Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: "Hand me that, will you?"
The puppy dropped the briefs at my feet and stared at me expectantly. I didn't trust my voice. When I lifted the briefs, my hands were shaking.
“I'm not sure this is a good idea,” I whispered.
With a huff, the puppy plopped on his butt. He leaned his head against my shin, waiting. Or at least it seemed like waiting to me. Maybe it was just bored. I remained rooted to the spot, fiddling with the waistband of my briefs and swallowing against a series of small lumps in my throat. Oh, how I wished my throat wouldn't close up all the time! Okay, not all the time, because sometimes, just sometimes, I wanted the slight pain, to remember what I'd lost.
A nudge from a cold and wet nose against my knee startled me. I gasped and jumped backward a step, which wasn't one of my brightest ideas. Since the puppy still rested on my feet, I lost my balance and landed flat on my ass.
The puppy whined as I tried to wheeze through the sudden pang of pain. Grunting, I rolled onto my knees and rubbed over the sore spot on my ass. It took me a moment to realize why it felt so weird to me. I'd been well-toned before Shane's death. Now I felt bony, something I'd never been in my whole life.
“Probably should've eaten from time to time, eh?” I asked the puppy without expecting it to answer.
The puppy's answer to everything seemed to consist of licking my face. For a moment I indulged it then pushed it gently aside. During my fall I'd lost hold of the briefs, and they'd landed on a heap of clothes. I gestured toward them and said to the puppy, “Hand me that, will you?”
My eyes bulged when the puppy bounced over to my briefs, pushed his nose into one leg, and with a triumphant look on his face carried it over to me. My heart hammered in my chest and I didn't know whether I wanted to cry or to laugh. I ended up doing the latter.
After pulling my briefs off the puppy's face, I tugged them on, ignoring the nagging guilt. The puppy stamped its forepaws on the ground and barked before it danced around me, wagging its tail so fast that I feared it had developed a life of its own.
“All right, all right. I'm guessing you're happy now.”
Seconds later, my arms were filled with a wiggling mass of brown and black fur. Laughing, I managed not to topple over. I didn't, however, succeed in getting out of this affectionate tumble without scratches all over my chest.
“Enough, already,” I cried out, as I cradled the puppy in my arms.
It yawned and I rubbed its belly. My gaze traveled along the pup's stomach and I smiled when I found a few dark spots, like the kind you'd find on a Dalmatian.
“Oh, so you're a boy, hmm?” I noticed after a while. The pup simply pulled his forepaws further up to his head to expose more of his belly to me.
“I'm assuming you have a name already, but I can't just call you pup, right? Shane would have a fit if I did,” I pondered aloud. A gasp followed my declaration. It was the first time I'd uttered Shane's name aloud since his death. It shouldn't make such a difference, but it did.
I stumbled to my feet, with the puppy in my arms, and sat on the edge of the bed. The puppy looked at me from large, liquid eyes. I forced a smile on my face. “You'd better get used to my sentimentality. Or maybe not. We still need to find your owner.”
The puppy shook his head, then slid off my lap. Immediately, I reached out for him and scratched behind his ears. “Okay, how about Lucky?”
My suggestions received another head-shake. I sighed. “I should probably get checked out. I'm talking to a dog as if it can understand everything I say.” After drawing in another breath, I asked, “How about Happy? You sure are a happy guy.”
This time I received a growl. “Hey, I've never named a puppy!” I mulled some ideas over but always ended up with the same conclusion. “Okay, the name I'd like isn't really fitting for a boy but... how about Hope? Because that's what you gave me and, even if it's only for a short time, I'm grateful for that.”
The puppy—no, Hope—leaped into my arms, barking his agreement.