96%

Submitted into Contest #121 in response to: Write about someone in a thankless job.... view prompt

22 comments

Fiction


Driving down the highway, she passes an eighteen wheeler. It has a large yellow sign plastered to the back side: Come join our team! Customers report that they are 96% satisfied with us!


“Did you just read that sign?” She asks her daughter. “They think 96% is something to brag about? They are OKAY with 96%? I don’t think I would want to work for a company where the customers aren’t 100% satisfied.”


“Mom, you’re joking, right?” her daughter turns the radio back up to ear deafening, thus ending the conversation.


“I’m not kidding, kiddo, what do you mean?” she shouts over Billie Eilish.


“None of your ‘customers’ are satisfied. You have horror stories. How many times have you had your bulletin board ripped down? Just the other day you said all of the books were thrown off your bookshelves and had to be reshelved...again.”


Mom turns the radio off. “No, this isn’t a matter of satisfaction. Right or wrong. This is a child. That child who threw the books? She is hurting. She is getting out her anger and frustration in the only way she knows how. She is little and doesn’t have the words to use right now. Every behavior is a communication. We just need to listen. I don’t care about the books. Those are just things. Let her throw, toss, push, pull all she wants or needs. She isn’t hurting anything by going into the book room and emptying those shelves. It’s a safe space for her to work out some feelings. I am sorry that I didn’t make this distinction to you; I just told you the story of her emptying the shelves. I didn’t share her background of abuse because I was protecting her privacy, and sheltering you from the evils of the world. I was wrong. I should have been more clear. Furthermore, once the shelves were completely empty, she slowly and methodically reshelved each and every book neatly and hugged me tightly. She told me she was sorry and that she loved me. I echoed the same words right back at her. It may look like my ‘customers’ aren’t satisfied, but, in some small way, I like to think they are.”


“You done now? You spend more time thinking about the kids you have than the kids you made, mom. Maybe I’m not satisfied either,” her daughter said as she turned the radio back up and turned to look out the passenger side window.


I sighed from the back seat where I dozed in the warmth of the car. That last comment hit a nerve. I could see how mom’s knuckles turned white on the steering wheel. She slumped a bit lower in her seat. Her cheeks turned pink and her eyes got real wet. The radio stayed loud for a long time. What is this “satisfied” anyway? Am I satisfied? 


My days are pretty much the same. The routine is always the same. I wake mom up with a very enthusiastic good morning greeting. Some days are more loud than others, I agree, but I am always just so eager to see mom and to make sure we are all ready to start our days together. We need to be on time or the “Mean Mom Voice” will start barking orders at everyone.


Breakfast is served, typically by mom. She knows I can’t do it, as they keep everything out of reach. And, I never complain about what is being given to me. I eat every last bite without uttering a single whine or asking for something different. I've heard the others ask and seen the result. It isn't pretty. We eat what mom serves or we get that withering stare. And then the girls have to get their own bowl of cereal and cut up their own fruit slices. It must be difficult because the girls make such faces and fusses about having to make their own breakfasts! Mom makes it all look so easy; but it must be hard with all that cabinet door slamming and pouting. The girls don't complain very often.


I spend some time running around getting under foot while everyone else is getting ready, being told to go play while they get ready for work and school. I try to hide their shoes behind the sofa and car key in my dog dish, but they are on to me. It’s a long time to be away from mom and my sisters when they go off to work and school. I miss them when they are gone. The music is gone. The laughter is gone. Their voices are missing. The house is so quiet. 


I have to protect the house from invaders. Do you even know how many people try to come into the house every day while they are away? There are chipmunks, rabbits, mailmen, delivery men, other dogs, and cats. One time some lady with some books tried to get in the front door. I barked and barked like I had rabies, foam and all until she left the front porch, papers and bookmarks flying in every direction. 


But when they are home, I am told to “stop barking” and “go lay down” each time I try to protect our house. I don’t get it. Am I a dog or am I not? Where do I fit into this family? To bark or not to bark? 


And don’t even get me started on the sofa issue. I’m allowed to lay on this chair, but not on that sofa? Why? I like all of the sofas. They are all so comfortable. I don’t care about fur and furniture (it is called “fur”niture for a reason, am I right or am I right?). And this thing you call a vacuum cleaner, that thing is loud and scary anyway. My fur is just adding an extra layer of fluff to the sofa when I shed it. Don’t worry about it. There’s no use trying to keep up with cleaning. Face facts. I shed 365 days a year. It happens.


Speaking of “it happening”...yep, at least I am house trained. I'll let you know when I need to go outside. I know you get frustrated when I need to go outside a dozen times in an hour. Hey, sometimes ya gotta go when ya gotta go. Sometimes I eat something that I shouldn’t have eaten, like that cat food that you left out. You know it gives me diarrhea. You shouldn’t leave that dish out where I can reach it. Up on that shelf. In the upstairs bathroom. Behind the closed door. You know my nose can sniff it out. 


I’ve given you so many reasons to thank me: protection, not pooping in your house, adding an extra layer of warmth to your furniture - and an excuse to not clean as I am just going to keep shedding anyway, a morning alarm clock to make certain you are never late for work, even on weekends and holidays. 


There you are, I am 100% satisfied. You didn’t make me, but I am satisfied in my job of providing you with my love and protection and affection. No need to thank me. It’s all in my line of work. I was born to serve.


Speaking of love and affection, I feel the need to hop up in the front seat right now and lick some faces.


