Edition 23: A Girl and Her Dog by Sarah Fallon
Cassie wakes up to find a puppy in place of her partner. This relationship just goes to show that not everything is better with a dog. A bit of strange fiction focusing on what can’t always be fixed. SY
When Cassie woke, she smiled at me in a way she hadn’t in a very long time.
“Hello,” she said in a condescending baby voice.
Even worse, she pulled me onto her lap and scratched me under the chin. I felt the full sensation of my form. My body was much smaller than it had been the night before and her hands running up and down my back let me know I was also much hairier. I looked down. I had paws, tiny yellow paws. I tried to look behind me, it was harder than expected and I ended up running in circles on the bed until I heard Cassie laughing. I had a tail, a tail that wagged when she looked so happy. It was strange, and I didn’t know why, but it appeared that I had turned into a dog
“Rob. Rob!” She got out of bed and started looking for me. She came back shaking her head, “Where’s he gone?” She picked me up and took me downstairs.
“What are we going to feed you?” she said rummaging through the fridge, “He never thinks of these things.”
I was offended. I did think of those things and I said so.
She jumped back, staring down at me. “What?” she said through her hands, clamped over her mouth.
“I do think of these things and you’ve left the fridge open which you always bang on at me about.”
“Jesus fucking hell fuck.”
“Do you have to swear?”
Her hands dropped and she looked at me in a more familiar fashion, “Do you have to be such a fucking goody-goody?” she said.
I sat down and shook my head; things were already back to normal. Something in my behaviour must have struck her because she knelt down for a closer look. She lifted up my floppy ears and each of my four paws. When she got to my tail I jerked away.
“Do you mind?” I asked.
She laughed, getting to her feet. “Sorry.”
“It’s OK,” I said. “It’s been a strange morning.”
“I’ll bet.” She shut the fridge. “Have you even seen yourself?”
She took me to the bathroom mirror and held me up in front of it. I was a small, very small, Golden Retriever. I still had my blue eyes though. I decided, if I had to be a dog, this would be fine.
Cassie seemed to like it; she had absentmindedly begun patting me again. I barked in approval.
Cassie laughed, “You look like a dog barking at its reflection.”
“I am,” I said and we both laughed, only mine was more barking.
After a while Cassie grimaced and put me on the floor. “God that’s ear piercing,” she said.
It was a sunny day outside so Cassie said we should go for a walk.
“I’ll just go next door for a sec,” she said. When she came back she was holding a blue collar—she always tried to make me wear blue—and a simple rope lead.
“What do we need those for?” I said, backing away.
“For your walk.”
I continued to evade her but then she trapped me in a corner.
“It’s the law, Rob.”
“I’m not going to run away or attack anyone. I’m a person. This is ridiculous.”
“We can’t afford a fine.” She quickly and effectively looped the collar around my neck and fastened it tightly. The lead was already attached.
Once we were out on the street I got used to it, or at least the fresh air and all the good smells made up for the incarceration.
We came to a lamppost with a large tuft of uncut grass. It had a wonderful stink, layer upon layer of other dogs. I sniffed all around, getting my face deep in the grass, and then I sidled up beside it and cocked a leg.
“Are you serious?” said Cassie.
“I haven’t peed all morning,” I said.
She was still looking, “Cass. You gonna’ watch?”
Blushing slightly, she turned away.
The next day Cassie had to work. She was about to leave when I realised I would be locked inside all day. I cut her off at the door, running circles around her feet and jumping up at her legs.
“Stop it,” she said, “You’ll tear my tights.”
“Jesus, Rob, I’m late already.”
I didn’t think it was such a ridiculous ask considering the circumstances but she wouldn’t cave. She agreed to put out some water and dog biscuits she got from next door, which tasted like salty cardboard. She was hesitant about leaving the sliding door open until I pointed out a dog couldn’t use the toilet. She did all these things moaning and groaning, making me feel like much more of a burden than I really thought I was.
That night, Marcus, one of Cassie’s friends, stopped by for a drink; he’d had a bad day at work. Cassie made up some story about me being on a work trip and how we’d bought a new dog.
“But I thought you guys were having trouble,” Marcus said.
My ears perked from where I lay on Cassie’s lap. She stopped stroking me and her whole body went rigid.
