He lay in the middle of the road, shivering from the intense cold. Darius slows the car down to a stroll. Serena opens the door — tightens the feel of her winter coat around her, and rushes to scoop up the precious thing into her arms.
It is a cold, late autumn night. She and Darius had just left a charity event thrown by her company — a non-profit organization built on the premise of revitalizing their city and finding homes for stray dogs and cats. What were the chances they would land upon a chocolate Cocker Spaniel/Labrador mix in the middle of the road on their drive back home?
She looks into its eyes and rolls it over onto its back, staring past its belly to check its gender — male. She whispers to the drenched ball of fur, “Fate. I think we’ll call you, ‘Fate.’”
She runs toward their car, pulls the door open, and quickly slides onto the heated seat. Darius is thumping his ashy thumbs on the steering wheel. He stares at her intently and says, “Who could leave such a sweet baby to fend for itself out here in all this?!” His hands flail dramatically in front of him.
“I named him ‘Fate.’ I think he will be a great addition to our family, Darius. Sebastian and Nora will fall in love with him. They truly will!”
Darius and Serena had a two-year-old Goldendoodle and a four-year-old Maine Coon cat at home. Both were rescues. Sebastian, the Goldendoodle, had been found in a ditch three miles away from their home on a sunny July morning. Nora, the Maine Coon, had been seen running feverishly out of a burning shed one mile away from their church.
Their home had been a quiet, welcoming spot for both animals. And now, it will be one for Fate, too.
As they pull into the driveway, Serena towel-dries Fate with one of the heavy towels the couple keeps in their car as part of their “emergency kit.” The little thing moves gingerly in her care as if to signal he understands what is going on. She scoops him up and places a gentle kiss on his snout.
Inside their home, Sebastian sits with Nora in their living room — his fluffy bottom faces the fireplace. Nora nestles alongside his chest — sleeping to the sound of his heartbeat.
Serena tiptoes to their kitchen — pulls out a favorite brand of puppy dog food, and sprinkles one scoop into Fate’s bowl. Next to this hearty meal, she fills another bowl with fresh water. She places Fate on the floor and watches his reaction.
The puppy lunges toward the bowl housing the food — hungry for a meal he hadn’t had in days. He swallows hurriedly, breathing in small pants between each bite. He shuffles his furry little body over to the water and sips until his belly pokes out.
Serena’s eyes fill with tears. One slips away and slides down her cold face. Darius stands at the kitchen entrance and gazes upon his wife and their new baby as they bond.
Who’s feeding whom? Who saved who?
As time passes, Fate grows along with Sebastian and Nora. The three of them fill Darius and Serena’s hearts with so much love. The couple watches their three fur babies interact with each other daily. The connection can only be described as “kismet,” — they were meant to be.
And with Fate’s name literally tying the family closer, Serena knows it is time to announce their newest addition. She turns to Darius as he watches the threesome plop around playfully in their backyard, leans closer to him, and nudges his chin. A glimmer in her eyes appears when she says, “Babe, I’m pregnant.”
The news floors Darius. It overcomes him with joy. They had tried for years to conceive and now … they could breathe easier. As the two of them zoom in on their small family, they envision it becoming bigger.
The work they do — the families they connect with when finding the best homes for stray dogs and cats invigorates them.
How will they continue their cause with a baby in tow?
They can and they will.
Someone has to fight the brutal fight of maintaining beauty and comfort in their thriving neighborhood. Someone has to feed the babies of the world — both humans and animals. Someone has to clear the streets of garbage, lost sneakers, and cigarette butts.
Fate brought more to Serena and Darius than just peace — he brought love — deep, everlasting love.
And now, on a chilly night in late November, not only have their hearts bloomed with indescribable joy, they are fed in full.
©2022 & 2023 Tremaine L. Loadholt
This is a slightly edited version of a piece written for Hinged.press’ (formerly, The Weekly Knob) annual participation in “Thankmas”. Thank you for reading.