I was reading a book last week about Charles Dickens and how he published his novels in serial form. I won’t be writing any novels anytime soon, but I can use that as an excuse to write a short story in even shorter chunks: “Hey even Dickens didn’t finish things in one go.” Because I am lazy. Here goes.
“Oooh Daddy look at this one! Lookit”
The dog raised her head and shook out the irritating noise the girl gad made. She glared at the small dark-haired girl. The steel fencing made a strange mesh over the small face that was intensely off-putting. The dog averted her eyes and yawned.
“Really kiddo? She’s not a puppy. Says here she’s already five or six, they’re not sure.”
Now there were three of them, a man and an older girl with folded arms. That made the dog feel like she had done something wrong, so she laid her head on her paws and stared up at the people. Out of habit she flicked out her tongue to taste the fence. It was still there and still tasted terrible. The dog wondered when they would get fed next. The fencing was looking more and more tasty. She had eaten worse.
“Oh Daddy she’s so sad. Look at her face.” The girl squatted and offered her small hand. The fingers were small and surprisingly lean for a young girl, strong and splattered with interesting scents like marker, several varieties of dirt and the tang of earthworm. This girl spent a lot of time outside. Not a total waste, then. The dog wagged her tail involuntarily.
“She likes me!”
“What do you think, Beth?” This was the dad, his eyes still on the dog. The dog was a little confused. Was she Beth? She had a name and it was not Beth. But the older girl answered.
“Sure, whatever.” She turned away. The man leaned closer. His face came into focus for the dog: deep set, tired eyes, thinning hair and a somewhat sweaty smell. It was the smell of near exhaustion, bone deep tiredness that takes the breath away. It made the dog pant a bit in anticipation. The man brought to mind a stag brought to bay by the pack, horns lowered but all hope gone, hoping for a quick death.
“Well, I like that it’s not a puppy. Says here she’s trained, and they gave her all her shots. She seems calm. Why don’t we see how she is out of her cage?”
Out of the cage? The dog liked the sound of that. She stood and stretched, butt high in the air, then shook her self hard.
“Whoa, she’s bigger than I thought…” The man sounded nervous, but the little girl clapped her hands and soon the guy who brought the food twice a day was leading her outside on the abominable leash. She forced herself not to chew on it.
“What should we call her?” The sun felt to good for the dog to pay much attention.
“How about Raven?”
The dog sneezed. Not those birds!
“Oh Daddy, she likes Raven! Let’s call her that!”
The dog sneezed again. That was not her name.