“Dark heart, brave heart, dear heart, heart heart heart. People are obsessed with hearts today” Edward muttered to himself as he wandered along the road aimlessly.
Although the day was bright and sunny Edward’s disposition was not. He had wandered along this road so many times since he had been moved here. It wasn’t an exceptional road. It had a few shops, a big supermarket, an obligatory pub and a cafe, with the usual pavement each side of a fairly busy road. Whenever Edward walked along it, no matter the number of people he encountered, he still felt alone and unloved. On special days, such as this one, when everyone’s minds turned to thoughts of love Edward felt even worse than normal.
“Love. They all talk of it, but what do they really know of it?” He asked through a whisper as he sat down on the bench between the hardware store and the bank. Carelessly he dropped his hat in front of him. “I love you, do you love me, I love…” he continued his discourse for no-one but himself.
Since losing his job and falling into debt, which meant losing his home Edward’s life had not been comfortable. Despite trying to get in on some of the government’s programmes for people in his situation he never seemed to ‘fit the profile’. As he sat in the sun he remembered the days of plenty when he thought he had known love. All the time he noticed the averted gazes of the passers-by. Closing his eyes he settled back and took in the warmth of the day. Little by little he dozed off.
Dreaming of his previous life Edward suddenly became aware of a presence beside him. He knew no-one would sit beside him normally and wondered who on Earth might have been brave enough to join the poor old tramp that he was. He was reluctant to do anything to change the situation. He didn’t want to break the spell of the warmth of another being. It had been so long since he had felt any kindness and even having someone sitting next to him felt good.
Gradually the body next to him moved even closer and even leaned against him. Edward felt his heart beat faster at such contact. He opened his eyes and looked to see who it was that was being so bold. As he opened them he saw the kindest of faces staring into his eyes and felt a wave of pure loving energy roll over him. His companion was a beautiful golden haired retriever, or something similar. Without thinking Edward run his hands up the dog’s back and noticed immediately that the dog too had seen better days. Reaching the dogs neck he noticed there was no collar. It appeared to Edward that his new companion was no more loved than he was, yet here she was trusting a stranger. Edward smiled as the dog leaned in and licked his face lovingly.
“Hello girl,” Edward said. ‘Girl’ wagged her tail and gave Edward her paw.
“Have you fallen on hard times too?” he asked. As he stroked the dog’s back he was aware of how prominent her ribs and backbone were. He fished in his pocket for a pie he had been given. Breaking it in two he gave the dog half and had half himself. Edward devoured his half greedily while the dog gently broke pieces off watching Edward all the time. When she had finished she looked directly at Edward again, gratitude clear in her eyes; eyes that had not been dimmed by whatever she had been through recently.
“Well old girl,” Edward said to her,”I don’t know where you came from, but if you want to take up with me I would be indebted to you for your company.”
The dog barked gently as if agreeing to Edward’s suggestion.
“I’ve no idea what you might be called though,” Edward said. “So in honour of today how does ‘Val’ sound?”
Again the dog, now Val, barked lightly at him.
Edward hugged Val to him. In short time he had given his heart again. What a strange turnaround his life had gone through yet again. Looking down at his hat he saw that the kindness of strangers was greater than normal too. there were a few more coins in there than normal.
“Well Val, it looks like…” he began.
“What a beautiful dog,” a well-dressed woman said as she stooped to drop some coins in Edward’s hat. “Just a little something for her food,” she added and went on her way.
Edward looked down. The woman had dropped at last five pound coins in his hat. “As I was about to say, Val. It looks like you’re my lucky charm. before you came I was lucky if I made this much money in a week. I’m betting we’re going to be a great team, and we’ll get you fattened up in no time, my sweetheart.”