📅 Published on August 5, 2021


Written by Carly H.
Edited by N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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Who else could’ve asked for a more perfect Christmas morning? The skies not quite dark yet not quite bright, snowflakes gently pelting against the windows, the fireplace giving a warm, comforting glow, and the tree itself sparkling with glitter and multi-colored lights (in this case, lights of blue and white).

James himself loved these types of mornings from Father Winter, especially when it came to Christmas and snow days from school. The toddler sat in the middle of his family living room, surrounded by torn paper and empty packages of presents. His mother, Hazel, sat on the sofa couch smiling as she adjusted the radio’s volume so the classic songs of the season could be heard well. Teddy, James’ father, smoked his pipe, also grinning at his son’s enjoyment of the various gifts he received from their relatives.

“You’ve opened everything, honey?” Hazel asked.

James took a sec to look around at the new toys, books, games, and money to spend on whatever he pleased, nodding enthusiastically.

“Everything?” His father chuckled.

“Yeah, everything, daddy!”

Teddy placed his hands on his knees, rising from his usual spot, “Oh, I don’t think so, buddy. Hold on a minute.”

With a wink, he headed out the door that led to their garage. James looked confused, staring at his mother for answers. Hazel only shrugged a playful smile on her face. His father then returned, somewhat struggling to carry a large box wrapped in red paper and tied with curled green ribbon. The young boy’s eyes widened in surprise; he had done this for his previous collection of presents, but something about this one Teddy brought in just now…it felt so appealing to him, and he had yet to even open it.

“Go on, open up. It’s all yours, son.”

James needed no convincing. His fingers quickly fiddled with the ribbon, loosening it off the box. And the instant he did so, a small noise cried out. Not just any type of noise, a yip, or yap, or- He pulled off the wrapping and removed the lid of the present, eyes wider to the point they might fall out of his head. Inside sat a puppy, staring up at who would be her new master and tail wagging. Her fur was pearly white, spots of black decorated her body all over, and her eyes seemed the most interesting to James. While most Dalmatians had eyes of either pure brown or solid black, this one has eyes of blue. Pure, icy blue. Maybe it was because one of her parents could’ve been a different breed of dog. Husky, perhaps? They were well-known for their bright blue eyes.

“James, what do you say to your daddy?”

“Oh, thank you, thank you, daddy!” James carefully lifted the puppy out; the latter wasted no time giving him various kisses all over his face.

“You like her, kiddo?”

“I love her. I love her!”

Hazel and Teddy both shared a chuckle, enjoying the sight of boy and dog.

“Remember, you have to look after her and take care of her. She is your responsibility.”

“I know, mama.”

“So you got a name for her, son?” Teddy got the camera ready.

James put on his thinking face, still holding the puppy in his lap by her underarms. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to go with a cliché name like Max or Trixie (no offense to those who had named their dogs those names), but he noticed something along the animal’s back. Her spots seemed to form some type of wings, almost angelic…

“Angel… you’re going to be Angel.”

Angel barked in reply, once again attacking James’ face with kisses as he laughed in response. These two were going to have a beautiful relationship for a long, long time.

As James grew into preteen years, he learned very much how to care for Angel with Hazel’s help, how to feed her, clean up after her, give her baths and take her on walks around the block. The easiest was playing with her; no trouble with that lesson.

Yes, this seemed like a happy family until Teddy lost his job, turning to vodka as his only comfort. This slowly turned a once loving father into a brute of a man. James nowadays found himself hiding in his bedroom, tears running down his face listening to the verbal violence between his parents and hugging Angel close to his body. The pup in question would try to comfort her master, gentle licks on his cheek. It was already scary enough to hear the shouting and screaming below downstairs, but what was the most terrifying was Teddy stomping his way upwards, Hazel’s protests falling on deaf ears, and he would barge into James’ room, ready to take out more frustration on his son, who cried while Angel could only yap in anger at the older man.

By the time he had reached sixteen, James was hardly happy like he used to be. And it wasn’t even a happy choice to be pulled out of school away from his friends and doing online courses instead, didn’t feel the same. He was stuck in a reluctant routine, from spending time cooped up in his bedroom on hours end to taking Angel out of the house as long as possible. The arguing of his folks he grew used to.  However, it still concerned him that Hazel could not stand much of a chance against Teddy in his violent drunken state of mind.

The comfort he got was from Angel and a few of his friends from an online chat. One of them was Sarah, a girl he knew back in his kindergarten days. She mostly talked of how much she missed him and also bring up events he’d missed at school, either funny or serious. James had also been informed she was planning to move out of her home someday. But she promised that he was welcome to come with her along with both their dogs. He wasn’t sure about the idea, having to leave his mother with his father being like this, but he would at least consider the offer.

