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Man's Best Friend
by Anna Sidak



Sometimes I regret I wooed and won him. It seems a violation of an arcane principle, of never the twain shall meet, of separate worlds that never mesh. I think of wild animals, frozen against a backdrop of forest by a movie camera, faces immobile, ears alert! The heads of impala toys of the imagination, wild rye grazing their chins, delicate feet obscured by weeds. Suddenly they wheel, are gone, were never.

Remembering, I watch him enter the house, moving quietly. He reclines before the TV with surprising grace: just so the trained lion lies at his master’s feet in mock domestication.

At first, it was my idea to merely make his acquaintance. I don’t know why I say “merely.” The idea enchanted me. I moved slowly in his presence, spoke softly, called him by name, displayed all the nobility of character at my command.

The day came when he did not shy away at my approach. He held his ground and lifted his head just slightly, we exchanged a level gaze. I put out my hand and he did not move. I touched him gently and believed I saw a flicker of recognition in his eyes.

I congratulated myself. It is not everyone can tame one. I let our friendship ripen. I fed him chocolate doughnuts. He licked my fingers. He began to await my appearance. He began to advance toward me, often, as the days went by, with an over-abundance of enthusiasm. I learned to fend him off, to clearly reestablish our quiet companionship. This went on for some time.

Patiently, I outlined for him the boundaries of our relationship. I agreed to let him sleep in the house. I agreed to do the cooking.

There came a day when he made clear he was lonely. He had in mind to bring some of his own kind into our life, I see that now. Later, the small ones arrived with all their baggage. One by one I made friends with them, suffering some painful wounds in the process. I was not as patient as I might have been. I’d forgotten how slowly one must move, how soft the voice must be. They stayed with us a long time, then, one by one went away promising to write.

He, however, has never left. He moves through the house with lordly aplomb and growls without apprehension. He has learned to mimic me in many ways and will, on special occasions, dress for dinner.

Seldom do we converse, although I often say to him, “Close the door, lower your voice, take your feet off the sofa.”

Yesterday he remarked in startlingly human fashion that we have nothing in common, really. “We lack rapport,” is the way he put it. He seemed quite disturbed. He accused me of thinking only of myself, as though he were a piece of furniture, a household pet, or worse.

“How can you say it?” I asked. “I think only of you.”

He turned and snapped at me and was immediately contrite. He used his pocket handkerchief to staunch my wound.

“See what you’ve done,” I cried. “You’ve hurt me. Actually.”

He covered his eyes.

“You’re awkward, bumbling, silent and clumsy,” l said, quietly. “And that’s not all. You’ve turned on your best, your only friend.”

“Best? Only?” He seemed shattered. “Bitch!” he murmured, moodily. He began to weep.






About the Author

Anna Sidak's stories have appeared in New, Beyond Baroque, Bachy, Oasis, Snark Bite, In Posse Review, Pindeldyboz, Pacific NW Potpourri, and Linnaean Street. She lives in Southern California.