Chapter 17Mature

The skatepark and local park would likely be empty this early in the morning, meaning little reason for him to hide if he went to either spot. Although without others around for him to observe, he would have nothing to do except run around and tire himself out. The idea was still as pleasing as before, but it was then that he started to feel a bit lonely. Having to hide from anyone he saw now felt alienating compared to the encounter with his folks last night, as wrenching as that had been.

Taking his backpack in his paw again, Alex tried to slip it on. His broadened shoulders and muscles made sure that wasn’t happening until he managed to get some slack on the straps. With the pack slung over both shoulders, he started his trek towards the local park again. Keeping his nose up and watching for any standout scents, he felt a twinge of worry whenever the wind blew from behind him. While watching for any cars coming his direction, he had to duck behind a nearby holly bush to avoid one with the high beams on.

As he continued, the rhythm of walking on four legs started to come back to him. At least one leg was up and moving at all times, going from left to right, back to front, in a loop. His spine and chest tried to stay level as he went, his arms sometimes having difficulty keeping him that way.

Reaching the corner of his street, he checked for any more cars then crossed when he saw, and heard, none coming. The creek wasn’t far, and with it a straight shot as far south as he wanted to go. The same scents of water plants and mildew hit him as he went down into the creek, but he was glad to be able to walk on two legs again.

Upon reaching the park, the lights around the pathways, and the night vision in his eyes, proved the park was empty. “Nice. The whole park to myself.” Setting his sights on one of the massive oak trees near one of the darker sides of the park, Alex dropped back to all fours, intent on trying to run in that stance again.

Pushing off with his back legs, his arms flew forwards and impacted on the grass, his pads keeping the cold of the blades from distracting him too much. Feeling his chest and spine curve to help bring his legs forward, Alex stalled on taking another stride until both of his feet hit the ground. It broke the momentum of the run, slowing his next push forward. The second time was the same, as was the third, making him fall back to walking that way instead.

The End

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