Highly Commended Story - Junior Category
“When Time Runs Out” by Aurelia Xiuli Lye-Cull, St Joseph’s Institution International Elementary School, Singapore, is the Highly Commended story in the junior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2018.
Aurelia Lye-Cull, studying at SJI International School in Singapore, is originally come from Australia and moved to Singapore when she was six years old. She started reading and writing at an younger age. Her favourite authors are Enid Blyton, Louisa May Alcott, and Jeanne Birdsall, and her favourite book series is the Penderwicks. Her other hobbies include travelling, caring for animals, movies, and listening to music. She likes using her surroundings and stories she read as inspiration for the stories that she writes.
When Time Runs Out
I used to hold her by the fire, cuddled up in my lap. I would stroke her and whisper to her, and she would gaze back up at me with those adoring brown eyes of hers. As an only child whose parents were constantly working, my puppy Cookie was my only beloved company.
I remember that night like it was last night, when I was chatting and laughing over dinner with my parents. Cookie sat in a basket at the side, with a hearty helping of dog food in her bowl. It was just like any other joyful night…until I heard the unmistakable sound of Cookie whimpering. My parents and I were instantly at her side, stroking her and feeding her some more scraps. She gazed up at me, her eyes sadder than ever, and continued to whimper in pain.
The rest of the night was a blur. I remember arguing with my parents, insisting that I accompany my best friend to the vet. They argued back, telling me that I was too young. I felt helpless like there was not a thing I could do. I remember hugging Cookie, whispering farewell to her and waving furiously through the window as the car drove out of the driveway.
Hours were spent waiting. I sat by the front porch, tears tracing my cheeks, waiting for the news. Thoughts raced through my mind, angry voices yelling at me that I did not take care of her. How could I have been such a bad owner? After what seemed like forever, the phone rang. I raced for it, hoping I had another chance. I prayed desperately to all the gods I could think of, took a deep breath, and pressed the green button.
However, the call only confirmed my greatest fears. My parents were tossing comments like “She’s happy now, no longer suffering” and “She’s happy in heaven, Sophie. And one day, you will also be reunited with her in heaven.” That did not help. They simply did not understand, how were they supposed to know that Cookie was my best friend, and like a family member to me? They spent almost all their time at work, so who was I to hang out with after school? I also felt like, no matter what they said, I would never be able to replace Cookie. It would be cruel, like forgetting about her and I could never bring myself to do such a thing. I wept and wept, the tears flowing endlessly and unable to stop.
Now that I think about it, Cookie was fourteen years old. She died of heart disease that night, very common amongst dogs. And even though I can no longer talk to her in person, I still write notes to her and tie it to helium balloons, releasing it so that it shall drift through the sky, up higher and higher until lost among the clouds of heaven for Cookie to find. Her time ran out that night, and my time is still ticking. Yours is, too. But one day our time shall come to an end, and we shall learn to cherish life until then. And I, for one, certainly shall, making the most out of my valuable life until time runs out.