He was broken out of thought by the Dalmatian, leash in her mouth and pawing at the door. A glance at the clock told him it was after 4:00, and he stretched, “Time flies fast…sort of.” James threw on his jean jacket with nothing else on his agenda, took the end of the leash from Angel, and headed outside.

The weather was between summer and autumn, a little crispy but not too cold out. James stuck a hand in his pocket, somewhat lost in idle thoughts as Angel led the way, sniffing the sidewalk and grass.  Either he just did it out of habit, or Angel seemed to know what he needed most, but he ended up at the cherry brick house out at the corner of the street. Said house belonged to his friend, who sat outside and glanced up to see him approach. Sarah smiled; her eyes of blue sparkled from the sunlight, her golden curls bouncing in the breeze. She was clad in a red skirt and white top with a matching red coat. Popcorn, her cream furred Pomeranian, yipped in excitement and bounded forward to his larger playmate. James dropped the leash to allow Angel some interaction.

“James, you made it!” Sarah trotted over to embrace her childhood best friend, “Thought you’d prefer being mostly glued to your screen.”

“I didn’t have anything else going on.” James merely shrugged. “How’s school right now?”

“Ugh, some people refuse to flush in the bathrooms; we’ve had to have an assembly about it. At least twice.” Sarah laughed weakly before her face faltered to one of seriousness, “Your parents still fighting?”

“Pretty much. Surprised there haven’t been any noise complaints with how they argue.”

The two turned their attention for a sec on the two animals, Popcorn darting in random zigzag lines while Angel bounced to the point that she seemed to resemble a large black/white grasshopper. They smiled. “It’s so funny; Popcorn’s usually timid around dogs larger than himself.”

James scratched at a spot behind his neck, “Seems Angel is an exception.”

The two began to share various conversations while their dogs played together as time faded. James barely noticed how late it was getting until he received a text from Hazel, who had been wondering where her little chocolate chip was. He only informed her that he was hanging with a friend of his and that he was doing alright. Sarah noticed it getting late too and offered James to stay for supper. Her parents were out for the evening, and she had several TV Dinners. He thought about it for a moment and then agreed. Sarah felt a little bad about giving James a cliché dinner that would offend most others. But he didn’t mind; it was best to have a fried chicken meal (that came with corn, mashed potatoes, and a brownie to finish off) then having to sneak down and take a few items to nibble on while his parents were distracted by their fight. The friends sat on the couch together while Angel and Popcorn sat by their respective masters’ feet, watching on Netflix “Green Eggs and Ham” that everyone had been raving about recently. Fascinating to take a simple children’s book and turn it into something rather emotional and enjoyable.

It was rather dark out when James finally had to head home with Angel. Sarah offered him her flashlight to borrow to find his way; they both waved a small farewell and separated. As the boy and Dalmatian approached the house, they began slowing down. Would Hazel and Teddy still be awake? Would James get in trouble yet again for staying out this late? Sure, he had informed his mother but not his father, so who knew.

James switched off the flashlight, “Okay…let’s just say you got distracted by a cat, and it took a while to stop chasing you down?”

Angel gave an offended snort.

“I know, it’s not like you, but I’m running out of excuses.”

He reached slowly for the door, pressing in the code to unlock it, and stepped cautiously inside with Angel by his side. Carefully now, he just had to make his way towards the staircase and head for his room. The lights came on, startling them both.

‘Well, shit.’

“James, is that you, honey?” Hazel made her way down to greet her son, “You’ve been gone more than usual.”

“Mama, I told you I was with a friend. You remember Sarah. She offered me to stay for-”

“The hell have you been?” Teddy followed, more likely, stumbled down the stairs. He’d been drinking yet again, as James could tell from that sadly familiar smell.

“Dad, I was with a friend, and she-”

“That little blonde brat, was it? You know how we ought to feel about them selfish rich folk! They can afford more than us and tend to rub it in our faces!”

“Teddy, please don’t-” Hazel was immediately muted out of the conversation.

“Why do we even bother spending money on anything if we get nothing in return? It just goes to waste with what we place it on, such as that mongrel!” he jabbed in Angel’s direction, “She was way too much. I don’t know why I bothered spending my last cents on such a useless animal!”

James felt a spark of anger; it was one thing to insult his mother, but belittling the one creature that stayed by his side so long. “If you think you can just-”

“I’m not thinking, boy. I know. Best we get rid of her to save us some real cash, got it?”

