Directions: Write a short story of 750 words or fewer based on this prompt: A man who lives alone sees a set of footprints leading away from his house the morning after a heavy snowfall.
As the sun peeked over the horizon, the old farmer stirred from his bed to take in the glinting sight he favored so much during the winter months. He loved looking at the soft, smooth blanket of snow that covered the ground after each night’s snowfall. The farmer lived alone so he was able to practice this ritual every morning without interruption or change … until the footprints first appeared.
One morning, the farmer came out expecting to see the undisturbed snow covering the ground, but instead he found a set of footprints leading away from his house. He looked around wondering how the footprints got there. He knew they weren’t his; he didn’t go anywhere. He glanced over at the pens, the pigs sloshing in the muddy snow. He squinted in the direction of the chicken coop, a chorus of clucking muffled by its enclosure. He looked up at the barn, his dog and horse looking back at him. He soon dismissed the strangeness of the situation and returned to his normal duties.
After the day ended, the snow fell again like clockwork. In the morning, the farmer awoke and went outside to see the footprints had reappeared. He looked around in trying to figure out how this is happening. The pigs sloshed; the chickens clucked; and the dog and horse simply stared. Again, the farmer shrugged off the occurrence and went about his day.
When the next morning arrived, the old farmer was bewildered to find fresh footprints once again.
For two weeks, the cycle continued: the farmer would come outside in the morning, see the footprints, scratch his head, look up at the dog and the horse staring at him blankly, look back at the footprints, and then walk back inside. He had to think he was going crazy by now.
One morning, as the dog and horse looked on as they always did, the man became agitated at the footprints. “Why is this happening? Who is doing this?” he yelled out.
After the old farmer stomped back inside, the horse turned to the dog and asked, “So tell me, why are you doing this to the farmer?”
The dog looked up at the horse with a big grin. “It’s payback,” he said, nodding slowly as he said it.
“Payback? For what?”
“C’mon now,” the dog began. “Who in the world names their dog Bingo? I mean, do you know how humiliating that is?”
The horse tried to stifle a neighful laugh.
“And then there’s that song!” continued Bingo. “I hate that stupid song … B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O. It’s embarrassing!”
Then barn echoed with neighing laughter as Bingo rested his head on his paws waiting for the horse to finish his laughing fit.
“I’m sorry, Bingo,” said the horse. “I shouldn’t be laughing at your misfortune.”
“No, you shouldn’t. At least you have a regular name … a normal name.”
“What? Ed?” the horse said.
“Yeah, Ed. That’s a normal name … a good name. People even respect you enough to call you Mister!”
Ed dipped his head and neck as if to shrug. “Just for the record, that was never my idea.”
“I know. I know,” said Bingo, sulking. “At least you have a TV show.”
“Had a TV show,” said Ed, emphasizing the ‘had’. “You have a song,” he added, holding back a toothy grin.
“Don’t remind me.”
“With clapping and everything.” Ed let the grin have its way.
Bingo gave him a sidelong glance, surprising for a dog. He let his silence speak for him.
“So,” chimed Ed, interrupting the glance, “I never saw how you did it … the footprints. You’re not in the barn during the night.”
Bingo’s glanced disappeared and in its place gloated a proud look. “Oh, that was easy. Before the snow falls, I go and wait on the porch. Right before the sun comes up, I put his boots on my hind legs and walk out away from the house.”
“Don’t your front legs make separate tracks?” asked Ed.
The prideful looked got brighter. “Not if I step on them with the boots, therefore covering them up.”
“Quite clever, my canine friend.”
Bingo flaunted a full-on, proud smile.
“And that’s why you have your own song,” jeered Ed.
Bingo’s smile disappeared. “Shut up, Ed.”
“That’s … Mister Ed to you, B-I-N-G-O.”