Length: 682 words
Zsiga had always wanted a puppy growing up. It wasn’t that anyone in the house was allergic, it was just that his parents had never liked animals much, and no matter how he begged they didn’t let him have so much as a goldfish. Perhaps it had been for the best, he now thought. He wasn’t sure he should be responsible for any living being other than himself.
That didn’t keep him from fulfilling a part of the childhood dream when the old lady down the street asked him to look after her 2-year old Labrador retriever while she was out of town, though.
“Stop, Maisy, stop!”
Maisy the Labrador was chocolate brown and 60 pounds of pure, unadultered joy. She pounded off into a shrubbery after a startled hare with force that nearly dislocated Zsiga’s shoulder while he desperately clung to her leash, which did not slow her down in the least. His yell was abruptly cut off as she pounced into the stream and took him with her.
As a child, Zsiga had loved the backyard and the shrubbery that separated their property from the small muddy stream he’d once called a river. Now, at 27 rather soggy years old, he found he rather wanted to revise his opinion.
He spat out what felt like half the river and barked, “Maisy!” To his amazement he was still somehow clutching the leash. Maisy looked thoroughly pleased with herself, despite having lost the hare, and wagged her tail at him. A pair of children that Zsiga recognised as their nearest neighbour’s giggled as they cycled over the bridge and waved at him gleefully as they went.
“We’re going, Maisy. Follow,” he muttered darkly and clambered back to the shrubbery.
Béla burst into laughter and nearly fell off the patio when he saw them step out of the bushes. Maisy’s tail wagged harder and sent water in all directions. Zsiga scowled and mopped wet hair off his face, glaring daggers at Béla.
“Glad to see someone’s having fun,” Zsiga shouted, which earned him a grin.
“I thought you liked swimming,” Béla said. His grin widened as Maisy shook herself and added another layer of awful to Zsiga’s already ruined clothes.
There was rustling and Béla pulled out a bag of dog treats, and Maisy’s ears perked up at once. Zsiga sighed and took off her leash. He’d just rinse her off with the garden hose later.
“Go on, you rascal. Nothing I say now will convince you that your trick back there was a bad thing.”
Maisy trotted up the stairs to the patio and sat down obediently, waiting for a dog biscuit. Béla dangled one in front of her nose and said, “shake.” He shook her paw when she offered it and let her have the treat.
“You know what, Zsiga, you’re right,” he said while Maisy finished her treat. “We should definitely get a dog.”
“This is the one time I want you to say that all my ideas are horrible, and you just failed me.”
Béla laughed again. Maisy chose that precise moment to attempt to grab the bag of snacks off his hand. The bag tore open as Béla tried to yank it back, sending a rain of dog biscuits flying in every direction. Maisy looked like Christmas had come early; she snatched a biscuit mid-air and tore after the others as they landed clattering on the patio and beneath the table and the chairs.
All except one. It flew in a great arc through the open doorway and straight into the living room.
Zsiga saw Béla’s eyes widen during the split-second it took for the fear of god and dog alike burrow in his heart.
“Maisy, no,” Béla started, but too late. Maisy had already pounced after the biscuit and sprinted through the doorway; her paws skittered on the linoleum and sent the biscuit shooting away from her. She barked and sprinted after it, overjoyed, tracking mud and dirty water all over the floor.
Zsiga and Béla exchanged a look and dashed after the dog-shaped hurricane as one.