A deep growl rumbled forward from the animal, growing louder as Teddy forcefully approached, pushing James and Hazel aside. The second he was within reach of her collar, Angel bit down with full force, refusing to let go. James quickly escorted Hazel out of the room for safety. He couldn’t remember a time he’d seen Angel this pissed, and this didn’t look pleasant. Teddy’s screams and Angel’s roaring barks filled the house, both James and Hazel holding onto each other underneath the kitchen table. The noises went on for seemingly about a half hour till they slowly died down, but mother and son remained on edge, merging from their hiding spot. James slowly peeked in first to the living room and paled at the sight before him; blood was almost everywhere; the floor, walls, and furniture were speckled dark red. Teddy lay in the corner of the room, grasping at his mouth, which bled heavily from the inside. Angel turned to her master; her muzzle also tinted pinkish red as well as her front paws. He squinted at the pink item in her teeth. There was no way that couldn’t be a…  The Dalmatian in question only gave her tail a happy wag as she swallowed it whole.

“James, we just can’t.”

“But why? She just protected us, and this is how you thank her? You just plan to give her away?”

James stomped back and forth, unable to believe what Hazel had the nerve to suggest.

“I don’t know how she would turn into such a dangerous animal, but-”

“Dad was the dangerous one! Can’t you see that he’s straight-up fucked in the head now?”

“James, enough-”

“No, not enough! I’m not sending away Angel after all she’s done for me, unlike you have!” James clenched his fists in anger, “You think I liked being pulled out of school, away from my friends? Away from the only other safe place I had from you two?”

“Please, it’s hard enough with your father’s condition as it is!”

“He USED to be my father.”

Hazel was slowly moving away from worrying concern to annoyance at her son’s persistence.

“All I’m saying is-”

“Do you enjoy being his punching bag? When did my mother all of a sudden become a masochist for that asshole?”

“Stop it, James, please-”

“That’s the real reason you refuse to leave him, isn’t it? You care more about your own bitchy needs than you do your SON!”

James mostly expected Hazel to break down into admitting he was right. He just didn’t expect her hand to make contact with his face, knocking him backward. It left him briefly in shock and shaken, eyes moving to gaze at his mother. She had the look of shock in her eyes at what she had done, but he could care less. He couldn’t anymore, not with how she felt the better idea was giving away his only comfort. Hazel’s voice fell on deaf ears as James rushed up the stairs, slightly stumbling as he slammed the door to his room. He managed to catch his breath which slowly turned into soft sobs as he held his legs close to his body, hiding his face in his knees. Angel, who had been kept cooped upstairs during the whole argument, moved her way towards her master, gently nuzzling his cheek. He eventually hugged the dog close to him and then brought out his phone to dial a certain number. The choice had been made there and then.

It took a few more years to plan out the best time and what to bring along, but sure enough, James was ready to move out with Angel by his side. During this time, he had hardly interacted with his mother. He didn’t care to visit Teddy, who had remained in the hospital most of the time. He still gave her his phone number so she could call him up, but if and only if she promised to get herself help and away from Teddy’s abuse. Hazel was hesitant, but promised that she would.

James loaded Angel into the back with Popcorn, took his seat beside Sarah in the car, and off they went to their destination with a nod. The house they arrived at was located on one of those small streets where few families lived. It had a big enough yard for the dogs to romp around in, and even had a forest and creek a few yards off; it looked nice enough to take a hike in or even camp out at.

Not surprisingly, it didn’t take very long for various people on the street to welcome this young pair to their part of the neighborhood. They brought gifts such as bathroom lotions, baked goods, and those fruits cut into shapes of flowers. Angel and Popcorn even befriended a couple of the pets that came along to welcome them. There was Grumpy the Pendersons’ bulldog, Marmaduke and Scooby, the Henson’s twin Great Danes, and even Goliath, Miss Pennyapple’s tiny chihuahua. Even a couple of alley cats roamed the area, one of them everyone nicknamed Scarface due to his missing eye from what could’ve been a previous catfight. Scarface was reluctant, but eventually, he was won over.

James and Sarah had a pleasant time living together once they’d settled everything and the house was set up the way they liked. They enjoyed events such as barbecues with the neighbors, spending a summer’s day at the beach, and many other activities. Over time, the young pair grew closer with each other as their friendship developed into something even more. First came their love once James dared to propose, which Sarah happily accepted. Then came their small wedding. Lastly came Scarlette in the baby carriage. Her skin color was a mix of her parents, but she fully inherited Sarah’s blonde curls. The child was an instant favorite in the small family. James and Sarah did almost everything they could to please their daughter with whatever she wanted most. Angel and Popcorn took full nanny positions, such as howling a lullaby whenever Scarlette had trouble sleeping. I assume by now you’re either hoping they’re fully a happy family or expecting something to take a turn for the worst.

