Short Story: Lap Dog by Sarah W.

A story about loss and mortality, told from an unusual perspective.

The old woman was dead. The stench that permeated the small house was unmistakable, but Suzie had known only moments after her ragged breathing had ceased. She had been big in life, and the swollen varicose veins in her legs and feet bulged like blue marbles under her pale skin.

Her pink bathrobe looked gray to Suzie’s partially color-blind eyes. She had gotten out of the shower, lay on the bed for a moment to catch her breath, and died. Her hair was sopping. Her bra, panties, sweats, and ‘World’s Coolest Grandma’ shirt were draped over the back of a chair.

Would the grandchildren come? Suzie wondered. The woman seemed to like the grandchildren but Suzie hated them. They had no manners, they were always shrieking and grabbing. Suzie wasn’t so young herself these days. She had been a few weeks old when the woman had gotten her from a breeder. YORKSHIRE TERRIER PUPPIES, INQUIRE WITHIN the sign on the front of the house had said. The woman had come in and haggled over the price, which she said was ‘too much.’

‘They’re purebreds,’ the girl who lived in the house said. ‘We could easily sell them for more.’ Some of the people who bought the puppies had been yelly and grabby but the woman was nice and quiet. Her son said Suzie had been a waste of money. ‘Little turd,’ he had hissed when she had playfully nipped his finger, careful not to let his mother hear the insult. ‘Goddamn lousy excuse for a dog.’ 

    Sure, there were things about the woman Suzie wouldn’t miss. Like being dressed in little outfits, for example. She had been a bumblebee for Halloween and being aaww-ed over by kids (and some adults) who came to the house to get candy had been tiresome. The stripes itched. Having her limbs manipulated to make her ‘dance’ when people were over and the woman had had too much to drink. If she had been anybody else Suzie would have bitten her.

But they had good times. Every night Suzie slept on the woman’s chest, feeling the rise and fall of her breath in pleasurable little tremors. Suzie had known the woman was sick for a long time. She had braced herself. There was no point going into something like this unaware. The woman hadn’t known today would be her last day but Suzie had known, or at least suspected.

Human frailty has a smell. Suzie had hoped she would be the one to go first, partly for selfish reasons. She knew from listening to conversations what happened to dogs nobody wanted. The woman’s son would have no problem inflicting it upon her.

The old woman’s body had been lying there on the bed for less than a day and a half, but it was April and the air conditioner was broken. Suzie hoped she wouldn’t have to eat pieces of her in order to survive. She didn’t think she would… she wasn’t a cat, after all. But desperate times called for desperate measures. Her food bowl was full. She had been conserving it.

She walked up to the body and sniffed the limp, lifeless hand. She would never lie on the woman’s chest again, she realized. Of course she had known that but this was the first time it had really, truly sunk in. The woman would never again throw Suzie’s pink squeaky ball across the living room while she half-watched game shows and old soap operas. That part of her life was unequivocally over. 

When was someone coming? Was somebody coming? The woman hadn’t been a social butterfly but she hadn’t been a complete loner either. Surely somebody was going to notice. The woman didn’t deserve to lie like this in the heat and the damp, her bare legs sticking wetly to the mattress. 

Suzie knew she had had a good life. Lots of dogs hadn’t lived as long or as well as she had. She tried scratching at the front door and barking again but her efforts were fruitless. 

She lay beside the bed and rested her head on her paws. Somebody had to come. They had to. She jumped onto the bed and nestled up to the woman’s feet. Her nose inches from the woman’s toes, she waited.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s