Fiction Friday #155 – A Shiver in the Darkness

For this weeks Fiction Friday, from Write Anything, I’ve decided to break the rules. I saw the opportunity to morph two different posts into one when I read this weeks prompt, “I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over”.

This piece is not a complete work of fiction and should serve as a warning to anyone considering bringing a pet into their home, especially a 50lb American Pit Bull Terrier.


Fiction Friday #155 – A Shiver in the Darkness

“I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.”

Before clicking off the light, I took one last look in the mirror. Teeth were brushed, face was washed, all there was to do was to make my way across the dark house and climb into bed. The day was no more stressful than any other, but the pillow seemed to call my name. I blinked through sandy eyes one last time before flipping the switch and making my way out of the bathroom.

Ever since adopting our dog, moving silently through the house at night has been difficult. Furniture placement was easily memorized, forgotten dog toys were another matter. Over the past few months I learned a very useful lesson when it came to traversing my home in complete darkness. I shuffled my feet across the carpet, doing more kicking than stepping.

This drunken slide, or so it must look, would allow me to kick toys rather than step down onto them. Who would have thought a dog could be just like a child when it came to toys. Each one brought a sense of pure joy to the animal. That was, until something else caught his eye, then he would discard it and move to something else. Leaving the item laying where it fell without a care in the world.

So tired, I want nothing more than to climb into bed and fall into a deep slumber. I manage to make my way to the bedroom without issue. Upon entering the room, the deafening silence of the hall is broken by the sounds of snoring. Our family pet slept soundly at my wife’s feet, snoring as loudly as any grown man.

I reach my side of the bed and drop my jeans and t-shirt to the floor. I seat myself gently onto the bed as to not disturb my wife. I kick off my socks and slip under the covers. Like usual, Syrus is like a boulder pinning the blankets to the bed. Too tired to fight for blankets this evening, I rest my head onto the pillow and make due with what I have. Sleep rushes in and claims me in mere moments.

I wake with a slight shiver. Back against my wife’s legs, paws pressed against my own, Syrus is in a dream world. The faintest of barks elude the dogs dreams and enter our bedroom. His dream appears lively, he looks happy, shifting gently in his sleep. Each movement pulls more of the covers from my bare skin and exposes me to the cool air.

I grip onto the blankets firmly and pull. My goal is to cover myself back up and drift back into the dream world with warmth. Instead, I manage to pull Syrus up onto my legs. The light barking ceases and snoring resumes. I fight back the urge to let out a bark of my own as the dogs full weight bears down on my legs.

This has gone on too long. Every night I wake in the dead of the night with a chill. I’m too tired, I can;t keep doing this every night. I want to send the dog to the floor but I know my wife likes the security of having our dog sleep at our feet. A solution comes to me in desperation. I know I shouldn’t.

“Syrus”. I whisper his name trying not to wake my sleeping wife. She needs all the rest she can get with our babe comfortably in her womb. He doesn’t budge, in fact he seems to snore louder at the sound of my voice. “Syrus”. This time louder. He responds with a slight groan followed by more snoring.

It isn’t working. I reach down and give the dog a gentle shake. More of the same, a groan followed by a snort. I shake harder and whisper his name louder. “Syrus!”. He slowly lifts his head to peer up at me through the darkness.

“I know its a mistake but lets go. Come here Syrus”. The sound of my voice causes my wife to stir while Syrus rises and stretches before trotting the length of the bed and seating himself near my pillow.

Finally, room to maneuver the blankets. I dwell on my thoughts for one final second before I lift the covers and tell Syrus “lets go, get under the blankets”. Without hesitating, the dog climbs under the covers and makes his way to the foot of the bed. As if he was as tired as I, he plopped down and curled into a ball. Before long his snoring resumed, not long after that I drifted off to sleep.

I knew it was a mistake the moment I allowed him under the blankets, but I was desperate. Every night since then he takes a seat near the pillows and waits for someone to allow him under the covers. The nights of his pulling off blankets has ended but a cold nose on bare legs has been a problem ever since.

Syrus - 5

Please visit the comment section, located at the head of this post, and leave me some feedback. I would greatly appreciate it!

