Dog days

30. Juni 2015 at 22:53 (Posts in English) (, , , , , , , , , )

This is the second part of a story I wrote for the Write Now meeting in May. You can read the first part here: Bird of passage and here is the third and final part: Flight.


It had been unusually hot for a whole week now. The dog days hardly ever hit London, but when they did, life became unbearable for those who weren’t used to sweating their souls out. The heat started to seep in through door cracks and warped windows long before the sun reached its boiling point. The best solution was to go outside and hope for a light breeze in the shadow of the trees beside the River Thames.

Jonathan checked on Lily before he left for work. The living room was only lit up by a thin slice of light evaporating from the street lamp, jostling in through the curtains that never quite seemed to be able to meet, slashing brightly across Lily’s face. When she was asleep, she still looked as peaceful and undisturbed as a child, except for the grim-faced dragon that spat fire on her forearm. Even now, seventeen years later, he felt compelled to watch out for his little sister. And Lily needed his assistance a lot. Somehow, she managed to manoeuver herself from one delicate situation to the next. Currently, she was crashing at Jonathan’s place, because she had nowhere else to go – and because her brother was the only person left who cared for her well-being.

Apart from the dog, of course. Although Lily was known for shouting and screaming when she was upset – and she mostly paid visits to her brother, when she had reached the pitfall of pain from which she couldn’t pull herself out alone – the dog would just shelter his delicate ears for the duration of the noisy disruption, but love the perpetrator all the same. Because she was family and even the dog knew that.

Two hours after Jonathan had begun his day of work, the golden retriever started licking Lily’s face, wagging his tail joyfully against the couch and her thighs. She groaned and yawned. The dog mimicked her yawn and started yapping at her. Smelling the dog’s breath, she felt slightly sick. She rushed to the bathroom.
When she came back, the dog was sitting at the door, looking up at her expectantly. She owed him a walk. That was the deal – Jonathan tried to sustain their lives and she walked the dog. Her brother would be stacking fresh bread, rolls and scones until one o’clock, then he would come home with loads of carbs in his backpack, feed his roommates and leave for another evening of serving beer at the pub across the street. And she would, well, walk the dog again.

Jonathan had somehow managed to get his life on track, and Lily admired him for this. However, she didn’t have any motivation to follow his lead. She hadn’t held a job for more than two months, she had started and quit several educational programmes, but she couldn’t force herself to stick with anything, really. It was the same with partners – she liked to let herself be picked up in filthy bars, but as soon as she showered and her skin lost the smell of whichever man she had slept with, she began to alienate herself from him and soon found another filthy bar to drink her beer in.

When she couldn’t put it off any longer, she attached the long leash at the dog’s collar. She slipped on her running shoes. They dashed down the stairs, letting the door snap shut behind them, running out onto the street and off into the grey city’s beckoning arms.
As soon as they arrived at the river, Lily had to throw up into the deliciously blooming bushes – like every morning of the last three weeks. The dog didn’t mind, he was busily marking his territory. The sun smiled smoulderingly from the clear blue sky, weaving golden patterns on the surface of the river. Lily rinsed her mouth at the water fountain, splashed some water on the dog’s head as a revenge for wetting her face with its saliva and off they ran again.


Before Jonathan left for his evening at the pub, she told him that she didn’t want the baby and that she hated the guts of the man who had impregnated her. She neither remembered his name nor his smell, only the thick brown fluff of chest hair on which she had rested her head before falling asleep. And most importantly, she didn’t want to beg for money, she said. (Not for his money, at least. Jonathan’s was okay.) Then she left, because she didn’t want to discuss the matter of her surprising fertility any further.

“You’re not going to drink, are you?”, Jonathan cried after her, before she could disappear into the hallway. She stopped at the door and glared back at him, “How stupid do you think I am? I’m going to inform myself about adoption services. I don’t want her to lead a life that is as fucking miserable as ours. I want her to grow up in a stable family!” Jonathan came a step closer and tried to grab her hand, but she wouldn’t let him. “How do you know already that it’s going to be a girl?”, he asked her, while his eyebrows where climbing up higher and higher on his forehead. She stared at him again and hissed, “I just know it, okay?!”, and before he could say anything else, she left and slammed the door shut behind her. The dog barked its goodbye.

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