Drama Fiction Sad

Dina’s new alarm clock kept going off far too early. She rolled in her warm sheets and beheld the howling machine. At least he’s cute, she thought, glaring at the young puppy who was still whining at her to get out of bed. Her phone lit up her squinted face as she moaned. “5:15? Couldn’t you at least wake me up at like, two, so I could go back to sleep?” The pup’s fluffy tail dusted the floor as she rolled out of bed. 

He continued yipping as she tried to find some pants, deciding her current shirt would do for now. “Shhh, or you’ll wake up mom!” Dina whispered at the puppy, finally finding some pants in the laundry bin. She was grateful for his sudden silence as she slipped into the chilly fabric until she heard a dreaded sound - like a faucet on full blast. She whipped around and saw the ever-growing puddle of pee. 

“Shit! No, no, no,” she whispered as she grabbed him under the shoulders and flipped him upside down in her arms to stop him. She danced around with him trying to decide if bringing him outside with bare feet and no bra was worse than just using the already dirty pee pad in the corner. Giving up, she placed him on the pee pad and went to clean up the mess. The pup followed her around the room, blatantly ignoring the pee pad.

Dina quickly got fully dressed adding mismatched socks and a sweater to her already drabby wardrobe before quietly sneaking down the hallway to the kitchen, dog at her heels. As she passed her mom’s room she peaked in and saw her in the same fetal position as yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. With a sigh, Dina closed the door quietly and turned just in time to see Ninja circling in his usual tell that he was about to poop. 

“No! Wait, I’m coming!” She whispered and quietly raced to him. She grabbed him up again, collected the leash, collar, poop bags and keys before heading out into the chilly autumn morning to start another hectic day.


“Thank you, have a great day,” Dina smiled at the leaving customer. She took a deep breath as the stress of the busy morning weighed on her. 

“Dina,” her supervisor walked over with the new barista behind him. “This is Pat, he’ll be starting full time next week but I need you to help him get settled and teach him the works. He’ll just shadow you today while he learns the drinks and register.”

“Oh, right,” Dina nodded. She vaguely remembered reading something about that in an email.  

“Hey, I’m Pat,” he gave Dina a wide smile and held out his hand to her, “It’s nice to meet you.”

“I’m Dina, nice to meet you too,” she said, shaking his hand. The smile felt forced but she tried to look genuine.

As her boss turned away Dina held out a hand to stop him, “um, David. Do you think it’ll be possible for me to leave five minutes early?” She hesitated, “...I have to let Ninja out… since he’s still pretty young to hold his bladder so long.” 

David glanced at Pat then gave Dina a disapproving look. “Dina, I really need you to stick to your given schedule.”

Heat rose to Dina’s cheeks. “Oh, right. Yeah of course. No problem.” She mumbled as David walked off. She turned back to the empty counter, eyes down.

“Hey, I don’t mind manning the front if you need just a few minutes?” Pat said kindly.

“No, that’s fine. It's not fair to you.” Pat looked as though he was about to disagree. “Really, it’s fine,” Dina pushed. Pat looked skeptical at her forced smile but nodded. “So, ever work one of these before?” She gestured to the register. 


Dina wrapped her sweater tighter around herself as she walked home from work, musing on how Pat had fit right in with the staff his first few weeks - making jokes and jabs. A particularly witty comment on her doodles of Ninja had brought a smile to her face most of her shift. Her cheeks were sore - they weren’t used to all this work. 

She climbed the cement steps to the familiar wrought iron door of their building, and up the three stories. She opened the door as a tiny black head popped up over the sofa - he had finally learned how to jump on it and has since claimed it as his throne. 

The black furball leapt off the cushion, tail wagging haphazardly and ran up to Dina ready to pounce. “Hey you troublemaker,” Dina said smiling. She quickly got him set up for a quick adventure around the building.

When they got back, Dina got started on lunch, plopping two plates of leftovers in the microwave while Ninja jumped and nipped at her. “You’ll get your lunch soon, you pig.” He snorted in response and jumped on the new treat she tossed him. 

Dina took the food into her mom’s room, turning on the light with her elbow. Dina sat down in the chair beside the bed, placing one plate on the table. Her mom’s gaze was unmoving, simply staring out the window. 

“Hey mom,” she said trying to sound cheery. “How are you? I brought you some lunch.”

These moments were always tough. Seeing the emptiness in her eyes reminded Dina why she worked so much. Her mom’s eyes slowly focused on her daughter and brightened.

“Dina.” A fleeting smile came and went. “Where have you been?”

Dina was pretty sure her mom lost time while in this low state, she doubted she even remembered meeting Ninja. “I had work this morning. I have classes this afternoon but I wanted to stop by and make sure you ate something.” 

“It’s ok, dear. I’m not really hungry.” It was an ancient dance that they’ve done for years, each step leading into the next. 

“C’mon mom, you’ve gotta eat something,” Dina scolded as her phone buzzed but she silenced it. She started eating knowing that was the best way to get her mom to follow. Her mom sat up slowly and reached for the plate Dina handed her. 

