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My Pet

          Answer (sort of) to exercise page 8*
      (Describe a pet, either real or fictitious, that you’ve never had.)

He’s around here somewhere, so watch where you step; though he mostly hides when someone else comes round and even I have trouble finding him at times. And I’m never easy until I do. I worry that I’ll kick him or sit on him if he’s hiding under the bed or behind a seat cushion. He doesn’t appear to be very durable. Look for a brown lump on the floor, though it’s best to search for three black dots: two eyes and a nose. If they follow you as you move, that’s him. How he got into the building I’ll never know; I just heard this rubbing against my door one afternoon and when I opened up he waddled into my apartment, and my heart.

What color is he? Brown, I think, like most wild animals, a brown-gray that changes with the light and blends in with everything, even my ratty furnishings. No, he didn’t make them that way. He doesn’t scratch, he digs. Luckily the landlord hasn’t seen any of the several holes he’s dug in the carpet. And I can’t break him of the habit even after making up a box of soil for him to root around in. Then again, he doesn’t poop or spray the house up and I’ve not seen any bugs since he moved in, so I’m guessing it’s a kind of equitable trade.

No, he never bits or scratches, and doesn’t make any rude noises or smells; though he has a musky aroma about him that lingers wherever he happens to curl up to sleep. He likes my lap best, particularly when I’m reading. As soon as he sees me plop down into a chair, curl my legs up, he totters over and looks up at me with the black dots of his eyes and wiggles his little nose. I guess that’s his begging-to-be picked-up stare. I gently scoop him up and let him settle himself as he likes, and when he stops fidgeting, I pick up a book and begin to read quietly aloud. He seems to like Mary Stewart and Ursula K. Le Guin best. And I know he’s listening for when I stop reading he looks up at me with his sad eyes as if to say, “What happens next?”

He purrs when he sleeps, goes in his box, but is not pleasant to watch when he eats, masticating noisily with his mouth fully open, maybe thinking that the act of eating is something to be shared. I tried to type him by taking his picture and showing it to a zookeeper, but she was as puzzled as I about what he was and where he came from. Something from Australia she thought and yet never discovered anything more about him, not even a photograph.

It occurred to me that I’ve never given him a name; nothing applicable seems to come to mind even after living with him for more than a year. I’m not even sure if he’s a he; but since I don’t know how to tell, what difference does it matter? If one day I find a few smaller ones tottering about I guess I’ll know for sure. How old is he? I don’t know; nor how long he will live. And I guess that part doesn’t matter, seeing as he never existed at all save for as a wish.

            copyright © 2013 by mari t.

* Ellis, Sherry, ed. Now Write! Fiction Writing Exercises from Today’s Best Writers & Teachers. New York. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. 2006. Print.

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