In the span of ten seconds my mother had moved on from my eating habits, fashion choices, and a lack of communication in the past couple months to my current state of singleness. For the most part, mother’s ramblings hinted strongly towards finding a man and settling down with school now wrapped up and a steady job underway.
“I am suggesting dinner with a couple of friends who may, or may not, bring along some company of your age.”
“In the male form,” I added, perhaps a little too coldly.
Mother was a plump, short woman. Her brown hair was always pulled up in some form of bun, particularly when she was getting ready to go out to do her gardening. More often than not she wore jeans with a t-shirt at home. Nevertheless, she never needed to be pushed to dress up and often did so when she went out to do her few errands. Brother called her a little plain. It was true that she was very dull in appearance. Her brown hair was faded when compared to the deep red hair both myself and my brother inherited from our father. Her age left its mark and despite it all she wore it with pride.
“I suppose. I don’t think anything will happen with your current attitude. It would be nice to see you happy and establish a good relationship. I am not asking for anything immediate, I would simply like to know that you are actively looking.”
“Mom, I finally finished school and, to tell you the truth, my new job takes up a lot of time. I don’t exactly have regular hours. Perhaps later when I am better accustomed to my work load and I could afford more time to do other things. I hardly have time for friends as it is.”
Desperate to end this conversation dominating my life over the last few months, I abruptly stood from the table and headed to the small counter. An electric kettle was seconds from whistling, as if it knew a break was needed in the small space. After having her two children move out, my mother had moved into a small two bedroom apartment and it was jammed pack with photos littering the walls, bookcases, and every surface one could imagine. It was clear the woman was proud of her children and her husband, who had passed away many years ago. Regardless of the healing process time offered, the subject was always a sore one everyone in the family avoided. Father was a hero. We were proud of him. It didn’t make his death any easier.
“Kale, you aren’t getting any younger,” mother started again. “I was married at your age and well on my way to having a child...”
The miscarriage mother had suffered a year after marriage trailed into nothingness. It was also something we didn’t speak of. In fact there were a lot of things I felt we could never discuss. When one thought on it, it was clearly a reason for the lack of communication between us at times.
“I am not saying I am avoiding the dating scene mom. If I run across someone who I deem acceptable then so be it. For now, I will not be taking an aggressive position in the matter.”
I didn’t look back at mother still sitting at the small table. It wouldn’t help the situation any. I knew behind my back mother was pouting her plump lips together and her dark brown eyes would be watering heavily. Another difference between us was eye color. Basil had mother’s eyes, dark chocolate lakes and he too was good at pouting. I had deep green, not even father could explain where the eye color had come from. I ignored the silence behind me. Mother’s pout was deadly. It was a habit I remembered being used on father many times. I busied myself with tea and replenishing the small plate with a couple homemade cookies for me and a few biscuits for mother.
“Well then, how is work going?” With the conversation now focused upon an easy topic I turned around and skillfully carried the two cups and the cookie plate back to the table.
It would be three days later when an idea would strike me. One that might chase away some of mother’s concerns. Or annoy her, which was equally acceptable in my agitated state. It didn’t take long for me to find the perfect companion who was dropped off by the next weekend. I knelt beside the white furry dog and stared into his deep blue eyes. The older gentleman who had dropped him off had told me only a name before leaving. I didn’t like the lack of information given, however, there was little I could do now. Slowly, as to not startle the animal, I reached out with the new collar, bought earlier in the week, in hand. The giant white beast gave a low growl so I stopped to stare at him for a moment.
“I won’t hurt you,” I stated calmly, feeling a little silly.
When the dog was quiet once more I tried again. This time I did not pause when I heard the growl and wrapped the collar around the neck of my pet. The black contrasted well with white, though the amount of fur concealed the collar a quite a bit. Anyone who saw him on street, who didn’t see a collar, probably wouldn’t approach him. He was too massive and scary looking and far from friendly. During my search I had wondered if having such a large dog would be a good idea in my tiny one bedroom apartment. When standing, his back was a bit higher than my waist; I wasn’t short, nor was I tall, so it was quite the height for him. I feared how much dragging he would do for he was certainly capable. With the proper training he would become a fine pet. I looked over him a little more closely. His ears pointed upwards and a small tuff of fur was gathered on each tip. His paws were easily the size of my hands. His eyes narrowed at me.
“Okay Lucas, are you hungry?”
