‘Let’s go for a walk,’ I heard on this day as I lay dozing in front of the fire.
My ears pricked at the sound and, involuntarily, my tail twitched.
‘We can have a drink at the pub.’
My ears went down again. I’ve been on these walks before – quick march around the park paths and into the noisy place told to lie down. I’d rather have a romp through the woods, sniffing for rabbits or squirrels. The coats and boots were donned, my lead clipped on.
It was as I thought – no dawdling, no time to smell anything interesting. We got to the pub place and on this day, they sat at a little round table. He ordered drinks, nothing for me – shoved under the table and told me to stay still.
I rested my nose on my paws and listened. I heard chatting and laughing, I heard a ping from the money-taking thing, I heard glasses on the surface above my head. I tried to scratch an itch, but I got a sharp tug on the lead. There were four tele things there, all with the same picture and no sound. Men ran about on grass. It was the game with a ball – foot-something.
She asked him what they would do at the weekend.
On this day, he said, ‘Ssh! I’m trying to see the score.’
She shuffled in her seat and turned towards the window where a group were laughing. Her leg against my flank trembled.
I should have described them: he was tall, with dark hair and eye improvers. He did something in ‘robotics’ with machine-thingies – Machine Man, I called him. He liked coffee, ‘hot and strong’ and steaks, rare.
She was dark too, but tiny, with bird-like bones in her hands and feet, and long hair. There were photos of her in flimsy outfits with funny long shoes tied with ribbons. She smelled nice.
They used to laugh all the time; they had so much to say. Now, in the evenings, he’s silent in front of the tele thing; she plays on her phone, goes to bed early. I wish they would go back to how they were.
Tonight, they sat in silence for a long time: he, looking at the tele thing; she, not looking at anything but I could feel tension in her body.
I heard a whistle and the men stopped running.
‘Shall we go?’ he said.
She turned towards him.
‘No,’ she said. ‘On this day, here and now, I’m leaving. I’ll stay with my sister and come for my things tomorrow. I can’t go on like this.’
‘What about the dog?’
‘You keep him. I don’t want any memories of the end of this.’
I laid my head in her lap and looked at her, willing her to take me but her eyes were hard and cold.
On this day, I lost my mistress, the twirling body: Cinderella, Juliet, Giselle; and was left with Machine Man.