It’s been a minute … sorry about that. Life, you know?
We’ve been dealing with some family stuff, work stuff. No different than anyone else, but unfortunately it manifests itself for me in neglecting my writing. Or at least my “unpaid” writing, since writing is what I’m doing full-time right now.
Without anything much but lament to share personally, I wanted to share a piece of fiction I did for a writing contest.
By way of background, this particular one is a flash fiction contest (1,000 words or less) and gives a genre, location and item that need to be incorporated into the story. This was romance, bonfire and eyeglasses. Random, yes, but at worst it makes for an interesting exercise.
I’m pleased with how it came out, and the judges scored it pretty highly in my group. I’d love and appreciate any feedback. So, here you go …
Dog’s Best Friend
I saw her across the crowded yard full of humans, laying next to a bonfire while her person was shouting about some music she thought was really cool. I didn’t like her but I could tell right away that Guy – that’s what I can my human – really liked her. Like, REALLY liked her. That was a problem, because Guy had the worst taste in human women.
I tried not to think about that because of her – the most beautiful long golden hair, the shiny beaded collar, her giant brown eyes … she was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. And she was chewing on Loud Girl’s glasses, which had fallen to the ground without anyone but the two of us noticing.
Slowly, I walked to where she was laying, busily slobbering all over those bright red glasses, and sniffed behind her. What a smell! And when she turned around, her brown eyes looked like two juicy treats in the reflection of the fire. But a second later, she was back at those glasses.
How do I get her attention, I wondered, then I did the first thing that popped into my brain – I barked! Not a mean, “go away, mailman!” bark, but the soft one I use when I want to come inside but Guy’s not waiting right there for me.
It worked, but not how I thought it would. She dropped the glasses, but Loud Girl looked down and saw how they’d been chewed on and yelled at my would-be love.
“Skye! Bad girl!” she shouted, and the poor girl lowered her head with the saddest expression. Here’s my chance, I thought, as I laid beside her to console her. Guy made his move too, fumbling for a napkin to wipe the glasses off. His move was much better received than mine, as the woman smiled and took the napkin. My girl just kept her head down, looking broken.
“She didn’t mean it,” I whispered as I leaned my head closer. “They just can’t tell when we’re making something better for them.”
Finally, she lifted her head with a smile and touched her nose to mine. At the same time, Loud Girl had her head resting on Guy’s shoulder. So it was a happy bonfire for both of us.
Guy made plans to return to the bonfire the next weekend but he got sick and we couldn’t go, so we planned to go the following Friday. I hoped that Skye hadn’t forgotten me. Two weeks can be a long time to remember someone you just met.
On that Friday, I could tell Guy was excited because he put on that smelly cologne he only wore when trying to impress a human girl. I could smell it from the backyard while he was splashing it on in the bathroom. Yuck.
“Now Chester,” he said as he put my best harness on me and attached the leash, “please try to be cool tonight. I really like this girl and I want her to like you too. OK?”
I smiled – there’s no other way for them to understand us – and let him scratch my neck. What I wanted to say was, “I’ve got as much riding on this as you do, buddy. Don’t blow it for me.”
The 10-minute drive seemed like hours but we finally arrived at the bonfire. During the drive, I learned the human girl’s name was Chloe, which is an OK name. I was rooting for Guy … his luck with human girls was really bad, and he deserved to find a good one who likes him as much as he likes them.
As we walked to where the people were, Chloe was again talking loudly and waving her arms around, going on about something she just saw on the TV, which I found out is that weird window where human watch things and yell while other humans play games.
When she saw us, she stopped for a second, smiled and waved, then went right back to talking again. I didn’t see Skye anywhere, which made me sad until I smelled the same smell from two weeks earlier and I knew she was close by.
Sometime between the first time and then, she had a bath and it made her smell very sweet. She smiled when she saw me, walked over and touched our noses again, which made me very happy.
I think Guy and Chloe were very happy too, because after that night she and Skye were around a lot. The humans talked about living together, and we got excited about that, but it didn’t last very long. Guy’s taste in human women was, again, not very good. But Chloe was nice enough to let Skye live with Guy and me when she left, and that makes her a good human in my eyes.
She did take one of our puppies though, one of them lives on the farm where the bonfires happen, and one stayed home to live with us.
When I think about how sad Guy was when Chloe left, it hurts my heart. But it didn’t last too long. We have a new human with us, and when they talking about something called a wedding they get very excited, so I think she’ll be here with us for a while.
Skye gets sad about Chloe sometimes. It’s hard when your human goes away. But when she feels bad, she goes to our crate and pulls out something she hides under the blankets in the back – Chloe’s old glasses, which are covered with chew marks. Seeing those gives me a warm feeling, like when we first met.
This column originally appeared on Chris's website in August 2022