Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used a blow-dryer.
It took Marisa and I several minutes of stuttered words and stammered condolences before she breathed out noisily and asked, “What did you want to know?”
I opened my mouth but no words came forth. In the background, a blow-dryer awakened to life with a roar. Cringing, I drew back. Marisa yelled at someone to close the bathroom door and while the blow-dryer kept rumbling on, it was muted.
“What did you just say?”
I didn't inform her that I'd been as silent as a mouse. Instead, I cleared my throat, and blurted, “Shane isn't dead.”
Marisa sucked in air, which sounded somewhat like a deflating balloon. I could tell she was picking her words carefully, when she said, “Gil, I know you're grieving and—”
“No! Well, yes, of course, I did,” I interrupted her. “Just listen to me, okay? He said to call you and you'd understand. Well, he didn't actually call but shove game pieces around but I understood his words, so...”
I ran out of steam. After pinching the bridge of my nose, I stared down at Shane, who wagged his tail and barked.
“Is that... is that a dog there with you?” Marisa asked.
“Yes, um, no. That's actually Shane and he isn't a dog, he's a puppy. A German Shepherd puppy, I believe, although I'm no expert at this. He's got really big ears,” I rambled on.
Shane stepped onto my right foot and rose up on his hindpaws. He pushed his forepaws against my thigh and barked again.
“Oh my God!” Marisa exclaimed.
I didn't think God had much to do with the chaos that had become my life. “Please, Marisa, I know you didn't get along all that well, but he said you'd understand. Do you know a way for him to be a human again?”
Did she even believe me? Or would she call an ambulance right now? Although, she couldn't do that since she was still on the phone with me.
A harsh laugh erupted from her throat, startling me. “I knew this would happen. I told him it would happen. That his enemies would exploit his desire to stay here and have a steady relationship.”
“His enemies?” I echoed. “Where else would he have stayed? And what's so bad about a steady relationship? He didn't seem to have a lot of stable relationships.”
“No. No, he didn't. No one in our family has a lot of stable relationships. It comes with the territory.”
Confused, I rubbed my neck. The itch to start pacing grew by the second but I couldn't do anything, what with Shane sitting on my foot. I hunkered down to scratch him behind the ears. He wiggled between my legs and leaned against me.
“I have no idea what you're talking about. I only want to know how to get Shane back into his human form.”
“He can't go back!” Marisa shouted.
The blood in my veins froze and I gasped. I tightened my hold on Shane's left ear until he yipped and tried to pull away from my hand. I let go and he studied me from those dark eyes, which seemed to see so much more than what was obvious.
“Marisa, please. Since you're not telling me to get stuffed or to see a psychiatrist, you believe me. You know something I don't, and that is how to get the real Shane back. I need him back, okay? He's here. He's alive. He's just in the wrong body.”
“He might be safer in this form,” Marisa said.
“Safer from what?” I asked with a hint of exasperation. I hated riddles—always had. I doubted that fact would change any time soon.
“It's a long story.”
“Why don't you give me the short version? I'd like the ultra-short version because I only want to know how to get him back!” I shouted.
“Give me your address.”
“Give me your address—I don't have it——and I'll come to your place. I need to see Shane anyway,” she said, in a somewhat defeated tone.
For a moment, I felt guilt. The moment was short because I didn't get why she couldn't give me a simple answer to a simple question. I rattled off our address.
“It'll take me about two hours to get to your place. I'm going to get dressed. Don't go anywhere with him until I'm there,” Marisa said. The line went dead.
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