14 comments On Fiction Friday #155 – A Shiver in the Darkness

  • I take this story is written from experience. I loved it. You have the dog’s character down pat. I could visualize the entire scene in my mind. The only problem was that I just finished reading last week’s story 5 minutes prior and I was expecting something horrific to happen at the end. Glad it didn’t.

    • Terry,
      This week I wanted to do something light and fun to follow last weeks bloody mess. I’m glad you enjoyed the story.

      One thing this piece has taught me is that writing in the first person isn’t as easy as it seems.

      Thanks for the comment

  • It’s funny how different people find different things hard – for me writing in the first person is much easier than 3rd.

    I liked this piece, I missed the intro so as I was reading it I was wondering if it was a true story. Is your wife also pregnant? If so congratulations 🙂

    There was one line that I had a little problem with –

    ”I shuffled my feet across the carpet, doing more kicking than stepping.

    This drunken slide, or so it must look, would allow me to kick toys rather than step down onto them.”

    Personally I think you’ve explained the kicking, so don’t need the second line, it’s telling when you’ve already shown. Although I love the ‘drunken slide’. Hope you don’t mind me pointing this out 🙂

    • I don’t mind you pointing it out at all, those things help shape future writing. I think you make a good point. I felt compelled to re-explain it because it didn’t seem clear the first time around.

      Yes, my wife and I are expecting. Our lives will be turned upside down in about seven weeks 🙂

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Excellent story. I could picture it all. Having a large dog myself I could relate with most of your story. Light and entertaining.

    Here’s mine:
    http://uncleteebooks.blogspot.com/

  • I got a good laugh out of this Walt.
    You could easily rework the tussle between master and mutt into a great comic piece. I also liked the line about the drunken shuffling.
    Writing in first person offers great insight from the character, but the use of tense needs to be consistent. Experiment with tense to see what feels more natural, either present or simple past. I tend to use simple past, adding -ed etc to the end of words as it still gives the idea of the action having just happened. Must check to see if my grammar is right – apologies if I am wrong.
    And congratulations on the soon to be new arrival. At least you’ll have the cigar picked out. I’ll be looking for the birth announcement. (By the way, can anyone explain why cigars are given out at the birth of a baby or is that just a Hollywood movie myth?)

    • Adam,
      I have a few stories floating around about my dog. He has done some pretty amusing stuff, thinking about them still puts s mile on my face.

      As soon as you mentioned using a consistent tense, I knew I was guilty without even giving it a seconds thought. One of the things I struggle with when writing first person is how I phrase parts of the story. At times I want to tell the story as if it is unfolding right then and there then I change gears, without realizing it, when it doesn’t quite work for a section of storyline.

      In regards to the cigars, I think its just a celebratory thing. I’ve been given a cigar on a couple of occasions by a new father. In just about every instance it was from someone who wasn’t a serious cigar smoker but just wanted to celebrate by handing out a cigar.

      I’ll probably hand out a few cigars after the birth but it will most likely only be to those that enjoy cigars. I hate to see them wasted.

      Its funny, as involved as I am in the cigar industry (as a consumer and a member of the press), I really have no idea what that celebratory cigar will be. Not yet anyway, lol

      Thanks for the comment

  • A fun story, definitely a break from blood and gore. I’m enjoying the prompt this week, as so many people find so many mistakes to make. Your story made me think of Marley and Me. Good job.

    • Shelli,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. I “blood and gore’d” myself out last week. I wanted to do something light-hearted and fun this week.

      Thanks for the comment

  • This reminds me so much of my dog growing up. He used to sleep on the king sized bed between my parents; sometimes in the middle of the night he’d dream of chasing bunnies and begin kicking. Sometimes kicking my mother off the bed 🙂
    Very good imagery, Walt. Made me laugh.
    Eileen

    • Eileen,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. It was fun to write and telling stories about my dog is easy, he is such a character.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Very nice! I was expecting a dog bite at the end where he woke Cyrus up. Took me a completely different direction and I like that. Good work.

    http://johnpender.net/2010/05/fiction-friday-155/

  • Walt, I totally forgot to check out your reply from last week. Congratulations, that’s great news 🙂

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