Once upon a time, I had a faithful companion who followed me around like a god … Oops, I’m seeing things upside down and inside out again; what I mean is, this companion followed me around like a dog, woofing and barking its way into every waking moment, and sometimes in my dreams as well, fitful and fleaful though they were. (Though sometimes, of course, they were gleeful too, like when I’d bitten somebody’s nose off, or sunk my teeth into a hand.)
And since they say that you and your dog eventually begin to look like each other, I began to sprout a few canines and my nostrils flared like balloons. Sometimes I kept my companion on a leash; other times it shot off down the street, with me panting behind, as I almost lost my arm. Did it ever stop? Oh yes, but only when it was hungry and wanted to devour me whole.
One day, feeling threatened, I took my faithful companion to a vet, who gazed, confused, at us, lapping and barking inside a single skin, and asked which of the two needed to be put away. It didn’t help that my companion and I pointed at each other simultaneously, and yowled. So the vet took matters in hand and decided to put me to sleep, or rather, take me to bed, and shed his white coat along the way.
I woke up one morning and found my faithful companion had died quietly in my arms.
There is still an emptiness within me where my friend used to rest its head, and the leash feels strangely slack, except when my new companion tugs at me with the weight of his hand.
But of course, my new companion is not quite so faithful to me. He is a vet, you see, and there are so many traumatised creatures baying in this world. He helps them all, for a price, naturally, while I, under his expert care, pretend to be perfectly well.
(First published in Stet)
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