I had seen the dog limping around the village a few days before the evening it called at my door. It was a surprise but then again it wasn’t. When I answered, it was sitting some paces from the step, watching with black eyes. Perhaps I should have been amazed it managed to reach the bell. Perhaps I should have wondered at the directness of its stare. Perhaps it was expecting a different reaction, a more appropriate one, a yelp, or swearing, or beseeching.
I lent back inside to get my coat and it said, you won’t need a coat. So I followed, coatless, as it limped this way and that, and led me down an old dirt track until we reached the river that had grown so lethargic over summer it could barely be called a river anymore. The smell of stagnant water hung thick around us as if the air itself had decomposed. I waited. The dog waited. Then, nodding at an unseen, unheard signal, it picked up a stick and tossed it into the shallow water. Obediently, I fetched, my socks and shoes made sodden and the hems of my jeans stained, and the water, when I reached into it to retrieve the stick, was warm like a second helping of soup.
The disappointment I felt on returning to the bank and finding myself alone was acute.
I went home and watched The X Factor without actually watching it all.
4 thoughts on “Untitled is the title”
loved the inversion of roles involved in this story
Very nice. Quite Kafkaesque (than which there is no higher praise) in the talking dog and the reversal in their relationship to power. I bet you had a time with that first sentence. It reminds me of Grand’s opening sentence in Camus’ The Plague. The ambiguity in what the ‘it’ in the last sentence of the first paragraph refers to is excellent. It seems to me that’s what the whole piece turns on, like a pirouette. ‘The hems of my jeans’ holds me too. It seems to suggest a feminisation. And the ‘actually’ in the last line is delicious. I think this is one of the best things by you I’ve read, Simon.
Excellent piece Simon, loved it, I do like short fiction that mentions both dogs and soup. I’ve just ordered a copy of Dark Waves – if canines or broth are involved in the tale, all the better..