Monday, December 16, 2013

ANIMAL TALK -- Carolyn's FANTASY entry in Thousand Prompts Contest



Carolyn Chambers Clark

I'm taking my dog for a walk—or rather, she's taking me. She's a Swedish Elkhound and stronger than I am. My arm is straight out in front of me and although I'm yanking back, I can feel her pulling against my shoulder joint.
"Slow down, Lina!" I shout, but she keeps on going.
Very strange. She's never acted this way before.
She looks a little like a wolf and has tightly curled her tail like she means business. When she's relaxed, her tail is softly curled or straight back. That tail and her quick stride make me think she's either in a hurry to find a place to pee or is hoping to meet that cute Doberman down the street.  Her ears are erect as if she's listening for something—probably the Doberman's low bark.
I know she understands what I'm saying, but sometimes I really wish I could understand what she means.
Lina's strutting her stuff and making her double coat of grey, white and some black look glossy and stiff. She has the most beautiful brown eyes, when she's looking at me in adoration, but not so much right now, when she just glances back at me and tugs on the leash as if to say, "Hurry up, slow poke. I've got a date."
The dog shakes her white muzzle at me as if I'm not to be believed. She's usually calm and affectionate with me, but I've seen her dominate an Irish setter and make him lie on the ground, totally submissive. I took her out in the woods once, and she's a great hunter and didn't even flinch when Dad shot his gun at a duck she'd cornered.
She usually loves to please me, but today, she's determined to get somewhere and fast. Maybe she just needs more exercise.
I guess those sled dogs are built for speed and strength, not that I don't lift weights and play tennis a couple of times a week, but Lina is still stronger. Hmm...maybe she needs to be brushed. Her coat does look awfully thick.
Even though I've been teaching her to heel and lie down, right now, she's pulling on her leash and making me almost run down the street in my small Wisconsin town. I guess I'm just lucky we're going downhill toward Lake Superior, and not up.
"Slow down, Lina. This isn't a race."
She glances back at me and narrows her eyes as if she thinks I'm not too bright.
Lina has always been a highly intelligent dog, sometimes smarter than I am, like the time I forgot to lock the gate on the porch and she got out and got pregnant. Of course, the vet goofed when I took her in to see why she wasn't eating and seemed moody. He said she had a tumor and needed surgery. Stupid me went along with his diagnosis. If I knew then what I know now, I would have gotten a second opinion.
When I went back to pick her up after surgery, the vet told me she'd been pregnant, but the puppies were too young to survive.
I feel so sorry for her. Now, she'll never be able to experience being a mother. Then again, I guess there are too many dogs on the planet already, but none as beautiful and smart as Lina.
She starts a slow growl that turns into a voice that reminds me of my older sister, Elle. "Yes, and that wasn't the only mistake he made. When he put me in a cage with a male Labrador, I had to wrestle down that retriever before he'd let me alone."
Heart pounding, I stop abruptly and so does Lina. "Who—who said that?"
She turns her head around so I can see her mouth move. "I did, Tootsie. Don't you think we dogs know what's going on? I could tell you some stories that would make your hair stand on end."
I yank on her leash and wonder if I took my mom's anti-depressant pills instead of my multi-vitamin this morning. I think I read somewhere they could make you hallucinate. "What? What? Dogs can't talk—at least not on this planet."
"My dear girl, where have you been? You didn't take your mother's pills. And here's another thing. If you didn't spend so much time swooning over that Neanderthal captain of the football team, you'd listen to me once in a while. I can sniff out a loser and he's one for sure."
I reach down and pet her head. "How could I listen to you? You've never talked to me before."
Lina strains against the leash."Puff, I say. I have. At least I've tried to, but it's only now that you've been able to hear me."
"Don't you think that's odd, that I can only hear you now?" My mouth is so dry by now. I blink and pinch myself and try to figure out if I'm dreaming all this.
All red and beautiful, a male cardinal flies down out of oak tree and nearly gets tangled in my French braid. Somehow, he flutters by my ear. "Listen to Lina. She's an all right dog. She lets me sit on her head when that evil cat is around. Lina protects me from all kinds of meanies." The cardinal flies away, back to the top of the twenty-foot oak at the end of the block.
I'm shaking. "What is this? Birds can talk, too?" I stare at Lina as if she's going to answer.
She does. "My dear, all animals have bigger brains than you humans believe. Why look at how the dolphins at Sea World outplayed your best chess player."
"They did? They have?"
Lina shakes her head at me. "You should keep up with the news. Humans have always downplayed our intelligence and used us for pack animals, lab experiments, pistol practice, food and worse. I wouldn't be speaking to you at all if you weren't a good person and hadn't fed me organic treats and given me a cotton pillow to lie on."
"Thank you, but what's different now? How come I can hear you?"
Lina shakes her fur and uncurls her tail a bit. "That I don't know. It's not every day that a bird talks. Something is up and you better find out what, because I sense a small uprising in the near future." (1076 words)

Would you read a novel that started this way? Why or why not? What would have to be in it to hold your interest?

No comments:

Post a Comment