Category: Prompts

The Amateur

The second writing prompt from October 25th. The prompt asked us to pick a job and right about a struggle, either in or out of the workplace. I chose an amateur dog-trainer who clearly has no idea what they’re doing.


Jobs are absolutely great when you perform them at work. It’s when you start to do your job outside of work that becomes a problem.

The German Shepard was sitting on my bed. While I knew that, technically, it was the guest room bed, for the duration of my stay it was my bed. The dog stretched out, uncurling his toes and digging his claws into the floral print comforter. Already the spot was littered with brown fur, a light dusting on the sheets like snow on a car window.

“Max,” I addressed the dog, using my ego to inflate my voice. I was a badass, an alpha, and I wouldn’t let some spoiled German Shepard lay on my bed when I had jetlag.

The dog lifted his head in my direction, his brown eyes boring into my own. He arched an eyebrow, then yawned lazily, his cocky expression showing that, while he looked at me, he really didn’t give a damn what I wanted.

“Down.” I pointed to the floor for emphasis.

The dog put his head back on the bed and closed his eyes.

That son of a bitch!

“Max! Down!”

He rolled over and put a paw over his face. I clenched my fists. The dog gave a contented sigh, clearly enjoying his spot on my bed. I eyed the comfortable pillows and soft, downy blanket with the intensity a starving man looks at a cupcake.

Dogs don’t belong on the furniture.

I grabbed him by his collar and gave a tug, trying to do this the easy way. He rolled to face me and we stared into each other’s eyes. He tucked his paws underneath him and started to rise.

In an ideal world, he would have responded to the tug and plopped to the floor. In an ideal world, there’s no such thing as a pissed off German Shepard, either.

The shepherd launched himself at me.

One hundred thirty pounds of fur crashed into me. I fell backwards, my head slamming into the floor with a crack. The impact knocked the breath out of me and a spam of pain shot through me when I tried to inhale.

I ignored the gasping, wheezing sounds coming out of my mouth and grappled to push the dog off my chest.

He snapped at me, spittle flying from his jaws and hitting my face. I pushed his head out of the way, but he snapped it back.

What resulted was almost a silent battle.

With my breath knocked out of me, I couldn’t call for help. I wouldn’t call for help even if I could, though. I couldn’t stomach the thought of Aunt Lindsey’s smirk as she had to help me yet again. Or maybe I couldn’t stomach the thought because I heavy paw rammed me right in the gut.

The shepherd didn’t bark, but the snap of his jaws was way too close to my face. I pushed his head away and struggled to get my feet under me. I was almost on my hands and knees when he tore into my sleeve and shredded the fabric right off. Damn dog.

               I made a grab for my sleeve, trying awkwardly to use the same hand to yank it out of his mouth while my other fought for his face. He shook his head to dislodge my hand, ripping the sleeve right off. He jumped upwards and swiped a paw. His nails scratched my face, my cheek burning with the familiar sting as blood welled forth.

 I was stunned for just a moment, but it was all the time he needed to drop my first sleeve and make a grab towards my other, still-attached sleeve.

I shouted and dismay and yanked my arm away, immediately twisting to put the dog in a headlock. He squirmed and we crashed into the dresser together, ignoring the crash of china as Aunt Lindsey’s favorite vase crashed to the floor.

I was starting to gain the upper hand when the door opened. Max literally gained my hand and had it crushed in his jaws.

“What’s going on in here?” Aunt Lindsey asked, wiping her hands on her apron as she surveyed the wrecked bedroom.

I had a mouthful of dog-ear and couldn’t answer.


A Thousand Dogs

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.