A response to a prompt from a writing workshop on 10/25/2011. The prompt asked readers to “describe a puzzling image, event, or memory.” The following is an un-revised rough draft:
Every evening was the same.
The sun set and I knew that soon, be it in minutes or hours, the dog would have to go out. On the surface, it sounds simple: Take the dog out. I just have to follow the three easy steps to having a happy collie and a clean rug:
1.) Open the door.
2.) Wait for the Dog
3.) Call him back.
It was the terror of calling him back that turned the evening task into a trial.
I opened the porch door. Kai scrambled from his corner and ran towards me.
I sent one dog out into the dark.
But what if one dog didn’t come back?
What if two, or three, or twenty dogs came back?
What if a thousand dogs came back?
I wiped my hands on my jeans. It didn’t matter if I was standing on the porch while the autumn wind sent leaves dancing around me, or if the warm summer rain pelted against my face. I would sweat just the same.
It happened every night.
Every night, there was a thousand dogs.
Every night there was one.
“Kai,” My voice broke the hush of the evening. “Come.”
Somewhere in the dark, nails clicked off the driveway. A collar jingled. Slow, easy breathing came out in short pants. Somewhere in the dark was one dog. He was invisible in the night.
Briefly, something cut through the security light at the edge of the yard.
That one, brief moment was enough to send a thousand dogs running towards me, each one vanishing into the paws of the next. They ran on the sides of the garage and flat on the ground. The dogs disappeared into one another, multiplying and dividing faster than numbers punched hastily onto a calculator. A thousand tails wagged and a thousand tongues lolled. They were infinite and they were one. They were coming towards me, faster now, urged onward by the porch light like moths to a flame.
Never would a thousand dancing dogs fit onto my porch.
I’d take a step back-
Just in time for one wet nose from one dog to press into the palm of my hand.