After the bus incident, Franklin was hard pressed to find a way to get to school other than walking. He didn’t mind it; it was not a terribly long gallop to school for him, and he enjoyed the freedom with which galloping around town gave him. Sometimes, on his way back, he would take a long way home and gallop through a large field, park, or trail. He loved the freedom of just being. Once, though, he got carried away and accidentally galloped through the backyard of a three time award winning Great American Gardener, subsequently killing any chance of making him a four time award winning Great American Gardener.
Due to Franklin’s large size and weight, he had been banned from all forms of public transportation approximately eight years ago. He walked to and from class every day; not a far walk for a being of his size. When it was cold, he would put on gloves, ear muffs, and a scarf at his mother’s request, his thick fur keeping his bottom half amply warm, and his upper half sporting a sweater that was too big, but fit his muscular and large frame. On his way back to his apartment, he would walk with Lola, the girl he had met while trying to take a dance class. The instructor had to kick him out of the class two weeks in due to the way his horse-shoes tore up the wooden floors and gave every dance the continual feel of a tap dance. Lola, though, wanted to help him learn what he could. Volunteering her time when possible, Lola and Franklin danced together.
“Slower, slower, Franklin,” she would tell him. “There’s no need to go any faster. Just learn your footing.” He was clumsy, but he tried his best. At times, he would just pick her up and hold her close as he trotted around for a minute or two, making her laugh and throw her head back. Her silky brown hair would brush against his, blending in with his long hair if only for a moment or two, and her green eyes would shine in the light if it caught it just right.
He loved the way she laughed, too. It made him feel like he had a small purpose, and when her hands would cup themselves on his shoulders, he felt a little happier. Warmer.
They danced and laughed, and Franklin fumbled over his four hooves, clanking upon the wooden floor of the studio they had snuck into. He had remembered how his mother had once tried to get him to wear “booties,” which were essentially hospital shoe coverings, and he tried to implement them again in the dance studio, but to no avail. Nonetheless, Franklin had become determined to learn the dance to a song he couldn’t pronounce, but eventually, Lola made them stop.
It was oddly warm out for early-November. Franklin waited for her to grab her stuff and put her coat on so that he could walk her home.
“Well, I guess I expected it to be cold out,” she laughed. “It’s like, warm, and foggy, and the sky is … light.”
“You’re weird, you know that?” he teased. They both laughed, his booming voice with a “shaddup, will ya!” from some second story window in a nearby apartment complex. The street was littered with garbage, fog covering the smaller pieces on the ground, but the crunch underneath Franklin’s hooves was very evident in the quiet of the night. Lola hummed a song and held his arm as they walked down the street, and everything was perfect. He dropped her off at her door to give her a hug, and turned around, as there was no way for him to get into the entryway of the apartment complex.
She closed the door with a sweet, “Good night,” but Franklin had noticed that the door hadn’t closed all the way, and in an attempt to close it, he ended up kicking a small hole through the bottom, too.