Photo credit: Sarah Prescott
I never wanted you, Basil. I wanted some dangerously high-strength prescription pills, smuggled from Eastern Europe.
Warren had told me he had a surprise for me. He’d told me it was small, that it would help me sleep. And I’d happened to see an email pop up on his screen.
It was from a Vladislav Kadinsky. Mr. Kadinsky wanted to meet Warren outside an East Williamsburg diner on Thursday at 3.30 p.m..
I didn’t pry, but I was quietly optimistic. I imagined coming home to unwrap a pill jar from musty tissue paper, a handwritten label I couldn’t read hanging from a string.
I hoped they would help me relax, Basil. Prevent that shiver of whatever-it-was every time my phone lit up — a notification from work, friends, Twitter, Gmail, Instagram, Facebook, Duolingo. “You’ve learnt 1,043 words! Time to learn 5 more?!”
I hoped they might help me to breathe when I woke up and the sky seemed too low.
Instead I got you. All 8 pounds of you was waiting for me on the stoop when I got home. You were like a sleek, horsehair handbag that had been overstuffed with jellybeans and marshmallows. Eyes two runny pots of syrup. Legs a quartet of honey-glazed drumsticks.
Your ears reminded me of the cardboard cathedral in Christchurch. The transitional one that was built out of paper after the church came down in the earthquakes. There was something hopeful in those perky ears.
I don’t even like dogs. They bark they bite they stare and I don’t know what they’re thinking. I don’t know them and they don’t know me.
The first time we were left alone we just stared at one another. I tried to play with you the way I’d seen Anna doing it. You found your bark. I thought you were going to maul me. I was scared, Basil. You and your little Tic Tac teeth. We didn’t play again that day.
But I started daydreaming about you from my desk. You started welcoming me home from work in this way that made me laugh. With the cathedrals pinned back on your head, with the whites of your eyes, with the energy of an exploding birthday cake.
I discovered you liked listening to Mac Miller’s NPR Tiny Desk in my arms.
You made a nest between my legs for sleeping. I slept through the night.
When you licked my face your tongue went up my nose. I rubbed your belly and wiped your bottom. You tried to chew the meaty part of my hand. I didn’t flinch. The sky was a million miles away.