Well, you’d be somewhat correct, because there came that one wild stormy night in late October. They were all gathered in the kitchen, celebrating Scarlette’s birthday. The seven-year-old smiled brightly at her cake decorated with the face of Princess Ariel (she had quite a fascination with mermaids). James sat beside her with a smile, and Sarah took a couple of peanut butter biscuits out of the oven that were suitable for both human and dog alike. Angel and Popcorn couldn’t help their habit of sitting next to the table, staring intently as they waited for something to snack on.

“You know, mommy? Daddy? This is my very best birthday.”

“And plenty more to come soon enough, sweetie.” James agreed.

“Can my friends come next time?” Due to a virus going around, Scarlette couldn’t have all her friends over like she wanted to. It was mostly to be on the safe side, even if they did wear masks.

“We’ll have to wait and see, honey.” Sarah set down the tray of cookies, smiling as she offered the Dalmatian and Pomeranian each a biscuit to scarf down. The family went on like they usually did with a cake slice each. Scarlette enjoyed each gift from her parents, along with some that her friends managed to deliver beforehand. James didn’t notice at first due to giving his daughter undivided attention, but he slowly took in the interest of Angel. She had grown quiet, stiff, and kept staring at the front door down the hallway. What had caught her attention anyways? He wondered.  It was pouring out; not a night anyone would want to be outside for. A low growl sounded… that was Angel’s growl, one James recalled a long time ago. Soon all their attention was gathered as Popcorn jolted to his feet, perked up his ears, and began barking like mad.

“… do you think Scarface invited himself over?” Sarah asked, trying to lighten the sudden situation. That attempt sadly ever worked for very long. The front door’s knob began to jiggle weakly, then rattled madly. Knocks like gunshots struck from the other side. James quickly pulled his wife and daughter close as the dogs stood guard, growling and barking at whoever was trying hard to intrude.

“Mommy, daddy! Who is that!?” Scarlette was beyond terrified.

“I can’t say for sure. Quick, Sarah! Get Scarlette upstairs, and don’t come down till I tell you!”

She didn’t want to leave him, but gathered Scarlette in her arms, heading for the master bedroom, Popcorn hot on her heels while Angel stuck by her master’s side as she’d always done. James dug through their closet for the gun he kept just in case and cocked it, ready to give off fire if he had to.

“Steady, old girl… steady… get ready.”

The door eventually was forced open from the other side, a figure staggering its way inside in pain. She looked older, yet James recognized her.

“Mama…? Jesus, mama, you gave us such a scare.”

Hazel only groaned in protest, reaching her arms towards her son. Tears leaked down her bruised face.

“What’s… what’s wrong, mama?”

James only got her sigh as an answer as she collapsed to the floor, a knife stuck in her spine, soaked in her blood. Another figure stumbled through the doorway, whom James also realized as … but that couldn’t be.  But there was Teddy, clear as day. He could only give off grunts and groans due to his missing tongue. James, growing horrified, began backing away, still holding the gun at this point. Angel growled loudly in warning, ready to attack Teddy if she had to. The disarranged man was moving closer and closer, then received a fiery pain in his hand. James fired a warning shot as they locked eyes with each other.

“Dad… don’t do this… you’ve got a granddaughter upstairs… you don’t want to be doing this.”

Teddy seemingly pondered, remaining quiet before rushing out the door. James felt the urge to follow him, with Angel right behind him; he sadly had to pass his deceased mother. Rain darted downward onto the men, thunder and lightning making their cameos here and there. James tackled his father, the two of them fighting with fists, the gun having been dropped. Angel barked from the sideline, encouraging her master to fight on. Finally, the younger man had the other pinned down, preparing the final blow, and he somehow couldn’t do it. Teddy was giving off a sense of sadness in his eyes, as if regretting everything he had ever said and done to his family. Hazel was already gone. Would he do the same to James?

A car horn sounded, then a screech of tires. James hardly had time to react as time slowed down, and Teddy shoved him. Next came a blur of black and white.

His head was swimming painfully, pounding hard against his skull. James sat up as best he could, gripping his head. He felt dizzy, almost sick, and light-headed. He eventually opened his eyes to the rain falling, but extremely slowly…? He took one hand to catch a few drops, watching as his limb gave off trails as it moved. The rain seemed to fade through his grasp as if he couldn’t quite touch it. He looked to his left, seeing his former father’s body sprawled out on the pavement. Despite all that he did, he wished him to finally find peace and happiness… but that blur of…

He turned to his right to meet a dreadful sight; Angel, his beloved Dalmatian-the comfort he had growing up-was also displayed deadly still. He moved his best towards her, choking on sobs as he attempted to hold her close one more time.

