It was snowing when he finally found the bookstore. The little town was quiet and the shop was the only thing open.
The man walked through the door, jingling the little bell.
An old woman appeared from the back room, “Can I help you?”
“Yes,” he said, “My friend told me about a cave in the woods outside town. He said you could help me.”
The old woman smiled, “Oh I know exactly what you mean.” She closed the curtains and locked the door.
“I…I have money,” he said.
“Oh money won’t do any good here,” she said, pulling out a small golden blade and an ancient looking hourglass.
“How long do you want to bring her back for?”
“What’s the longest I can do?”
“Ten years. That’s the maximum.”
She pricked his finger with the blade and he watched her drip ten drops of his blood onto the top of the hourglass.
He immediately felt strange.
He doubled over, breathing heavy, and sweating. He thought he was having a heart attack.
Finally, he stood up feeling somewhat better.
“I feel funny,” he said.
“Well, you are ten years older,” she said, “have a look,” and pointed to the mirror.
She was right. There was grey in his hair now, and wrinkles around his eyes. His face more rugged and weathered than it was moments ago.
“Are you ready?” the old woman asked.
She drew him a map.
“Do you have a flashlight? It’s terribly dark out.”
“Maybe you should wait. The snow’s getting thicker.”
But the man declined. He couldn’t wait another second.
He trudged off into the snow following the map.
The cave was nearly an hour outside town. He thought he got lost twice but he finally found the entrance sometime around midnight.
He felt his way into the small crevice in the side of the mountain. There was a ring of rocks and chunks of unburnt firewood. He obviously wasn’t the first person here.
He got the fire going and waited.
He had no idea how long it was supposed to take.
Until finally he heard it.
He heard her coming.
He ran to the front of the cave and while staring out into the dark forest the sounds of a dog barking could be heard.
Finally she appeared out of the trees. Just like how she was.
He cried with joy, hugging the giant dog.
She barked and they played in the snow until they were both too cold and they retreated to the cave.
They slept curled up in the cave until morning where they left when the sun rose.
He walked smiling for the first time in so long now that he finally had his best friend back.