"Hey you, you silly dog, what are you doing up here?" her daughter giggles at the wiggling fur ball on her lap. "Thank you for the kisses."


When mom reaches over to pet me, their hands come together for a brief moment. I feel three tight squeezes. I know what these mean; and the thankless become thanked.





November 21, 2021 13:25

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22 comments

Francis Daisy
21:04 Nov 21, 2021

Do I need to go back to the mom/daughter in the story or just leave the ending as it stands? Any suggestions?

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Daniel Hayes
06:35 Nov 22, 2021

This was just fantastic Francis! I absolutely loved it. The humor was spot on funny, and I giggled out loud often. My favorite line is: (it is called “fur”niture for a reason, am I right or am I right?) - This was brilliant. I love they way you inject humor into your stories, it's so good! As far as the Mom/daughter aspect, I think you should do what you feel is right. I think the ending is perfect, so if you add anything I wouldn't change the ending. ;) Great job as always!!! :)

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Francis Daisy
09:48 Nov 22, 2021

Oh, I am so happy that my writing had you laughing! This made my heart sing. What a great compliment. Funny enough (no pun intended), I did just change the ending before I read your comment. So now, of course I am second guessing myself (third, fourth, seventeenth guessing). I don't even remember now what the original ending was exactly. I did wrap it back around to the mom and daughter as it just felt unsettled to me to leave them hanging in the car scene. If you are back on and see this, I'd love to know what you think. Thank you!

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Daniel Hayes
17:06 Nov 22, 2021

Hi Francis, I love the new ending, I think it was a great edition and it completes the whole narrative. Super-cool!! :)

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Francis Daisy
19:41 Nov 22, 2021

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Cookie Carla🍪
18:17 Dec 09, 2021

Hi Francis!! I came after stalking Akshara and your comments😁 You give some good advice and feedback on stories. Could you possibly read my story "Day 99" and tell me what you think?

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Francis Daisy
03:09 Dec 10, 2021

Oh my goodness, you flatter me! <blush, blush> Of course I will take a look at your story, but I am not certain I am the best to give advice or feedback. I'm not really a writer...I just make stuff up as I go along! :)

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Cookie Carla🍪
14:36 Dec 10, 2021

Thank you :)

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Kendall Defoe
04:24 Nov 29, 2021

I think it works the way it is. The reader will fill in all the blanks. I really like this one, FD!

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Francis Daisy
12:18 Nov 29, 2021

Thank you so much! :) This is one of my favorites too!

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02:28 Nov 28, 2021

Great tribute to our BEST FRIEND!!! Very inspirational.

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Alex Sultan
21:16 Nov 25, 2021

I like the ending to this story and the twist on the narrator. The humour was great-especially in the dialogue. '“You done now?' was my favourite part. I think the ending is fine as is. I would however try to break apart some of the bigger paragraphs at least into two. It'd keep the flow of everything a bit easier to read.

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Francis Daisy
14:39 Nov 26, 2021

Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. I was considering breaking apart that one super long paragraph when the mom goes on and on to her daughter, but I kind of wanted it to sound like a mom. Going on and on to her daughter in a car. That's kind of what parents do to their children when they have a captive audience in the car; they just blah, blah, blah. And their child puts their earbuds in or crank up the radios and tune out. Does this make sense? Or did I just ramble on in ANOTHER long paragraph? :) UGH!

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Alex Sultan
16:33 Nov 27, 2021

I do think it makes sense! I totally understand what you're going for, and you get the idea across well in the writing. You could try breaking the dialogue/rant into two? Have it in two separate paragraphs broken apart for emphasis or something like that.

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Francis Daisy
03:20 Nov 29, 2021

Alas, once the story has been submitted, I am unable to go back in to edit. Many times I don't submit simply because I still would like to have the option to go back and tweak the story. I will keep this in mind for future rants though. Thank you! :)

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Akshara ★
11:11 Nov 25, 2021

This was fantastic! I liked how you added comedy to the story, I giggled out loud often. Do you think you could give my new story a read? :)

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Francis Daisy
14:22 Nov 26, 2021

Thank you, what a compliment to hear that my story made you giggle! Of course I will read your new story! Thank you for asking.

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Shriya Patel
18:11 Nov 23, 2021

Honestly, I feel like the ending is awesome. You don't need to change it!

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Francis Daisy
21:24 Nov 23, 2021

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and weigh in on the ending. I so appreciate you!

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Shriya Patel
00:23 Nov 24, 2021

Of course! I appreciate you as well. :)

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Scott Skinner
04:27 Nov 23, 2021

lol this had an unexpected narrator! I wasn't expecting this at all when I was reading the mom's monologue about her job. I thought her daughter's response was perfect to that btw. Once we find out what the narrator is (the sitting in the backseat was a good touch) it was fun! I liked how you added comedy to the story. The sofa/chair bit was my favorite. Regarding your question about going back to mom/daughter, I don't think you need to - the story ends in a simple way, but I think it ends well.

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Francis Daisy
10:06 Nov 23, 2021

Thank you for reading and for finding the humor. I didn't realize until I started writing how hard it is to put humor into text on a page for me. I'm quite funny inside my own head; but when I have to put everything, anything into actual words, it gets all murky and wordy. And...ugh! Conclusions are ever so difficult for me. I never know how to end a story. Just when I think I have the perfect ending, it isn't. I just go round and round about it. Your stories come to a close. Why can't mine come to closure so neatly?

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