Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dog Story

My winter/spring/summer short story project has taken on legs and a life of its own.  I don't know what happened, but it seems one (as in me) cannot create a mythology that centers around one's favorite dogs without at least nodding at the back story.

A couple of weeks after Christmas I sat down one night to simply type out an idea that had been nagging at me since Solomon's death. A mythology that's sprung from family jokes and my own very fertile imagination. I didn't really expect it to turn into anything but over the next couple of weeks whenever I had a little time and was struggling under the weight of Sol's loss, I wrote a few more pages.

The story slowly evolved to focus, not just on Solomon, but on our other two older dogs--Oscar, the bloodhound (you remember him--he likes bubbles, loves kittens, and believes there is a monster in the closet) and Scrappy, our JRT/Dachshund mix--half-wild-thing-half dog--a terror on four legs, the bane of neighborhood rabbits and fearless to a fault.

One day I left the story up on the computer and Gary found it while I was at class. "What's this?" he asked me when I returned from classes.

"Something I've been fiddling with," I replied. "Self-therapy, I guess."

"That's some seriously good self-therapy. You're on to something," he said.

What I'm on to is creating a story that I can print and hand to the boys and maybe a few family friends who know our dogs. It is made up of the half-baked, half realized suspicion that our dogs serve a larger purpose in our lives than we understand. It does not have a title yet. For the life of me, I can't name it, but I am far enough along now (over half-way now with the ending and the climax already mapped) to share it a section at a time every few days. I thought it might be a nice change from my navel gazing/gardening/mommy-thoughts.



His were the trees tall around him, bearing his shadow along with their own, making him part of the landscape.  His were the leaves, an audible landing strip for his brief flights from earth. They announced him when he landed, held silent in between, echoing from one side of the forest to the other, telling the Many that he was everywhere, that he was huge, so they should panic and run and hope that he was not hungry that day.  Young rabbits believed the leaves and didn't question the shadows; they ran and didn't grow old.  Old ones, wise for a reason, would wait.

But tonight he was not hungry. He was seeking the thing that would hunt him. Had hunted him and missed. He was running the boundaries, set out by the old dogs before him.  Making up in noise what he lacked in mass.

We are here, he bayed. We are ravenous. Be afraid.

The voices of the Many had receded. They believed him or Death was not himself hungry enough to test the truth of the promises.

It was an hour of running in the dark, firing staccato warnings, and ignoring the calls of a frantic human. When he had finished and the woods were silent, he crept out, lowered himself to the ground before her.

I am sorry I worried you.

She sighed and picked him up. "Do you have a death wish, little dog? Someday they will get you again if you're not careful."

He had a wish for Death. He wished that it would go away, wished that it was not his job to run between it and his Humans. She would never understand this. But her arms were firm and she smelled like the warm inside of the house where his boy was. He licked the air around her face, making peace, and let her take him there.


Scotty said...

Great idea, Mary, and good story; I liked it.


Mary O. Paddock said...

Thank you Scotty. That means a lot.