This story is by Jamie Hansen Niebergall and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Lying at the edge of her bed, I watch my Sadie sleep, trying not to move a muscle. I don’t want to wake her; I don’t want to make her any angrier. The morning sun creeps through the curtains. Today’s sky should be dark and depressing, filled with clouds and not rays of happy sunshine. All I can think about is that when Sadie wakes up, we have to start our good-byes all over again.
Sadie’s breaking point happened yesterday. She warned me over and over again that she couldn’t take it anymore and that I was becoming too difficult, and too expensive, to live with any longer. But I didn’t listen. It never crossed my mind for a second that she was serious.
“Okay, Josie, I’ve got to go. Please, please be good today. I can’t clean up another disaster when I get home. I really need you to behave.” Sadie’s eyes pleaded with me, but I stared back at her with my big black eyes, wagging my tail.
For most of the day I slept, occasionally getting up to get a drink of water, passing by the trashcan under the sink each time. Left over cheese and ham, tuna fish, and something I couldn’t quite make out, all called to me. The aroma was tantalizing, and it grew harder and harder to resist each time I passed, until finally I gave in. I easily popped the cabinet door open with my nose and pulled the trashcan over. The contents spilled, gently spreading farther and farther across the floor as I rummaged through it. I found more than I bargained for, taking each item over to the couch where I lay content with my treasures.
I guess I didn’t realize what a mess I made until I saw the look on Sadie’s face when she walked through the door. The once coffee colored couch was painted in marinara stains and coffee grounds that I had tracked all over the plush cushions. Torn up used nasal tissues and chicken bones, each a delicious treat that kept me entertained for what seemed like hours, coated the barely visible kitchen tile. Pasta noodles, plastic utensils, black beans, pencil shavings, and used tea bags decorated the carpet. Worse, red paw prints from a mystery liquid wound throughout the apartment, a treasure map to an unknown destination. It took Sadie into the wee hours of the morning to clean it all up, not to mention her new couch was ruined.
It wasn’t the first time this happened. In fact, disasters like this were almost a weekly occurrence. Sadie’s face fell. She didn’t get angry, in fact, she started to cry.
“Oh, Josie,” She fell to her knees. I sat beside her and licked her cheek. “I’m so sorry, Josie. I just can’t do this anymore.”
After she finished cleaning, we spent the last few hours of the night together, side by side, a girl and her dog. I stayed close and looked at her with my big eyes, hoping with all my might that she would change her mind. Sadie wiped tears from her pale flushed cheeks and brushed her red hair out of her puffy red eyes. I’m going to miss her.
Now, as the morning wears on, I find myself waiting.
Out of the blue, the silence of the room was broken by the clanging sound of the doorbell. It rang again, two more times. Frustrated, Sadie jumped out of bed and trudged to the door, mumbling curse words under her breath, me at her side.
“Yes? May I help you?” Sadie peered out from the slightly open door. A tall, thin man with thick, greasy hair stood on the other side wearing blue coveralls and holding a small tool chest. I could smell arrogance and death on his skin, triggering my protective instinct over Sadie. A deep growl barreled from my chest.
“Good morning Miss. There have been a few small electrical fires in the building, so the landlord sent me over to check your outlets and switches to make sure everything is up to code.”
“I haven’t heard of anything wrong in the building.”
“Really? He must be trying to keep these incidents quiet. I’m sure he doesn’t want to alarm anyone.” He flashed a toothy smile. I growled louder and paced behind Sadie, agitated. Don’t let this man in here.
She sighed, thinking for a moment. “I guess.” Sadie stood aside to let him in, but he hesitated.
“Um, do you mind? The German Shepherd.” He looked at me and back at Sadie.
“Oh, sure, hold on.”
Sadie took me by the collar and led me into the bedroom. I tried to resist, but Sadie won, closing me inside. Soft murmurs came from the living room as the two talked. I kept my ears perked up, listening intently, pacing around the room and staring at the door as if I could magically make it disappear.
All of a sudden, a crash exploded through the apartment as Sadie let out a horrific scream. The sounds of struggle and another crash had me jumping and scratching at the door, barking incessantly. I had to get to her; I had to get to my Sadie.
“Help! Please someone help!” Terror filled her pleas as she struggled to get away from her attacker. I could hear her trying to pull herself across the floor, gasping for air; his footsteps close behind as he laughed.
“Now, where do you think you’re going?”
I pawed frantically at the lever door handle. I had seen Sadie use this stupid contraption a million times, why wasn’t it working for me? Finally, the door popped open.
As I came around the corner of the hallway, he had Sadie by her hair dragging her back into the living room through thousands of glass shards where the coffee table once stood. She sat leaning against the couch bleeding heavily from her head and nose. Hundreds of tiny little cuts covered her thighs, small droplets of blood forming at each one.
I had never felt such fury course through my veins. The man focused on his victim and I moved undetected, creeping within range of my prey. With all my force I launched myself off my strong hind legs and knocked him down, sinking my teeth deep into his upper arm. My mouth filled with his blood as he screamed in pain. Desperate, he tried to get me off him, punching me with his available arm. He landed two good hits on my rib cage, causing me to loosen my grip just as he kicked me in the gut. I yelped and I let go. He scrambled to his feet, frantically looking for some kind of weapon to use against me. I altered my position, growling and baring my teeth, my paws stepping through the shards of glass, calculating my next attack.
I glanced away for a moment to make sure Sadie was alright. She was huddled in the corner on the phone. That was when he saw his chance. He lunged at me with a small pocket knife and sunk it into my side. I yelped and my eyes glazed over with rage. I threw all my weight at him, watching his eyes fill with fear. The force of my body connecting with his threw him down to the floor hard, smashing his head against the tile floor. I bit down on his upper arm as hard as I could until I heard the bone crush. Pinning him down with my weight, I readjusted my bite closer to his shoulder as he let out another agonizing scream. My teeth moved deeper into the muscle and crushed more of the already shattered bone. I held onto him until he stopped moving, unconscious from the intense pain from the multiple breaks.
Sadie crept up next to him and poked him with the tip of her toe. He didn’t move.
“Easy girl,” Sadie’s soothing voice calmed my rage, the look in her eyes told me that all was okay and I released him. Exhausted and in pain, I laid down to keep a close eye on our assailant. My body ached and I realized there was still a pocket knife protruding from my rib cage. Sadie crawled up behind me and wrapped her arms around my neck, burying her face in my fur. She gently slid her hand down my body, wrapping her fingers around the knife and pulled. I whimpered and lay my head in her lap as she dressed my wound with her sock.
“Thank you Josie, thank you,” she whispered, barely able to speak. “I can’t believe I considered getting rid of you. I’m so horrible. How will you ever forgive me?”
I looked at Sadie with all my love and licked the side of her face. I love her. She’s my person and I’m her dog.