When I started this project, I knew there were bound to be stories I wrote about which I didn't know how to feel. Why not use the second week of these posts to cut right into it? I wrote this one quickly a few years back, after CJ The Labradane passed away. I think I eventually wrote in a more emotionally healthy way about it later, but at the time, all I wanted was for her to put her paw on the door, asking to come back in from the back yard. Then, I realized if that ever did happen, then there would be something far more problematic going on.
Anyway, in the spirit of problematic goings on, I present "Kibble." Next week, I'll have something perhaps upbeat, or at the very least not alternately depressing and absurd.
All that remained was the kibble. It was the only thing left to do. She'd have no need for the food before it spoiled. Had she the presence of mind, she might have donated her supply to the local humane society, but the thought never occurred to her.
Popping the top off of the plastic tank, she poured the food into the trash can. He had always been finicky about the it. In a few short seconds, it would all be gone and life could return to--
She stopped pouring. A few pieces scattered onto the ground. The distant noise repeated. She finished emptying the container while trying to listen for its source. On its fourth repeat, she realized the noise had come from the front door. She moved to unlock it, all the while wondering why her visitor hadn't rung the doorbell.
She swung the door open and promptly fell to her knees. Sitting pretty, the dog seemed more confused than anything else by the day's events. She rubbed behind his ears, forcing the white shock of hair above his eyes to arc in that same look of quiet contemplation that had connected them so thoroughly years before.
How did this--?
It must have all been a mistake. From the blood work through the big green pills that didn't do any damned good, all the way to the intentional overdose of anesthesia. Her dog had lived. Not only that, he had found his way home all on his own.
Just as she thought to call the vet's office to try and make sense of all this, another sound echoed through the cul-de-sac. It sounded like rustling or scampering, but to the power of ten.
Dozens of dogs rounded the corner and came galloping down the street. Another terrible noise threatened to overwhelm her. She looked to her left. In the backyard of the house catty corner to hers, something tried to crawl out of the ground. At that moment, all she could see were paws poking out of the grass.
She looked back to the oncoming pack. One of the dogs had no head. Another had met some other manner of violent end, judging by the tire tracks across its mangled body. Another was nothing more than a bleached skeleton clacking down the sidewalk.
Her sudden rapid breathing echoed in her ears. That each animal turned into a different house along the street and didn't descend on her en masse didn't make her feel any better. She looked down at him. He started growling but never took his gaze away from her. The snarling didn't ease her anxiety, nor did his bared fangs.
I'm going to need more kibble, she thought.