Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: "When did you get to be so smart?"
The puppy licked my face with all the enthusiasm of a youngster, then decided it was done and squirmed out of my arms. For a second I feared it would run away, but the pup ventured back into the house, using his head to push open the screen door open.
I followed and made sure to close both the screen door and the front door, just in case the pup decided to stroll around on its own. Afterward, I stood in the hallway, my mind registering that I was swaying on the spot, and as I sniffed the air. It reeked of misery and... it smelled as if someone needed a good wash.
I lifted my arms and took a whiff. I almost gagged, then staggered toward the bathroom. While I undressed, the puppy's small head peeked through the ajar bathroom door. It barked, wagged its tail, and sat down on a bathmat in front of the tub. I didn't mind the puppy watching. It might be a tad weird but not unwelcome.
I stashed my clothes into the overflowing hamper and tried to recall the last time I did the laundry. I came up empty. Shrugging it off, I stepped inside the shower cubicle and grimaced when my feet touched something squishy. I wouldn't go so far as to say I shrieked but I definitely stumbled backward and barely managed to stop myself from falling.
With my heart thumping, and the puppy jumping around me, I stared at the shower floor. A strangled sound escaped my mouth. I crouched down to soothe the yapping pup and it put its paws onto my knees, its whole body wiggling.
“You're one happy little fellow, aren't you?”
The puppy barked and stretched so it could swipe its tongue over my nose. I chuckled. “And I'm a fool. I freaked out about a piece of soap. Might be better to use it on me, huh? Aren't you dogs to be supposed to have such sensitive noses? How could you even stand to sleep on top of me?”
Either my question was stupid, or the puppy's attention span was tiny, because it yawned and lumbered to another bathmat in front of the sink. There it curled up with its head on its paws. Still, its tail swished back and forth.
I got to my feet, after retrieving the soap, and took the longest shower in of my life. I felt like a new person when I was finished. I even found a fresh towel in one of the cabinets and dried myself off. As I stared in at my reflection in the mirror, I recoiled.
A haggard face with deeply sunken eyes and circles that looked more like black smudges stared back at me. I touched my face, which was covered with dark brown facial hair. When the hell had I decided to grow a beard? Especially one that looked like a rank growth.
Shaking my head, I searched for my razor. The blade had rusted and I couldn't find any new ones.
“Guess, I'll leave the beard on,” I muttered. Naked, I walked from the bathroom to the bedroom, with the puppy trailing me.
I stopped on the threshold and blinked. I knew I had let things slide in the past months, but somehow I hadn't realized just how bad it had become. Sucking in a deep breath, I said to the puppy, “I'm not such a slob normally.”
The puppy yipped before it fought its way over heaps of washed or and unwashed clothes and unerringly ended in front of my drawer. It snatched the knob in its mouth and pulled, almost toppling over.
I gaped at it as it stuck its nose in my underwear, shoving pairs of boxers from one side to the other until it decided on one. When it presented me with its choice, I swallowed. It held a pair of my underwear, dark blue briefs with a golden waistband, which had been a favorite of Shane's favorite of mine.
In a hoarse voice I said, “When did you get to be so smart?”
The puppy wagged its tail and lumbered back to me.
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