Charlie’s New Home

By Isabella Chua

Isabella is a creative writing student at Griffith University. She shares her latest story about Charlie the puppy.

‘Mum, do I really have to go?’ Charlie asked his mother at breakfast.

‘I’m afraid so, dear,’ Bella replied softly.

Charlie swallowed his remaining cereal thoughtfully before answering. ‘Why couldn’t I stay here with you?’

‘Because you’re becoming a big boy now. And besides, this house isn’t big enough for seven little ones.’

At the mention of his brothers and sisters, Charlie’s face drooped. Ever since all six of his siblings left for their new homes, he had never felt more alone. Despite having his mother and Beatrice for company, it didn’t seem much fun without having someone else his age to play with.

Bella gave him a reassuring nudge. ‘It’s going to be okay, Charlie,’ she murmured. ‘I know that Cooper will take very good care of you.’

‘But what about you, Mum? Won’t you be lonely?’

‘Beatrice will be around for me. She always is.’

Charlie nodded. He knew that his mother’s caretaker, Beatrice, had always been good to her. For as long as Charlie could remember, she had always been good to him and his siblings as well. In fact, Beatrice was so good, that she herself had chosen the best caretakers for all of the youngsters, including Charlie.

Charlie had only met his own caretaker once, about a few weeks ago. Cooper was an extremely jovial person, who smelt very similar to the garden mulch Charlie enjoyed rolling in at the local park. Although he really liked Cooper, Charlie still had some reservations about staying with him. He wasn’t sure if Cooper’s place was as nice and cosy as Beatrice’s, or if Cooper was able to provide him with necessities other than friendly smiles and chipper words.

Voices down the corridor broke Charlie out of his thoughts. A few seconds later, Beatrice entered the room, accompanied by a very tall, young man. Charlie recognised his earthy scent immediately.

It was Cooper.

In that tiny living room, two pairs of eyes regarded each other. One pair saw a lanky-looking guy, with shaggy red hair framing a freckled face. The other pair saw a brown, button-nosed lad who was scruffy all over. Grinning, Cooper extended his hand and ruffled Charlie’s head. For a brief moment, Charlie forgot his doubts and eagerly accepted his new caretaker’s gesture of affection. ‘Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed today, huh?’ remarked Cooper.

‘He sure does look like it,’ came Beatrice’s reply. Joining Cooper, she fondly tickled Charlie’s chin. A final parting gesture.

Cooper glanced at his watch. ‘Well, time to go,’ he said. At that instant, Bella sauntered over to her son with a sombre smile, and planted a wet kiss on his forehead. ‘Goodbye, sweetie. Be good to your new caretaker.’

Before Charlie could speak, Cooper gingerly scooped him into his arms and started to head out towards the door. Peeking over Cooper’s shoulder, Charlie glimpsed at his mother and Beatrice for what was seemingly the very last time.

‘Goodbye,’ he whispered.

Inside a large-wheeled vehicle, Charlie shook himself awake from his short-lived slumber. He saw a colossal, brownstone house, teeming with cobwebs and ivy. Its monstrous presence sent shivers down his spine. Nestling a trembling Charlie in his arms, Cooper exited the car and stepped onto the porch. Without a moment’s hesitation, Cooper pushed open the heavy door and gently settled Charlie down onto the cold tiles.

Cowering, Charlie lifted his face, expecting the worse to unfold. Before he even realised it, his eyes widened and his jaw dropped at the sight. The place resembled nothing like the scary exterior as he initially thought, but it wasn’t like Beatrice’s place either. In fact, Cooper’s place was an entirely different world altogether!

Instead of being tiny with shades of beige, the house’s interior was big and colourful. It was as if a rainbow exploded inside the house, dousing each and every piece of furniture and whatnot with a separate yet still vibrant hue.

Just then, a high-pitched whistle brought Charlie to his attention. Cooper was holding up a small rubber ball in his palm; a proposal for a game of catch. For a short while, Charlie and Cooper took turns tossing the ball back and forth with each other around the house, relishing in the fun and happiness, before retiring into the dining room, where two platters of mixed rice-and-corned beef awaited them.

As he cautiously chowed down a morsel of that unusual food, Charlie discovered that it had a savoury flavour, almost like the crunchy, salty cereal Beatrice fed him that morning. Cooper looked on as the young lad enthusiastically wolfed down the rest of the meal (‘Quite delicious,’ Charlie mused), shaking his head and chuckling in amusement.

With his belly now full, a wave of drowsiness washed over Charlie. Smiling fondly at the yawning youngster, Cooper held his arms out and tenderly cradled Charlie close to his chest, and began to make his way into the living room. Near the couch, Cooper had set up a small cot befitting Charlie’s size, complete with a woollen blanket and cotton pillows. Charlie snuggled comfortably onto his new bed as he allowed Cooper to tuck him in; his mind wandering back to memories of his mother, Beatrice, and his siblings.

Even though he still missed them, Charlie realised that he was starting to feel quite at home in Cooper’s house. This new place isn’t so bad after all, he thought. Especially for a little canine like me. And for the second time in a very long day, Charlie drifted off to sleep. As he felt his tail to curl up against his nose, Charlie thought about the new day that awaited him, and he hoped it would be just as good.