Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: jump, live, game
I started when Hope jumped against my knees, barking. For him this was all a game, but for me? Taking him in yesterday had been the choice between living and giving up. I swallowed. Shane would've clocked me for ever having a thought in that direction. Then again, he remained dead, and I missed him every single minute of the day.
Hope dug his paws deep into my thighs, which elicited a pained grunt from me. “It's okay, boy.”
I drew in a breath in an attempt to collect myself. Hope wagged his tail and looked up at me with his ears perked. I ruffled his hair and even managed to smile down at him. His happy expression transformed into a questioning head-tilt.
I snorted. “You're not really a dog, are you? You're far too sensitive and... well, I don't know. You're odd.”
Hope pushed himself off my thigh, took two steps backward, and whirled around himself—all pushed up on his hind legs. I gaped at him. He barked, but it sounded more like laughter, especially when he went back on all fours. His tongue lolled out as he sat down, waiting for my reaction.
“Okay,” I said slowly. “I need someone to pinch me because obviously I'm sleeping and imagining a whole night and morning—in great detail.”
Hope huffed, then ambled over to me. Suspicion rose within me. “What are you up to?”
He yipped and I crouched down to pet him. Hope snuggled his head into my palm and I used my free hand to stroke the thick fur at his chest. Suddenly, he grabbed my hand with his teeth and I gasped in pain.
“Hey!” I protested. It didn't so much hurt as it stung. He also didn't let go. Since I'd never raised a puppy or had a dog I was at a loss. Had he gone mad? Or had he become dangerous? “Would you, um, mind?”
Hope let go of my hand, although he snatched it with his forepaws and licked over the reddened skin. Apprehension and confusion battled inside me and, since I didn't know how to react, I waited until he finished licking.
He peered at me, with the same expectant look I'd seen before. I frowned, puzzling about it when it struck me. “Oh, my God! You pinched me, right?”
Hope bounced against my chest, swishing his tail and barking. His enthusiasm knocked me flat on my ass. I wrapped his wriggling form in my arms, laughing. He understood everything I told him—everything. How was this possible?
When he'd calmed down, I cradled him in my arms and gazed at his face. His eyes reminded me of something—I just couldn't pinpoint what. I'd have to find out because something didn't sit right with me. Hope squirmed in my arms so I set him down. He nudged the phone I must have dropped at one point with his nose and I grabbed it before he had time to slobber all over it again.
“I still have no idea who you want me to call,” I confessed.
Hope sagged against me with a look that spoke of righteous exasperation. The corners of my mouth twitched into a smile. “I'm a piece of work, huh?”
He barked in agreement.
“How are we going to do this?” I asked. If I'd understood one thing in the last twelve hours, it was that I wouldn't be going anywhere if Hope decided against it. The sooner I found out the right person to call, the sooner I'd get out of the house.
The smile slipped from my face. I couldn't remember the last time I'd wanted to get out of the house. No, that wasn't right. I could remember—it had been before Shane's death. Unbidden tears welled up in my eyes and blurred my sight. The damn lump in my throat reappeared and I cursed, even though it came out as a croak.
Hope whimpered and I laid a hand on his trembling back. “Sorry, I'm a mess. We'll find your owner so you don't have to stick with me, okay?”
I ached as soon as the words had left my mouth. Hope howled as he threw himself against my chest, desperately trying to get underneath my sweater again.
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