I stood up slowly. She watched me but didn’t move. I walked round the end of the bed toward the back of the room, where the fruits of my visit to the mall sat in their plastic bags. I groped till I found a can of tuna and a loaf of bread. I retrieved the plastic basket, poured the last few drops of water out, tore up some bread, dumped the tuna over (fortunately it had a pull-tab like a beer can), and set it beside Sid. She’d raised her head and was watching me. There was definitely some lip-licking action.
She stood up and snorfed the lot in about a second and a half. “Oh,” I said. I had a second tin of tuna and three quarters of a loaf of bread left, so I did it again. This also disappeared. “Oh dear,” I said. “Are you going to turn out to be the canine version of a sixteen-year-old boy?”
She licked the bottom of the plastic basket lovingly, and lay down again. When she sighed this time it sounded like a happy, contented sigh. I used soap on the basket and put more water down for her. She was lying on her side and her eyes were closed. They blinked open when I set the water down, and the tail came up and down in a totally committed wag.
“Okay,” I said. “I want to take a bath, and it’s too cold to leave the door open. You’re staying, right?”
The tail thumped again, and the eyes shut.
I closed the door.
Don’t do this at home. I could have fed her outdoors, if I was deranged enough to feed an unknown, just-met stray dog at all. I didn’t even know if she was housebroken, let alone if she had psychotic breaks when she went around destroying furniture and ripping people’s throats out. Plus fleas and ringworm.
I had my bath. Maybe the sound of gentle canine snores had its effect, because I fell asleep in the bath. When I woke up because the water was getting cold she was still stretched out on the carpet between the door and the bed. There was kind of a lot of her. It wasn’t very wide but the legs went on and on. I dried my wizened, water-pruney self off and put on a clean t shirt and pants from the plastic bag my rose-bush had thoughtfully brought to my attention. Had it only been last night? Yeep. Then reluctantly I put my clothes back on, and opened the door. Ugh. It was still winter in New Iceland.
Sid was awake and looking at me over her shoulder. “Come on,” I said. “You have to go out first if you’re going to spend the night in here. I’m not entirely mad, only about ninety percent.” She wagged her tail but didn’t move. I walked back to her and knelt down beside her. She liked this. She wagged her tail again and tried to roll over on her back, which, with her long narrow body and peaked spine, was not easy. She managed. Assuming I was being invited, I rubbed her tummy. Definitely a girl. A very, very skinny girl.
When she flopped over on her side again I said. “Okay. You still have to go out. I promise to let you back in again. Ninety percent. Mad.” While she was thinking about it I rummaged among my shopping till I found a roll of small plastic bags. I opened the box and stuffed a few in my pocket.
“Come on,” I said. “Dragging you is not in the plan.”
She heaved herself to her feet and trotted outdoors. I had a brief awful sinking of the heart when she lined out across the lot—she’d had her way with me, which was to say dinner, and was now moving on. No. She just liked the look of that particular tree. I followed her and picked up what she left. When I had bought that roll of small plastic bags the imminent arrival of Silent Wonder Dog and the inevitable responsibilities involved with same had been the last thing on my mind. Pet store. And vet.
She finished her business and trotted immediately back to cabin seven. I was pleased that no curtains twitched at any of the other cabins’ lighted windows.
Sid trotted straight up the steps of cabin seven and waited expectantly at the door. I left a small plastic bag with a knot holding it closed between Merry and the porch. I opened the cabin door and Sid went straight in. She collapsed. I closed and locked the door. I looked at the dog on the floor and shook my head.
I got out of my clothes and into bed. I set the alarm. Gods help me I was moving tomorrow. I was moving into my new house. Tomorrow. It was still relatively early. I had been going to check my email tonight. I wavered. No. I was moving tomorrow. And I now had pet store and vet on the urgent list too. And I was exhausted. Email could wait. I turned the light off. I lay down.
There was a faint whispery noise, and then a gentle new weight on the bed. It paused, either for a reaction or while it viewed the territory, and then delicately stepped over me to settle down on the other side of the queen-sized bed I was tactfully taking up less than half of. It sighed.
Fleas. Ringworm. Psychotic breaks.
I fell asleep.
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