I am at a stage in my life where the internet is my only source of life advice. After the divorce, then the breakdown, I have very few friends left. No one in fact. My therapist was no use to me, a newly trained child with no time to do anything but read from a textbook. I feel like an alien, able to observe humans at a distance but never able to connect with them. So I find myself endlessly typing questions into Google. How do I improve my life? How do I make friends? How do I stop crying at random times?
One of the articles is simple. It says THE ONE TRICK TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFE is to do a good deed for another person, every day. With nothing left to lose, I think, why not? So I leave my house for the first time in months. The light is blinding, but I steady my feet and walk to the town. I’m looking for a good deed to do. I want to do someone a favour. Everyone looks so content and perfectly happy. I don’t want to ask anyone, that would be weird. So I walk around, hoping.
I’m about to give up when I see her: a little old lady and her dog waiting on one side of the side to cross. The old lady is peering at the red figure trying to figure out whether to cross. I quickly walk up to her.
‘Need a hand? I’ll see you across’ I say. I take her arm before she can object. She mumbles something incomprehensible at me.
The light turns green and I walk across the road, dragging the small woman behind me. I’m doing it, I think., I’m doing a good deed. A little part of my soul that has been shrouded in darkness until now lights up, just a little bit. The old lady is pulling at my arm and seems to be heaving back, but I don’t care. I’m doing good.
I get to the other side and let go of her arm. ‘There you go love.’ I say. I almost manage a smile before she hits me with her handbag. The pain explodes in my arm. What has she got in there, bricks?
‘Bloody idiot! What have you done?’
Another whack on my other arm. She’s stronger than she looks. Then she starts shouting at the top of her voice.
‘Ginger! GINGER!’ For a moment I’m confused. I have brown hair, not orange. Then I see the dog, sat on the other side of the road with a stupid expression on it’s face. It sits there for a moment, wondering where the noise is coming from. Then it picks itself up and trots slowly into the road.
Only by now the light has changed to red. The old woman screams as Ginger gets hit by the wheels of a car.
The car doesn’t even stop. All I can hear is her screaming. I run out into the road, holding my hand out to stop the cars coming past. I can see it’s too late. Poor little Ginger’s body is broken in several places. I scoop it up in my arms as best I can and head back to the old woman, cradling the body of her dog. She just looks at me and wails. People are turning to look at us now.
‘I’m so so sorry.’
‘What have you done?’
‘If there is anything I can do, anything, I’ll do it.’
She quietens a little bit. It’s almost worse. She’s just looking at the body. It’s heavy and damp in my arms. It’s a long time before she is able to say anything.
‘Bring him home for me, will you?’ She finally says. I nod. Of course, I have to.
We move slowly through the streets, a bizarre funeral procession with her leading in front and me carrying the body behind her. People turn and look. I try to hide away, but there’s no hiding from their disappointed eyes.
It’s dusk by the time we reach her house, a small terraced house on the edge of town. I wait on the edge of her property as she opens her gate, then fiddles with a large chain of keys. she opens the door and turns to me.
‘Can you bring him in?’
I nod again and cross the threshold. She closes the door behind me.
It’s pitch black in her house. I can’t see a thing. There’s no reference point. I hear her hobbling off down a corridor. I’m left in the darkness. My eyes try to struggle on any point of light, but htere isn’t any.
‘You can put Ginger down now.’ She says, her voice coming from somewhere distant. The house seemed so much bigger than it looked from the outside. I took a couple of steps forward, not wanting to just dump the body by the door. There was the faintest sliver of light, enough to see my arms and body but that was about it. I knelt down and placed Ginger down on the ground.
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