Against the Dog
It is 3:33 and I am alone against the dog.
I’d been looking at sandals.
They’d have to be cheap sandals.
And the shop assistant was trying her best
to get the price down to something that was within our price bracket,
which was somewhere between shirt buttons and pocket fluff,
And the dog appeared at the end of the aisle.
And I saw it, and it went like this, like a movie crash zoom:
Sandals, shoes, boots, flip-flops – Dog.
And it didn’t have to be for me.
And I didn’t have to accept that I would need to run.
But I looked up at the figure still counting coppers and mumbling about “shitty shop assistants”
Whilst standing there under the gaze of a shitty shop assistant
And I looked back at the dog,
And we locked eyes.
And I accepted it.
I would run.
Around the cheap, knock-down price, last-chance-before-landfill shoe shop.
Like playing cat and mouse,
Only with an over-excited Alsation.
And, at 3:33am, sometimes she does nothing,
Because I know she did nothing,
Like that time with the wasps and the ice cream.
And sometimes she laughs,
Because only a stupid boy would run.
So perhaps, I think, as I wake, that’s when I learned not to.
I have always been alone against the dog.
We are Not to Use Words
We are not, I know, to use words like schizophrenogenic.
It is, if nothing else, unkind to lay the blame for everything I am at your door.
Repaired with parcel tape, as it is, after that moment of frustration that took you through the glass.
I expect you still have the scars?
Other children put up with similar interruptions and insults at 2 in the morning, every morning, and they’ve turned out fine.
So, it’s not entirely you, I know. There’s poverty and upbringing and that town – oh, that town.
When you wonder at why I get so stressed at a modern world that can – and does –
Bring you anything anywhen into your inbox, without any understanding of what might or might not be a “Trigger”,
And you wonder why my responses can be pissy or delayed or just Never Come At All,
It is because I lived with that consistent inconsistency and constant dread of interruption by ranting or rejection for years,
And I’m not exactly cook-a-hoop that this is how the modern world has turned out, too.
When you suddenly email an emoji, and only an emoji, out of the ether, after months and months,
And you expect me to react in the way that you, and only you, know will be appropriate to your very specific mood right at the second you pressed send,
But probably not at the moment I press reply,
You’re expecting me not to feel like I did when I’d hear you prowling on the landing at 2 in the morning, working yourself up to tell me again how much of a “fat-head” I am and how your life would have been so much better if you’d taken the pills and got into that very hot bath.
If I can’t not feel it when receiving a spam email from a perfect stranger,
There’s no way I’m going to manage it with you.
But, then, you did send the smiley emoji, didn’t you?
So I expect you already know.
Mike Hickman (@MikeHicWriter) is a writer from York, England. He has written for Off the Rock Productions (stage and audio), including 2018’s “Not So Funny Now” about Groucho Marx and Erin Fleming. He has recently been published in EllipsisZine, Dwelling Literary, Bandit Fiction, Nymphs, Flash Fiction Magazine, Brown Bag, and Safe and Sound Press.