“No… no, no, no, Angel. Angel! Come on, old girl, please… please, you can’t leave me like this! Come back to me…” he buried his face in her fur, letting out all his emotion. She didn’t deserve this. She in no way deserved dying like this! If only there was some way-


That voice was one he never heard once in his life, but somehow, he felt he always knew it for so long.  He spun around at the sight of her. She glowed brightly, giving off a warm smile and giant feathered wings fluttered from her back.

“… angel…” The younger man crawled his way towards his beloved pet, embracing her as she embraced back with her head. James laughed sadly as the Dalmatian gave him gentle licks, just as she did many times before.

“… it won’t be too long now. Hopefully, he’s learned from all his mistakes this time…”

James looked puzzled; Angel acted as if this wasn’t the first time Teddy had- but how was that possible?

“Tell me, James… do you recall those interactions with all the animals you came across as a child?”

“That time at the petting zoo or that playground he loved spending time at?” He nodded in answer.

“And those insects you didn’t have to treat kindly but did regardless?”

James nodded again.

“Well… there’s a high chance some of them could’ve been me in a previous life or two.”

“You…?” He couldn’t believe what he heard, “some of those creatures were you…?”

Angel smiled, “It wasn’t just me looking for a new life to move onto; most others have as well. If we chose life to be one’s pet, as I have been, we’d focus closely on a human to be our potential companion. But sometimes it can turn out to be a mistake.”

James could understand that pretty well… “Was dad…?”

“He was mostly human in his past lives… none of them turned out for the greater good, unfortunately.” Angel frowned, “This one, however… He had started so well but felt he was faltering, hence why he must’ve brought me to you.”

It seemed to make some sort of sense now. Teddy knew he’d fall down a bad path again. He had gotten Angel for James, not just as a gift, but to keep him protected from his parents. And Hazel… well, maybe Teddy did away with her so she could finally be at peace.

He gazed down as his hands, still leaving trails as they moved. “Does this mean… am I…?”

“Only one way to find out.” Angel gathered up the leash around her neck in her mouth. It glowed a white light. “Hold on tight.”

James slowly took grasp of the lead, and it felt cold to the touch. The mist began to gather around them, evolving into a stairway for them to climb. Angel headed up first, tugging James after her. He was a little surprised to find the cloudy pathway was solid, like in that Mary Poppins film. He kept his eye on Angel, trying not to look down and doing his best to take the spots she somehow knew where to step. She’d look back a few times to make sure he was doing alright to keep up. He’d nod to reassure her, she’d nod in return, and they’d continue on their way. James eventually had to take a look downward, seeing how high they were; houses and cars the same size as those miniature landscapes people sometimes collected, people looking more like ants and lights like that of fireflies. The cloud they were heading towards had a yellow glow from behind, indicating what its location was… Angel stepped onto it first. James came up behind her, only to slip through the cloud having the leash to hold onto. Angel looked over the edge at him in concern. James tried to climb his way back up but felt a hard shock to his chest, causing him to slip more. This kept repeating itself.

“An-Angel! Help! Help me, old girl!”

The dalmatian pondered a moment, using her teeth to yank him up the closest she could get to face him. James sighed in relief, ready to pull himself up but facing Angel now, he saw sadness yet happiness within her icy blue gaze.

“Remember that I’ve always loved you.”

He didn’t have time to react as she snapped the leash out from his grasp, causing him to fall slowly. He stared after her, tears in the eyes. Angel only smiled over the edge as clouds crossed her path, blocking her from view for the last time. James struggled to grasp at nothingness. Seeing how the pavement below was rising faster to meet him, he braced himself, ready for a bone-crushing landing. Instead, felt himself sinking into the ground softly like he was tucked in for the night…

James jumped awake, finding himself in the hospital surrounded by blinding white walls. The sounds of doctors/nurses, the beep from his monitor, and the murmurs of the doctor with his wife and daughter filled his ears. His soft groans caught their attention, Scarlette crying out apologies, and Sarah assuring him he was safe and okay. James smiled weakly, brushing the locks of his little girl’s hair, and gazed at his beloved, silently asking.

“Angel? Dad? I’m so sorry.”

He sighed, laying back on his pillow, feeling sleepy from the medication pumping into his veins. The voices and noises faded slowly away as he drifted into a heavy sleep.

Wherever she was now, whatever form she decided to take or had taken by now, all that mattered to James was that she was happy being someone else’s angel, just like she had been his.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Carly H.
Edited by N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Carly H.

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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