“How is school going?” Her mom asked as she pushed the food around on the plate. “Better than that nude sketching I hope?” They chuckled at the memories of the horrid nudes Dina had attempted her freshman year. They continued small talk as they both ate their lunches, her mom’s complexion looking healthier as Dina took all the dishes out to the kitchen.


Dina sat on the park bench one weekend, nestling a hot cup of coffee to warm her hands as Ninja scampered around playing with dried leaves as they drifted in the frigid breeze. She had a sudden awareness that she was smiling. Her cheeks hurt as she chuckled at his cute frustration. Despite the extra work, she knew he was worth it. 

She looked over the paths of the park as her heart gave a painful wrench watching a couple walk together. It’s been days since they talked. She pulled out her phone to the text screen but there were no messages.

Getting up to walk through the park, she began reminiscing:

“Ok Ninja, let’s try this again,” she smiled at her younger pup, tossing one of his favourite toys. “Go get it!” Ninja watched the toy fly through the air, then turned and jumped all over Dina, nibbling painfully on her fingers. Dina was attempting to free herself when she heard a voice echo across the park, “Cersei, no!” Suddenly a cold nose pressed into her backside.

“Oof!” Dina spun around and found a white mop holding the toy she had thrown.

“I am so sorry… oh hey Dina!” Pat said, running up to them. “Cersei just doesn’t know her manners.” He chuckled as he re-claimed her leash. 

“It’s all good,” she laughed watching the man trying to wrestle the toy from the determined dog. 

“How’ve you been?” Pat asked her mid tug-of-war. Feeling more normal than usual, she smiled brightly at him and eased into a light conversation. The pair walked together, wrapped up in discussions about dogs and coffee shops.

Memories kept popping up as she walked through the park. The pond they shared some ice cream, the hill they had a small picnic. It was never formally a date- he just happened to walk Cersei at the same time, or so he claimed. Her chest tightened as she realized she had gotten too attached - she learned long ago she couldn’t bring people home. She put her phone away and walked home.

As they approached the door Dina heard crashing from the apartment. She opened the door to find her mom rushing around the kitchen with flour all over her.

“Hi dear! Where have you been?” Her mom smiled brightly. “I’m making cookies!” She went back to the counter, picked up a bag of chocolate chips, then put them down on the opposite counter only to stir one of the bowls overflowing with ingredients.

“I can see that,” Dina said slowly. She unclipped Ninja who scampered off to her mom and started jumping on the trespasser. Her mom’s smile faded as she pointed the dough-covered spoon at the creature. 

“What’s this?” Her mom demanded as she jolted around trying to avoid Ninja.

“This is Ninja,” Dina said carefully as she took off her coat and gloves. “Remember him?”

“Ah, of course! Well I guess we can keep him for now.” 

Dina ignored her mom’s comment and threw one of the dog toys into the other room to keep Ninja occupied trying to decapitate the stuffed rabbit. “What happened here? It looks like a tornado came through.” Dina eyed the dirty dishes, coffee grounds and baking goods scattered everywhere. 

“I just got a hankering for some sugar,” her mom said, winking at Dina. “So, what are our plans tonight? Gonna go out? We should go shopping! You would look just great in a new skirt, with your hair up! We should get our nails done! How about a quick smoothie, then a manipedi?” Her mom rattled off her thoughts like an automatic gun. 

“How about just dinner and a movie? We could order in?” Dina said, calculating how long it’ll take to clean up the kitchen plus the time it would take to make dinner. 

“Sure! Then we could go out for drinks,” her mom kept rambling as Dina started the painful process of throwing out all the wasted food. “I’ll go order something? What’cha feel like? Indian? Sushi? Thai?” Her mom held the phone in her hand and finally paused waiting for Dina to answer.

“Surprise me,” she said knowing her mom would order whatever she wanted anyway.


Dina woke to her usual, now bigger, alarm. Ninja whined at the head of Dina’s bed, nose to nose with his owner. “I guess I'm getting up, huh?” She mumbled to Ninja who replied with a puff of smelly breath in her face. “Ugh, fine.” Dina got ready for another busy day.

 “Morning mom,” Dina said as she got to the kitchen and reached for the coffee pot.

“Where are you off to this early on a Saturday?” Her mom replied, eyeing the travel mug Dina grabbed.

“I need to take Ninja out for a longer walk this morning. I have that art project thing all day today.”

“Art project? Why didn’t you tell me?” Her mom scolded while eyeing the dog who was behaving surprisingly well.

“Yeah, it’s like a mini art exhibition with this semester’s work on display.” Dina said as she started to grab her winter gear, smiling at Ninja biting his leash.

Her mom frowned, watching Dina’s smile, then said, ”how about you and me go shopping later, huh? Leave the little scamp here. You would just love this outfit I found for you.”

“I can’t mom,” Dina was ready to head out.

