Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: "puppy eyes"
Hope—no, Shane—quieted down much earlier than I did. He hung almost limply in my arms while my heart still raced and my body still trembled. I stared into those large puppy eyes, which now reminded me so, so much of Shane that I reached out and traced the outlines of them with my fingers.
“I can't get over it that you're Shane,” I whispered. “What the hell happened? I thought you were dead!”
Shane let out a pained whine and pushed his cold nose against my throat. I shivered and gently fended off his nose. A sudden thought occurred to me and I asked, “You didn't die, right?”
He wiggled out of my arms and I squashed the urge to pull him back, to make sure he was real and not part of my imagination. Or maybe I'd gone mad without noticing? Grief could do that to people, so perhaps I was one of them?
Shane thumped his tail twice on the floor, then looked at me expectantly. I pulled myself out of my reverie and reached out to pet him. He ambled closer to me, rested his forepaws on my crossed legs, and waited. I took several deep breaths, hoping my voice wouldn't come out as a squeak. “Will you stay a puppy forever?”
He knocked his tail twice and I sensed tension in his body. Cautiously, I asked, “Is there a chance for you to be human again?”
Shane barked and jumped up. He bounced around me in circles, clearly happy and excited. But how was that going to happen? We'd buried his body three months ago, which meant it was gone. I swallowed on a sudden bout of nausea. The image I'd conjured up in my mind didn't help—not at all.
“Hey, stop it,” I said.
Shane barked several times but he didn't stop bounding around. It was making me dizzy, so I simply snatched him by the scruff of his neck and wrestled him onto my lap. There he yipped and wriggled and it needed a sternly said, “Stop. Now!” from me for him to calm down.
“I... I don't know how to get you back in your human form,” I confessed. Not to mention the fact that everyone thought he'd died. I had no idea how to get our lives back on track once he was back in his human form. What if he had to choose a different body? What if I was more superficial than I thought and wouldn't be able to love him anymore?
Cold sweat broke out on my skin as all these thoughts tumbled in my mind. I glanced down at Shane, who gazed up at me from his dark eyes. I curled my hands into his thick fur and scratched his belly.
“I'm completely freaked out,” I said. “I can't put into words how very freaked out I am.”
For a while we sat on the floor and I occupied myself with stroking Shane's fur. A smile threatened to appear. His fur. Shane—the real Shane—was as far away from being described as furry as possible. He didn't have more than a couple of chest hairs, which had sometimes resulted in a sulk when I'd teased him about it.
Shane snatched the hem of my shirt and tugged. I couldn't help it, so I laughed. “You've got fur.”
For a second Shane remained still, then he covered his eyes with his paws and huffed. I tickled his belly until he wriggled on my lap and withdrew his paws. When my laughter died down, he rolled off my lap and ambled back to the table with the tiles. I helped him up and knelt in front of the table, watching every move.
To an outsider it would've looked like a game, when in reality it was Shane's only way of communication with me. I missed his voice, the lightness of it, the way he said the most mundane things and made them sound important, solely because he was fond of something.
I smiled at him. “Shane?”
He cocked his head to the side.
“Is there a chance for us to be together like we were?”
Shane looked as if he was smiling right back at me when he tapped his tail once.
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