As part of my commitment to challenge myself creatively, I’m writing in new ways. I’ve always been too scared to try my hand at fiction or tell a story as a scene instead of summary. (Never mind actually writing it for the world to see.)
Today I’m doing both.
To ease myself into it I’m taking stories from my every day life, picking up a book I’ve enjoyed, then mimicking the author’s structure to tell said story.
Please also accept this photo of my ridiculously attractive puppy, Homer.
“A Dog Story”
based on Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
Homer can tell I’m watching him, so he looks up and stares straight into my eyes. Sometimes I forget he’s still a baby, but we’ve been together long enough for both of us to act like we’ve always had each other.
The sounds of a runner perk us both up. Good thing Homer is out of the way of the narrow trail, meaning whoever it is can sail on by. I might get to avoid the awkward, “hello” to a stranger. When I’m out here I pretend it really is just us alone in the middle of nowhere.
I move out of the way in preparation, turning my back on the direction of the noise, focusing my attention on Homer. The sounds stop and I feel someone behind me, waiting, wanting something. I turn around.
She’s a couple yards away, almost hidden under a narrow tree, cowering in rage. Her eyes bore into me, radiating fury where I can feel it absorbing into my skin, muggy and rank. She’s tightly gripping the leash of a black dog, the fabric wrapped around and around her wrist. The dog stares at us too, aware of the sudden change in atmosphere.
She doesn’t move, just stares. I wait for her to say something, anything.
“Is he friendly?” I eventually ask, interrupting our silent staring contest. I assume she’s terrified that either my dog or hers is about to attack and we’ll be left on this otherwise empty trail surrounded by blood and fur.
After a beat, she speaks, her tone laced with poison. “He’s friendly, but this is an on-leash trail, you know. I run here every morning because it’s on-leash.”
I curse inwardly as I immediately start pouring through my mental trail maps for proof that this trail is, in fact, off-leash. I’m here every morning and have never seen her. I’ve also never seen any dog here on a leash. This is the only magical wonderland us dog owners can take our companions to roam free, chasing squirrels. What do I say? Do I argue? This woman is clearly out of control with fury and I’m not great at confrontation with strangers, especially when I’m being accused of what she seems to think is akin to murdering babies. Never mind that it’s seven in the morning and I’m having to switch from enjoying-the-misty-alone-time-mode to dealing-with-an-angry-bitch-mode.
I try to keep my voice calm. “Actually, the map online says this trail is off-leash.” I still don’t look at her, hoping she doesn’t notice how nervous I am.
“This part of the trail isn’t. They just changed it.” While her tone is icy, she’s the one who seems unsure. My blood starts to boil. This woman is fucking with my morning.
At this point Homer has stopped his foraging adventure. Tail wagging, ears back, he trots towards this woman and her poor dog. She rears back and yanks her dog even closer.
“Watch your dog!” She shrieks. Her horrible voice pierces the silence of the woods. I imagine a swarm of crows frantically flying out of the trees at this very moment.
“Homer!” I call, lightly, high-pitched, pretending I’m not completely terrified this woman is going to beat me to death.
Thank god for Homer. He stops, sensing he shouldn’t go any further. I approach him and grab his collar. It’s time to go. This is ridiculous and I have nature to enjoy. He whines in discomfort as I walk past this woman, giving her a wide berth. The air is heavy and toxic. All I can think about is getting as far away as possible. My face is red in embarrassment while underneath I simmer with shame.
Oh god she’s not done.
“This is an on-leash trail! They changed it!”
I can’t get a read on her problem and she’s angry for no reason. As I walk past her, crunched over clinging to Homer’s collar, I wave my hand up behind me as if to say, “Yeah yeah, whatever.”
“Okay”, I add, snarky, as if I’m suddenly 16 and my mom’s reminding me to empty the dishwasher.
Suddenly, the forest is sucked of all sound. The birds have stopped singing and the wind has stopped blowing and Homer’s footsteps have stopped crunching the twigs and leaves. I keep walking, sensing some horrible storm is about to hit, quickly trying to get away from this horrible woman.
I can practically hear the sound of her mouth opening, her breath inhaling, preparing. That’s when she says, echoing through nature, “You know what?! FUCK YOU!”