I can't stand the sight of you. Your very presence annoys me. I'm sorry, but I just don't want another reminder of how careless I've become. And I don't want, can't take, one more thing to worry about.
So off you go, fingernails. See you in a few weeks. Maybe by then I'll have the time and the money to treat you the way you deserve. (CLIP CLIP!)
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
As soon as she walked through the front door, I told her.
“You bought what?” My mother’s eyes bulged wildly. “Where is it?”
“In the kitchen,” I responded. She rushed past me to see if this abomination was really true.
“Ay!” I heard her exclaim a few seconds later, a sound mixed with both disbelief at what I’d done, and surrender at what stood before her.
Who could resist my new puggle puppy’s soulful gaze and sweet demeanor? His soft fawn fur, which wrinkled at the top of his little head? His tiny floppy ears?
My dad, apparently, could.
That night, he sat in his usual chair at the head of our 6-seater dinner table, his eyes giving me a deadly stare over the top of his intertwined fingers. My mother was in the kitchen, taking her time preparing his food, wisely staying out of it.
“Why did you buy a dog, Cindy? You know that I don’t like dogs,” he said in his piercingly steady voice.
I stood directly across from him at the opposite end of the table, close to the open doorway leading to the kitchen, just in case I needed a quick escape route. The front door was about fifteen feet behind me, but it was closed and locked, not suitable for my purposes. “I’ve always wanted a dog,” I began. “You bought me a dog for my 15th birthday, so why can’t I have one now?”
“And what happened with that dog? Do you remember? You couldn’t take care of him, and we had to give him away.”
“You and mom took the fun out of it! You wanted me to keep him in the kitchen the whole time. I couldn’t even play with him in my room!” I put my hand on the chair in front of me and focused on keeping my tone and volume in check. My father did not respond well to attitudes or yelling. “Besides, that was 7 years ago. I’m more responsible now.”
He shook his head slightly, several times. “Get that dog out of here. I don’t want dogs in my house.” This, I knew from years of experience, was his final answer.
I took a deep breath, having prepared for this very moment. “Well then, that’s fine. I guess I’ll have to take my dog and move out.”
My father was silent, the lights from the chandelier hanging above the table creating shadows over his tense face. “So you’re just going to leave? Where will you go?”
“I don’t know. I’ll have to look for an apartment that accepts dogs, I guess.”
He continued to sit there, thinking. My mother made noise with her pots and pans in the kitchen to hide her eavesdropping. The brass clock on the wall next to me ticked away the seconds loudly. Back in my room, a puppy whined and scratched at the closed door.
Finally, my father spoke. “What I don’t like is that you’re forcing me to accept this dog. You didn’t even ask. You bought it while we were on vacation, and now you’re forcing me to accept this dog, or else you’ll leave the house.”
“I’m not forcing you to do anything,” I said, stepping back and leaning my hips on the back of the dark leather loveseat behind me. “I’m saying that since you won’t let the dog stay, and I don’t want to give him up, my only option is to move out with the dog. I don’t want to go, but you leave me no choice.” I kept my eyes down as I said this, watching my foot play with the edge of the area rug that divides the dining room from the living room. I prepared myself for yet another one of his long silences.
“Well,” my father said matter-of-factly, after about two minutes. “I can’t stop you from leaving.” He finally lowered his hands from in front of his face, elbows still on the table, placing one arm on either side of his placemat.
I stood there for a few more seconds, and then shrugged my shoulders slowly. “Okay,” I said.
I turned in slow motion and walked out, passed my open-mouthed mother in the kitchen, and went back to the puppy waiting impatiently in my room.