Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Friend (11/02/17)
TITLE: The Long Wait
By Bonnie Bowden
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After the door shut, Carlo Soriano looked out at the snowfall that had blanketed the small Tuscan town of Borgo San Lorenzo.
He slogged to the factory bus stop. A sign read: Gli autobus non sono in funzione a causa del clima. I hope my wife will not be overly worried when I’m not home at my usual time. I wish there was some way to get word to her.
After exhaling deeply, he watched a puff of fog escape his lips. He wrapped his wool scarf tighter around his face and neck as the ice crystals cut into his eyes causing them to water.
His weary feet, heavy, as a ballast on a crane, trudged through drifts of snow, pant legs pulled over hiking boots, stomped forward, deep into white crevasses, every step a kilometer, every kilometer a century, forward his mind voiced, but his body was left behind, the time coated with molasses through a sheer curtain of white lace.
He brushed against a cypress tree, and the snow fell to the ground, revealing the green needles underneath. After he had crossed the bridge over the icy torrent of Le Cale, he heard a sound from down in a ravine.
Carefully, Carlo clambered down to save the injured animal. Droplets of blood left a trail to the body of the injured mongrel. Gently picking up the limp white body with many dark piebald markings, Carlo tucked him under his arm, but it was shivering so fiercely that he opened his coat and zipped it in. Its ribcage jabbed into his side and he could feel a sticky wetness running down his skin.
Not knowing who the dog belonged to, Carlo and his wife painstakingly nursed him back to health. Carlo’s wife said, “He looks like the neighbor’s dog when I was growing up; his name was Fido.”
Whenever Carlo looked behind him, he saw his constant companion, Fido. Early each morning, they would make their daily trek to the Luco di Mugello bus stop. Carlo felt Fido’s watchful eyes as he boarded the bus for his job.
After a hard day’s work, Carlo waited for the slobbery kisses and wagging tail of his friend, and their walk back home.
Nothing could have prepared him for that day two years later when the allied troops bombed his factory. The explosion knocked him to the ground, and then….
The undercarriage of the bus radiated heat as Fido waited. He wiggled his nose and sniffed for his master’s earthy, smoky scent.
Something was up. After all the passengers had gotten off, he hadn’t spotted his beloved pal. Finally, he decided to go home and check for him there. Only Carlo’s beautiful wife greeted him.
Still, he couldn’t give up, not for the man who had saved his life. Day after day he came. Day after day he went home disappointed.
The villagers called to him, but he only had eyes for one.
“Here, Fido,” Luigi called. As soon as Fido licked his lips and grabbed the beef knuckle or leg bone out of the butcher’s hand, he would return to his favorite spot to wait.
His hair became gray and his steps became slower. And then one day as he lay down to sleep, his nose twitched and he smelled the most heavenly scent in the world.
*Fido made this trip more than 5,000 times according to one account.
Fiction based on a true story.
“Italy: Fido.” Time, April 1, 1957.
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