A Dog’s Life

‘Don’t ruin this for the both of us,’ I thought, looking over at Bella. I balanced the treats on my nose as Bella looked on, her tongue lolling out of her mouth, her tail wagging ferociously. Mick kept putting more and more treats on my nose and I felt my tail begin to involuntarily shake. This was the last one. He only ever did 6, it was his favourite party trick when people came round. I waited, the smell of the treats making my mouth water.

‘Ok, you can have them,’ he said to me, and looked on proudly as I let the crunchy pieces fall to the floor and snapped them up in my jaws. Bella licked up a few too.

Mick then brought his guests into the lounge. Bella trotted in after them, and as soon as all the guests were sat, she placed herself underneath Mick’s feet. I walked in more slowly, having spent a bit more time licking the floor where the treats had been. There were about 4 of them in there, and I made the rounds, going from person to person, letting them stroke my soft head. I looked over at Bella. She was softly leaning against Mick’s legs.

I decided to get comfy. I walked around in a circle a few times before plonking myself down in the centre of the room. Mick and the other humans looked at me adoringly and I sighed loudly, letting my breathing relax me, provoking coos from my captive audience.

My ears pricked up. I had heard something at the door. I heard a growl rumble at my throat. Yes, I had definitely heard voices by the door. They might be coming in! I let out a loud bark, and Bella joined in. This might be serious! I barked again, warning the intruder that they wouldn’t make it very far.

‘Shut up Rory, shut up Bella!’ Mick roared. I carried on listening for the voices, but they seemed to have gone. I looked over at Mick. He looked angry, he didn’t understand the danger we were just in. I put my head on my paws sadly. My efforts to protect our pack were never appreciated.

You probably wouldn’t believe it, but sometimes it’s hard being a dog.

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Chinese

Sitting with the Chinese takeaway on my lap, I flicked through Netflix.

‘What do you want to watch?’

‘Anything really, maybe something funny?’

‘Alright.’ I put some How I Met Your Mother on and took a large bite out of a chicken ball.

He sat down beside me. He gave my leg a squeeze, before swirling some noodles on his fork and putting them in his mouth, chewing slowly. He swallowed, and looked at me for a few seconds.

‘I love you so much you know,’ he said.

I couldn’t remember a happier moment.

 

New baby

‘She won’t stop crying!’ I jiggled her in my arms, her wailing in my ear bringing me closer to the brink of a full scale migraine.

‘She will eventually love, it just takes time to get to know what she needs. Have you checked her nappy?’

‘Yes, like 4 times, it’s not that.’

‘Is she hungry?’

‘No she’s literally just fed. Help me I don’t know what to do.’

‘Put her in the crib and see if she’s tired, she might just need a nap.’

I placed her in the crib as gently as I could, scared that I would break her. Her third night at home and I didn’t have the first clue about what she wanted, liked or needed from me. I checked my watch, and mum saw me.

‘I know, I’m sorry, I’ll be back tomorrow to help again.’

‘Is there no way you can stay?’

She shook her head, gave me a kiss and a hug goodbye. ‘You’ll be fine, love.’

I thanked her and shut the door, leaving me alone with my baby.

‘It’s okay, shhh, don’t worry Mummy’s here.’ I felt like a fraud. I wasn’t her real mum and she saw right through me. I was playing the part, but I wasn’t even playing it well. I didn’t know how to take care of her. The books I swore by had taught me nothing. Was I naive to think this could work? Emma – the lady from the adoption agency, had said it would take time, but I wasn’t so sure. I stroked Anna’s soft head slowly, not sure who I was trying to reassure; me or her.

She started to quiet, and I exhaled slowly and sank to the chair beside her. Her tears had worn her out and her angry, red face cooled to a soft, blush pink.

I started speaking softly to her. ‘It’s you and me here, Anna. I can’t do this without you too.’ I started to cry. ‘I’ll take care of you, don’t worry. I won’t leave you. You’re so beautiful, aren’t you, hey? You’ve got the prettiest blue eyes, and you’ve got the loveliest, wrinkliest little hands I’ve ever seen.’ I brushed my fingers over her minuscule palms. Feeling my touch, her hand clamped around my finger, tighter than I imagined.

‘Do you know what, Anna? I think we’re going to be alright.’

First kiss

A mosquito-filled haze settled on the moor. Pink and orange burst through the darkness like candyfloss, and the air tasted sweet. Clammy hands held each other – loose, but not enough to let go. Birds cawed in the distance and mice scuttled nearby, dancing over the crisp autumn leaves.

They looked at each other. A perfect evening can only mean one thing. Their first kiss. They leaned in so slowly it felt like they were underwater. Everything felt still and quiet. Their lips touched and suddenly everything was a blur. Frail, wrinkled hands stroked each other and glasses fell to the floor. Lipstick and mints fell out of their handbags and rolled on the ground. Everything was loud and vibrant. Birds sang gloriously in their nests and the wind howled.

For the first time in 76 years, Margaret and Lilith were truly happy.