“Why not?” 

“Because I have the art exhibit all day,” Dina said, trying to be patient. “Plus I need to play with Ninja more. I’ve barely had time with work and this project.”

There was a long pause as her mom frowned at Ninja, but his attention was strictly for Dina… and the treat bag on her waist. 

“How about I take him out? … I can take him to the park.” She said hesitantly. “Then we could go shopping after your show-and-tell thing?”

Dina hesitated by the door. “Can you handle that?” She asked hesitantly. 

“What’s family for?” Her mom said.

“That would help me out so much! You could play fetch! He’s getting a lot better. He actually runs to the toy now.” Dina smiled at her mom who gave a half smile back as Dina took Ninja out for one last quick walk.


“Mom!” Dina shouted as she got home later that night. “The exhibition went great. I think I’m going to ace this...” Dina trailed off when she saw her mom in the living room with four or five different outfit ensembles on at once.

“Don’t I look magnificent?” Her mom exclaimed, showing off the sparkling rings on her hands.

“Where did you get all of this?” Dina said, slowly stepping through the threshold.

“I waited for you,” her mom pouted, “but you took forever, so I went out by myself.” Her mom looked like a colourful peacock with a variety of colours and fabrics covering her. 

“How did you pay for all of that?” Dina said eyeing all of the shopping bags scattered across the room.

“I took one of your credit cards when you were out this morning.” Her mom said distractedly as she pulled another feather boa out and wrapped it around herself.

“Mom! That’s my money!” Dina’ shock was turning into frustration. “How do you expect me to pay for all of this? I can’t work anymore hours!”

“You’ll figure it out, love,” her mom laughed. “You always figure it out.” She began to dance around the room looking through all of her goodie bags.

Dina stood stunned in the entrance way with her coat still on, fresh snowflakes on her shoulders starting to melt as she tried to comprehend what was happening. Her mom has had outbursts before but never to this extent. She felt something snap in her chest.

“Pack it up,” Dina said quietly.

“Hmm,” her mom said, turning from a small bag of jewelry. “What was that?”

“Pack. It. Up.” Dina said sternly. “Now.”

“Hmf, honey, it’s a few fun items,” her mom laughed waving a sparkling hand at her daughter. “Stop overreacting, dear.”

“I am not overreacting.” Dina’s patience with her mom had run out. “You have zero understanding of what I do for you every day! You have no appreciation of the work I do. I want to be free! I want a life of my own!” Dina felt her emotions finally bursting free like champagne from a bottle. “You have kept me from having friends, from dating, from … everything!”

“You are such a drama queen, always were,” her mom sunk into the couch and reached for a glass of wine that Dina was sure was another shopping spree addition. “That’s why he left, you know.” Her mom eyed her over the wine glass. 

“Dad left ‘cuz he was sick of your shit.” Dina started to pack up the random mess back into bags. “You are the selfish one. I bet you didn’t even take Ninja-” Dina stood up straight and frantically searched the room for her little furball. “Where’s Ninja?” 

Her mom simply sipped at her drink. “Who?” She asked innocently.

“My dog,” Dina ground out before she rushed through the small apartment, her heart plummeting. She went back to her mom. “Where is my dog!”

“Oh relax.” She paused. “I took him to the park. Just like you asked.” 

Dina’s mood grew as dark as the night sky.

“I have no idea why you insisted on getting that thing. We are already a perfect family just the two of us.” Her mom poured herself more alcohol. 

“That dog is more family to me than you have been.” Dina’s eyes started to fill against her will.

“Oh ho, please!” Her mom smiled. “What’s that saying? Blood is thicker than wine?” She said, swirling her red wine. “We don’t need that animal.”

Dina started to put her shoes back on.

“Where are you going?” Her mom stood up abruptly. 

“To find my family, and after,” Dina grunted as she put on her heavy boot, “I want you out of my apartment. You’re the adult, you can ‘figure things out’,” she said to her mom, reaching for the handle.

“He’ll never make you happy,” her mom shot quickly, ignoring the command to leave.

“He already has,” she said as she opened the door. “And by the way, the saying is blood is thicker than water. But the original saying is ‘the blood of the covenant is thicker than the blood of the womb”,” Dina glared at her mom.

“Pft, what does that even mean?” 

“It means that bonds of love are stronger than that of family.” Dina left before she saw her mom’s reaction and raced down the stairs, heart breaking thinking of Ninja out in the night. She shot outside and turned towards the park, when her phone buzzed. 

“Hey Pat, I can’t talk right now,” she said with a thick throat. The streetlights were just turning on in the dark and her heart sank. 

“I think you might want to hear about this,” Pat hinted with a smile in his voice. Before Dina could reply, she heard Cersei barking in the background. Then another, familiar bark with hers. Dina stopped in her tracks, heart swelling.

“Guess who we found?” Pat said.

“I’ll be right there!” She cried as she hung up.

 Dina shot off down the street to join her family. 

February 05, 2021 19:23

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