“We’re making it work,” she said tightly.
“Ok, that’s good to hear then.”
I raised my head and barked at him. Cassie jumped and I kept barking, getting down on the ground to stand in front of him.
“What are you doing?” Cassie said.
She scooped me up with one hand and shut me in the laundry. It was dark, almost black, just one little window to let light in. I could hear muffled voices outside: Cassie apologising, Marcus saying goodnight. I went to the back corner, walked in a few circles and lay down.
It felt like an eternity before Cassie came to let me out. She didn’t speak to me, just opened the door and walked away.
I followed her to the stairs, expecting to have it out but she turned to me and said, “I think it’s best you stay down here.”
She got an old blanket out of the cupboard and lay it down on the floor.
“Why can’t I sleep on the couch?”
“You’ve already got hair everywhere, Rob, just sleep on the blanket.”
I waited until I heard the bedroom door click shut upstairs and made myself comfortable on the couch.
In the morning I woke with the sun, something I never did as a human. I waited around for Cassie to get up but she didn’t. The pantry door was shut; there was bread on the bench but I was too small to reach it. I whimpered, surprising myself with the plaintive sound.
I went upstairs and scratched on the bedroom door and whined until finally Cassie opened up. She rubbed her sleep filled eyes and yawned.
“I’m hungry,” I said.
She sighed, “What do you want?”
I remembered we had a few soup bones in the freezer from some forgotten culinary experiment of Cassie’s. She gave me a bone in the back yard and brought out her morning coffee. She watched me gnaw on it, pinning it with my paws, getting blood on my fur. She must have wondered if this would be her life from now on.
I was lying on the couch watching cartoons when Cassie came out from the shower wearing a leather jacket and red lipstick. She grabbed her car keys and headed for the door.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“To coffee with Marcus.”
“You saw him yesterday.”
I couldn’t say what I wanted to so I didn’t say anything.
After Adventure Time had finished, I went to go outside to pee and found the sliding door shut. Cassie had bolted it so I couldn’t even open it with my nose.
I went to the bathroom and stared at the toilet for some time before going to the study and peeing under Cassie’s desk.
After that I went to the bedroom and found the wardrobe open. I chewed the left foot of each of her shoes.
She didn’t come back for lunch and I needed to pee again so I went about the house leaving little puddles for her to discover.
I tore open her favourite cushion and scratched piles of white-blonde fur onto the dark couch. Spreading what remained of yesterday’s bikkies across the floor, I then finished with downstairs by dragging my arse on the carpet. I destroyed every room in the house I had access to and when she finally came home at seven the place was trashed.
I heard the keys in the lock and waited, sitting proudly amidst the devastation, tail wagging and tongue hanging out.
Her face fell, “What the fuck?”
“Do you know how you look when you swear?” I said
“You’re joking. You are fucking joking.” She walked towards me and stepped in one of my surprises.
“You left me locked in,” I said, “all day.”
“You’re disgusting, what am I supposed to do? Do you expect me to clean it up?”
“I can’t do it. No opposable thumbs.”
“Get in the laundry.”
“Get in the fucking laundry, Rob.”
“No. You can’t just lock me up. I’m your boyfriend not a…”
“A dog? Yes you are.” She gestured around the room. “God, I don’t even see you anymore, you’re not a person. Get in the laundry.”
She was right. I looked around with fresh eyes, and, tail between my legs, I took myself to the laundry. I lay up against the door listening to her clean. Eventually she went upstairs where there was only more debris and I heard her swear loudly and then, I think, she cried.
I didn’t let myself whimper and whine the way I wanted to. I didn’t want her to hear and think I was trying to get attention.
It was beyond that now. We were beyond that.
Sarah Fallon is an emerging writer of (mostly) speculative fiction. She has spent many years drifting between Victoria and Queensland, Australia and has now settled halfway between them on the south-east coast of New South Wales. Fairy-tales, mythology, legends and folklore have always fascinated Sarah and inform many of her short stories. She is currently completing her Masters at Deakin University in Literature and Writing. Sarah has also been published in Phantasmagoria Magazine and sometimes shares her thoughts and feelings at www.readwritethinkrepeat.wordpress.com.