scrawny, miserable strays that haunted the narrow, pebbled streets.
Today Snowflake could not see any of his peers, which he was cautiously relieved about. Having been adopted by Master many meals ago (so many he had lost count), his fur had become so lush, and his belly so full, that his former crew would no doubt guess at his weakness, and taunt him all the more for it. Worst of all was the humiliating leash, which in this very moment Master was tying up to the decrepit bench that stood outside the bakery. Don’t leave me with them, Snowflake implored Master with his big brown eyes, but she carried about her business without taking any notice of his desperate plea.
As he watched Master enter the shop, Snowflake pulled himself together; they would be here any minute now, his nose warned him, and he had to make an impression if he was going to survive the inevitable face-off. Sure enough, as he puffed out his chest to make himself appear bigger, they started coming out of the shadows, one after the other, eying him, sniffing him, silently reprimanding him.
“Well, well, well,” snickered Rufus, who was rumored to have become second in command when Snowflake was caught by animal control on that fateful day. “If it isn’t Scarface, back from no-man’s-land.” Snowflake cringed at the mention of his old street name, which reminded him of the years he had spent scavenging for food, seeking shelter from the rain, running away from hateful humans.
“What have you been up to, you old dog?” Rufus asked, as he positioned himself opposite Snowflake, while the others made circles around them. “You’ve certainly been living it up,” the ring leader continued resentfully, taking in the clean fur, the full belly, and the succulent, meaty aromas that lingered on his predecessor’s breath.
As they stood nose to nose, Snowflake noticed with mounting anger that Rufus was wearing his bandana, which had a tear from when Snowflake had attempted, and failed, to escape the grips of animal control. Unable to contain his fury, Snowflake’s lips curled in a snarl, revealing his sharp teeth. He was getting ready for the kill, and a nip at his tail warned Snowflake that his old crew were just as eager to fight.
But just when all hell was about to break loose, out came the baker, followed by Master, and two other humans, all waving their hands and shouting at the top of their lungs, which had the desired effect of making the strays scatter back into the shadows from which they had emerged. And here Master, with her cooing voice, petted Snowflake, promised him a fresh piece of bred, as she untied him from the shackles of the bench. It wasn’t until they had taken a few steps forward that Snowflake noticed the banana lying on the pebbled ground, forgotten in the chaos. Leave it, he told himself, as he looked eagerly ahead; his new life had no space for such mementos.