In preparation for a new dog I had already placed a giant sized bowl of chilled water on the floor in the corner of the kitchen. Once I measured out a couple cups of food I placed the food dish next to the water and stood back. Lucas remained at his spot beside the door and didn’t budge. Patting my leg to entice the animal to come and calling him were both useless.
“It is there when you want it,” I said in defeat.
As I tidied I kept stealing glances at Lucas. His eyes seemed to follow my every move. Perhaps he was studying me I as much as I was trying to study him. It was silly to think a mere animal would be interested in my cleaning habits so I brushed it off as an overactive imagination. After dinner I sat in front of the television, watching a couple of my favorite Friday night shows. With the evening growing late I soon headed to the bedroom to change into a pair of light sleep pants and tank top. I walked past the end of the bed and looked at the giant pillowed dog bed I had recently purchased. My attention averted to the doorway to stare at Lucas still guarding the front door. Again I tried calling him with the same results as last time and figured it was better to give him time to adjust to the situation.
“Good night Lucas,” I whispered before climbing into bed. My last thoughts were the anticipation the next day would bring about better results with Lucas. A smile for the hope of tomorrow brushed across my face before sleep tugged deeply.
Morning came too quickly in my opinion. I had odd dreams again. They were so vivid and I didn’t always remember them. When they came I was always tired the next morning. I couldn’t lounge around in bed as I did on some occasions. I had Lucas now and it wasn’t like he could feed himself. I slowly drifted into a wakeful state and became conscious of a voice droning on in the living room. More alert I jumped from bed and took with me the hockey stick placed in the corner of my bedroom beside the bed. It was a birthday present from my brother. It reminded me briefly I was hoping my brother would visit in the next couple weeks. His birthday was around the corner. So far there was no word of a family gathering. I never imagined a hockey stick would be a good tool to help in the case of a robbery or whatever my visitor wanted. Peering around the room’s threshold to the living room I came to the conclusion I wasn’t hearing someone, it was something. Somehow I had forgotten to turn off the television and the news anchor was going over the recent happenings of the city. My immediate attention focused on the giant white dog sitting proudly in the middle of my couch, staring intently at the screen.
“Good morning Lucas, did you sleep on the couch? You know I made a bed for you in my room.” It was odd to speak to the dog like he was a person. I couldn’t help it, I wanted him to become accustomed to me as soon as possible and I hoped talking would help the development.
With the living room in order I moved back to the bedroom to change and placed the hockey stick back. I should probably use it for more than decoration, but I really wasn’t much into sports. I looked about my bedroom as I walked to my closet. It was on the smaller side. I had the double bed in the corner and a short dresser acting as nightstand next to it. The walls were rather bare, except for a mirror. The closet next to the bedroom door was stuffed packed with everything else I owned in clothing. When I reentered the living room, after changing, Lucas had moved back to the front door. I fetched the strong leash the previous owner had given me and swiftly attached it to the collar.
Conveniently there was a park a couple blocks away where I planned to take Lucas. On our way there I struggled to get Lucas to walk beside me. He didn’t tug me along but he was determined to take the lead. Since he wasn’t dragging me about, like I feared might happen, I was content to let him have his way in this. At the park we followed the walking trail, Lucas didn’t bother with sniffing around too much and it did seem out of place, perhaps he was still getting used to things. After taking care of business I tried to play with him. He wouldn’t fetch the ball, or tug the rope toy. He sat there simply staring at me as if I were crazy.
“If you don’t fetch, roll over, chase, or play at all, what do you do?”
As if too below him, Lucas didn’t even give me the time of day. His eyes were fixated on the line of trees in the distance, tail was curled around him and head held high. I took a moment before jokingly commanding him to sit. Lucas promptly stood on all fours. I knew then this dog was purposefully defying me. He wasn’t going to do anything I said. I didn’t let it bother me. I would remain positive and refused to give in. No matter how long it took, this dog would be trained and when I was determined to do something I made it happen.
On my way home I planned out my next step. I’d need to research the best way to train Lucas and what tips would help with large defiant dogs. Lucas was walking in front again. Without success I pulled on the leash to get Lucas to step back. It was like a fly hitting a brick wall, he couldn’t feel the tugging. I stopped walking and when he stopped I tried to get him to at least stand beside me. He wouldn’t. It was in these moments I came to understand this dog had come to me for a reason. After all, he would become my new project and I was certain there wouldn’t be a dull moment.
“Okay Lucas, you win this battle, if only because you take up so much room. Logically it would be easier for others to pass on the sidewalk if you were walking in front of me,” I reasoned out slowly. “Let’s go home and have breakfast.”