To Dine, or Not to Dine

June 2015
Words: 1010

Mara woke, throat scratchy and burning, nose thoroughly closed up and swollen, body aching but her mind clear. Thomas lay beside her, his back turned to her. Something heavy lay across her legs. She shifted slightly and it growled at her.

“Thomas,” she croaked, “Thomas, your stupid dog is on the bed again.”

She shifted again, moving legs that still felt weak from sickness and a deep and rumbly growl warned her to stop.

“Thomas! The dog, get the damn dog off the bed.” Her voice started loud but finished in a whisper. Her throat hurt so much, gargling with acid would have probably hurt less. She pushed at Thomas’s back, once, twice. A loud,windy fart issued from his body in answer. “Thomas!” she whisper shouted and then gave up. The man was not waking up.

She vaguely remembered the night before, Thomas had been sick, thoroughly sick and had taken up to bed early. She had followed shortly after, her throat  showing its first signs of fire. She remembered thinking, ‘I’ll probably have to call in tomorrow,’ and then recalling, ‘No, I won’t, it’ll be Sunday. I can rest all day,’ and feeling relieved. Thomas had coughed all night but she only recollected it bothering her one time when it had been particularly harsh. The rest of the time it had been background noise, a quiet din compared to the front and center pain and annoyances coming from her own body.

She groaned, feeling once again the prickly aching pains that inhabited all of her body.

I’d feel so much better with a glass of water, she thought and determined to make it  so.

She swung her legs to the edge of the bed, still under the covers and was rewarded with a sharp bite on the leg.

“Ow!” she roared, or at least croaked, most of the anger stuck impotent in her head, her body bristling with anger. You little bastard. She moved more slowly now, arms and elbows giving her leverage. First a growl, then another warning bite.

Mara screamed many colorful invectives at the dog, even if her tongue refused to deliver them, didn’t have the strength to utter them.

She wished it wasn’t so infernally dark in the room. It was darker than it should have been even if it was night, even with the flowery curtains drawn. It was deeply dark, backdoor of night dark. She couldn’t even see the offending canine that bit at her leg. She turned to her right, glancing at the clock.

It showed 3:10, the numbers solid and not blinking, the true time. There was no evidence of a power outage. Three o’clock felt wrong though. Could she have really slept until three in the afternoon, and Thomas, too? Or was it three in the morning? She was too alert for it to be the middle of the night. She felt well rested at least, even if her body was still sick.

“Thomas get your stupid dog,” she whispered. She reached over to push him again and she felt the dog’s body shift and it growled and bit down on her leg, this time locking on, no longer warning her. The blanket protected her skin but the dog had made her furious and all she could think of doing was kicking it viciously, over and over again. She worked her other leg out from under it and tried to angle her body in such a way that she could get enough power to kick the dog off of her bed. She was so weak, even bending her legs required an act of will, kicking the 80lb dog off both her leg and the bed seemed akin to pushing her car up the slant of her driveway.

Impossible. She lay back, panting, weakness pulsating through her body, tears welling her eyes.

“Thomas, get me water. Thomas,” she mumbled.

She realized suddenly that her tongue was dry, not sticky, not fuzzy, but actually dry, arid. There was more moisture present in the desert at high noon than was held in her dessicated mouth at that moment. She tried swallowing to force her mouth to salivate but all she did was allow hot air down her throat and make it worse.

She cried harder, heat falling from her eyes, her tear ducts dry as well.

“Thomas!” she was mute now, her lips moving soundlessly.

Her hand crept over to her boyfriend’s back, reaching the cloth of his t-shirt and pulling it, fingernails gripping the cloth and weakly stretching it. Thomas lay unmoved.

“Thomas, please,” she said voicelessly. “I think I’m dying,” and she realized that that was true, she could feel her clarity of mind slipping away, her consciousness drifting, splitting apart from her, like shattered raindrops on a windowpane.

If she had thought she was weak before, she had been mistaken, she could have run cross country, competing in the Olympics compared to the feebleness of her limbs now. She was frail and exhausted, her breath becoming labored in her chest.

She dreamed in flashes, her heart pounding harder and harder, then weaker. Slowing, making stops and starts, little fits, until finally it too gave up and after one last great sigh of breath her chest was still.

Rowdy, aka, that dog, released the grip of his teeth, stood up on the bed and cautiously crept slowly up the woman’s body to her face. He snuffled at her face, confirming what he had already perceived with his other senses; her body was empty.

Too well trained to domesticity to eat her while she was still alive, he had patiently waited for her to expire, his hungry belly aching, finally spasming with the hunger that had begun days ago. Trapped in this room, his master first delirious, then dead he had only to wait for the female mate of his master to die, to save his own life.

With one last sniff at her face, he chose the succulent flesh of her cheek, and dined.




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