Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Each Alone

I couldn't just leave Mary and Duke hanging.     

     Mary dragged herself toward the front door.  It had been an exhausting day, all she wanted was a hot shower and her bed.  She needed to rinse away the odor of barely concealed decay that permeated the funeral home.  Then she needed to be unconcious.

    She reached for the doorknob. Mary gazed at the door of the house where they'd spent so much time together.  On the other side of that door was loneliness.
    Then she saw the dog. Duke still stood watch at the front window, waiting.  He glanced at her momentarily, then looked around and beyond.  He was always John's dog, her only interaction with him had been keeping him off the furniture.

     Finally, closing her eyes, Mary opened the door and stepped into the empty house. Duke wagged his tail briefly, acknowledging her entrance, his eyes still focused outside. Mary sighed and shuffled toward the living room.

     She wavered a moment, lost in her own home. There was no routine for this new chapter of her life. She sat, back rigid, on the edge of the sofa, still clutching her purse. Her memories of John drifted on the tears puddling behind her lashes.

     Mary hadn't seen Duke come into the room. He whined softly as he sat in front of her.  She supposed he was hungry, or needed to go out.  She laid aside her purse and forced herself to her feet.

    In the kitchen she found Duke's dry water dish.  The sound of the water filling the bowl echoed in the dark kitchen. She set the dish in front of the dog, then returned to the edge of the sofa.  Without the purse, her hands clutched themselves.

    Duke stood in front of her again.  Mary drew a breath, she wasn't ready to deal with his needs.  She looked away, he leaned into her legs with sigh.  Her drawn breath released a flood of loss and frustration.  The tears broke through her exhaustion.

    She felt warmth against her shoulder, could smell a lingering hint of John's aftershave in the heavy fur.  Duke sat beside her on the forbidden sofa, his eyes focused on hers.  Mary wrapped her arms around the dog and cried her pain into his neck.  He sat quietly beside her until she could cry no more.

     Mary, too tired to move, fell asleep, curled into the corner of the sofa. Duke cast one final look at the front door, then drifted to sleep beside her.

I linked up with a Story Dam prompt: Write fiction or non-fiction, tell us what lies on the other side of the door.
Story Dam


  1. Beautifully done - a great read. I did something similar with a cat and a man in my last post.

  2. Oh, jeez, why is it that it's always the animals that make my throat all tight? Using the poor dog as a central focus made this piece that much more poignant. It's another shadow that helps define the empty hole, do you know what I mean?

    1. That is a really good way of putting it. Know exactly what you mean.

  3. Oh, Renee... there's so much to love about this. We forget that we're not the only ones who grieve.

  4. What a lovely response to the prompt. I could see Duke's eyes and feel his fur on my face. A beautifully-written and very moving piece, Renee.