10 comments

Contemporary Friendship Happy

Little Choices

The alarm. 

The groan of the day's first effort. 

The shuffling scrape of bare feet against the hardwood floor. 

The flush of the toilet. 

The washing of hands. 

The brushing of teeth.

This was the easy part. The routine. These small comforting steps I take towards motivation. When I say motivation, I mean coffee. But there is a lot to do between this and coffee.

The squeal of the sliding closet door upon its old and dry paint clogged tracks comes to the predictable thumping halt as I push it hard enough to open it completely. If I don’t push it that hard it gets stuck half open and sometimes jumps the track and then I’ve got to struggle with it. So, I just kind of force it.

Choose a shirt.

Choose pants.

Choose socks.

Choose shoes.

All of these things should be comfortable, should be routine, but they’re not. Each and every combination has immeasurable consequences. Is it warm? Will it rain? It’s spring… will today be the day the building goes from inferno level heat to polar level cold as we transition to air conditioning? I could probably look at the weather app and avoid this stress, but the stress is part of the routine. Is the stress… comfortable?

Will my boss care? Will his boss visit and will she care? Will my boss pretend he cares so she will see that he does? Will he write me up or simply give me a talking to? Depends on if that job he wants is available. Careerism rears its ugly head in the most ridiculous ways. Stress might be comfortable.

Will they finally call like they said they would and will we finally get that drink after work? Stress is uncomfortable, but I’ve come to expect it and so I create it. Before I even get to my coffee.

Grab the leash.

Grab the bags.

Walk the dog. 

Pick up after. 

Look around. 

No garbage can in sight. 

Walk home swinging a tiny bag of poop and smiling at the passers by.

What do other people think when they see me swinging a little bag of poop?

What is this? Another dog walker coming my way?

“Good morning!” I say, sheepishly, trying to minimize the swing of the tiny bag of poop in my hand.

“Good morning!” She smiles and gestures her greeting, her own tiny bag of poop now smacking against the back of her knuckles as she assumes a mortified look of resignation.

She can see it on my face. She thinks this exchange has come to its conclusion. She thinks I'm judging her for the poop bag. She’s embarrassed. She speeds up.

“Have a great day!” I wave and my own poop bag drops to the ground in a painfully contrived and totally obvious attempt to keep her from moving on.

She laughs. I laugh.

Shirt, pants. Socks, shoes, even the dog! All good choices!

We’re talking. We find a garbage can. I offer to hold her leash so she can wash up. She does the same for me. We get that coffee together. I don’t go to work and neither does she!

She’s quite stunning actually. She’s wearing a fancy hat. I call it a fancy hat because I don’t know what it's called and it would be weird if I stopped right now just to Google it. It’s kind of old timey and poofy but has a brim at the front. Her hair falls down the back of her neck beneath it and one little tendril has escaped at her left temple. It’s the color of fall, rich brown with hints of red and gold and sets off the green in her bottomless brown eyes.

We walk through the park. We walk through town. We stop at the cafe and have a bite to eat. The dogs get along well. We get along well! This is amazing!

We see each other again on Thursday. Again on Saturday. Days become weeks. Weeks become months. Months become years. We’re getting married?

She’s still quite stunning. She’s wearing a veil. I thought that was kind of old timey, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. He dress trails behind her as we walk down the aisle. She said that she’s not property and no one was giving her away. She said I should join her and we should walk down together. That’s not old timey. I love it! When she lifts the veil the bottomless brown eyes set me to melting. Their flecks of green swirling in my mind like a leafy cyclone on a windy autumn day.

There's no wedding party. No Best Man… no Maid of Honor. The officiant is her brother, got a license on the internet and somehow that makes this official. I laughed at the thought but I’m assured it’s one hundred percent legit. We’re married! 

We dance. We sing. No Daddy Daughter Dance, No Mother and Son’s, instead an invitation to gather on the dancefloor for Disco Inferno. She grabs her Dad. I grab my mom. We stumble and laugh but pull it off at least as gracefully as we had those first few minutes when the only thing that we had in common were tiny bags of poop. Thank god for those little bags of poop.

***

Grab the leash.

Walk the dog.

Anyone watching?

Leave it there.

“Pick up after your dog, asshole.” A passerby mutters.

Ugh.

I look up. 

Stupid girl. 

Stupid hat.

Goodbye dog.

Lock up.

Go to work.

Boss is nervous.

His eyes are tight and his mouth keeps chewing on words but nothing is coming out. What’s wrong with him? 

He’s talking now. He’s upset that I'm not adhering to the dress code. Shirt, pants, socks, shoes… what a mistake.

“This isn’t the place for me?” I ask incredulously, echoing his words.

“Maybe I’d like it better working somewhere else?” I echo again.

“Thanks for my service?” I grate between clenched teeth.

He walks into his office. It’s not an office. It’s a cube with a plexiglass barrier from the chest high aluminum to the ceiling. It's the same as mine but with a plastic window. It's the same as mine was.

Home. 

Grab the leash.

Grab the bags. Stupid girl.

Walk the dog. 

Pick up after. 

Look around. 

No garbage can in sight. 

Walk home swinging a tiny bag of poop and avoiding the passers by.

What do other people think when they see me swinging a little bag of poop?

What is this? Another dog walker coming my way? My eyes narrow. It’s that girl again.

I look away, sheepishly, trying to minimize the swing of the tiny bag of poop in my hand.

“Good afternoon! Found your bags I see.” She jokes.

She can see it on my face. I’m embarrassed. She’s mocking me for the poop bag. I speed up.

“Hey!” She smiles and gestures her greeting, her own tiny bag of poop now hanging from her outstretched hand as she smiles.

I stop and regard my own bag of poop.

She laughs. I laugh.

April 29, 2023 12:27

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

10 comments

Michał Przywara
20:36 May 10, 2023

Heh, excellent "sliding door" decision :) Probably something every dog walker considered at least once. What's neat here is that it resulted in two different futures, but in both they end up laughing together. Perhaps some things are fated after all :)

Reply

John Werner
21:36 May 10, 2023

Perhaps they are. Glad you liked it!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Carolyn Wayson
03:58 May 09, 2023

This was so good! I loved that the dog poop was the thing that made the difference! Haha. Good job!

Reply

John Werner
09:07 May 09, 2023

Thank you!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
K M Hasling
21:25 May 08, 2023

Awww, this is cute. I love how he gets the girl both times. Reading the second one started out depressing but you turned it around. Loved that. I thought it was a bit long. The wedding details were cute though. The repeat from the first to second was effective in the formatting so you could skim. I also liked how you didn’t actually show the conversation with the boss and just kept us purely inside this guy’s head.

Reply

John Werner
21:57 May 08, 2023

Thanks so much!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rabab Zaidi
16:05 May 06, 2023

Interesting but a trifle confusing.

Reply

John Werner
16:27 May 06, 2023

Thank you for your feedback.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Mary Bendickson
01:55 May 01, 2023

Well, you don't write often just save up for the good stuff. Very good stuff!

Reply

John Werner
18:32 May 01, 2023

I appreciate that! Thank you!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply