Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: I'm damned if I know!
Total silence followed the crash from the living room.
A panicked shriek answered my call. I hurried out of the bathroom, all kinds of horrible scenarios running through my head. What if Hope had hurt himself? What if he hurt himself real bad?
My pulse sped up, and breathing became an issue, even though the distance was short. Somehow I staggered into the living room, where I stopped, blinking at the scene that greeted me.
Hope must've climbed the shelves where some books, but mostly board games, lived. Shane hadn't been much of a reader—although he loved to lie down with me and have me read stories to him—but he'd been enthusiastic about board games. We'd often spend whole days playing, especially in autumn and winter. I hadn't been as much into the games as Shane, but it made him happy—and horny. I smiled at this memory, then realized I still didn't know where Hope was.
I lifted my gaze and found the books still properly stacked. Only the board games and their contents were scattered all over the floor. Hope hung with his forepaws on the top shelf, struggling with his hind paws to pull himself up completely.
“Hang on there!”
Hope barked, which somehow sounded as if he said, Dude, what do you think I'm doing?
I rushed toward him, mindful of the game pieces and cards strewn everywhere. Hope pedaled wildly with his hind paws while his forepaws left marks in the shelf from his fight to stay there. I grabbed him and cradled him to my chest. He wagged his tail and pushed his cold nose into my ear before he licked my face.
“Okay! Okay, it's fine. You're fine, aren't you?” Hope barked in agreement while I carefully picked our way out of the debris. “This'll take hours to sort out. Shane would've had a fit.”
Hope gazed down at the chaos around us, then shook his head. As soon as we left the danger zone he struggled, so I put him down. He ran straight into the scattered games and pushed pieces and bags around with his nose. I groaned. Hadn't I just rescued him?
In my sternest voice, I said, “Hope, get over here. These are not toys for you! They're small pieces and you could—”
I broke off when I realized he could choke on the tiny pieces. Hope, of course, didn't listen to me and kept inspecting everything. With less carefulness than before, I walked after him. When I reached him, he was busy pawing at a closed Scrabble box that had survived the tumble.
I snatched Hope's neck, intent on pulling him in my arms, when he whirled around, growling and baring his teeth. Surprised, I let go of him.
He ignored me. He also increased his efforts to open the box, which he accompanied by snarling. I crouched down next to him. “Do you want that box? Do you want it open?”
Hope stamped his right forepaw on the box. He barked and looked at me expectantly.
I sighed. “I'm damned if I know what the hell I'm doing or what the hell you think you're doing!”
Hope lowered his head and sniffed at the box. I expelled a long breath before I pushed him aside and opened the box. Hope barked and darted his snout toward the cotton bag with the tiles. He snatched it and carried it over to the coffee table, cautiously stepping around the items on the ground. There, he jumped on the table and tugged at the strings that tied the bag.
I followed him, frowning. “You're one weird dog. Here, let me help you.”
After clearing the table, I opened the bag and asked, “Want me to dump the tiles on the table?”
Hope swished his tail from side to side and woofed. I tipped the tiles out, curious as to what Hope intended to do with them. He seemed to be looking for single tiles with his ears perked up and his whole body speaking of a great inner tension. He couldn't seriously know the letters, could he?
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