Dog Days

Come here, little one.
Hold still, this won’t hurt a bit.
Yes, we’ll have tons of fun
but for now, stay calm and sit.

I’m… I’m sorry…
It’ll be over in a flash.

Smack!

I’m sorry!
I didn’t mean to—

All better?
I know it hurts so
please be careful next time,
I don’t want to— oh no

Sit still. Don’t… Move…
The worst will be over soon…
What? What are you trying to prove?
You wear fear like a hat, joy in your eyes…?

And that fear could swallow my fist.
Yet here you sit,
show me the price of happiness.

***

You like that slant rhyme though?

Okay so. For this dream to make sense, I have to explain some things from my childhood. And for the sake of privacy, I won’t use any names.

So my cousin had a dog once. He had gotten it as a puppy from his friend (who is arachnophobic, which I suppose is relevant). He named him Vash as in Vash the Stampede from the anime Trigun. He was a medium-sized dog, white fur with some black spots. He was an outside dog. To be perfectly blunt, this dog was just dealt a bad hand. Now I was on the outside looking in on this situation but I feel my deductions are fairly accurate. I played with Vash a few times as a kid, but when I got older and got a car, I stopped visiting their house very often so I hope you can understand how my perception of how things progressed may be skewed.

From what I could tell, my cousin wasn’t very invested in Vash. I think most kids want a pet. They’re fun and cute. But they’re also a responsibility. Over time, Vash got less and less attention. Actually every time I would come by, I would go out back and pet him some just because of that. It was easy to tell that he had become a chore, but of course the fault doesn’t all rest with my cousin.

Anyway. I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but Vash got a sort of growth on his belly. I can’t remember exactly but I think they got meds for him, but it didn’t fix the problem. It only got worse and worse until the growth had become something obscene, emphasized by Vash’s sluggish behavior. To be honest, I can’t blame them for that. Surgery would’ve been expensive. Putting him down would’ve been expensive. We didn’t have that kind of money. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Vash died. I’m not sure if it was old age or that specific medical condition or what, but he died.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way. In the dream, I was at their house for no particular reason from what I could tell. And there were these huge spiders. I mean HUGE. Like two times the size of your fist huge. There was one inside. As terrified as I was just looking at it, I killed it with my shoe. Afraid that there were more inside, we (and by we I mean some close family, no one in particular) went outside. Then there was another one. A little less scared this time, I killed it quickly.

Then Vash showed up. Which was absolutely bonkers for me. For one thing, I had literally never seen Vash anywhere but in the backyard, so to have him on the carport was sort of disarming in a way. And he was happy, like jumping up on people, panting, and bringing us toys to play with him. I had never seen him like that. I’m sure that’s not entirely true, but when I think of Vash, an excitable, hyper ball of fun wasn’t what came to mind.

So after playing fetch a few times with him, he comes back with one of those spiders on his head. But it’s weird, as if he and the spider had a mutualistic relationship. The spider was just perched on his head as if that’s where it was meant to be and Vash didn’t seem to notice or care. So there was this dog with a ball in his mouth who politely sets the ball at my feet, all while balancing a horrific spider on his head. I take my shoe off and raise it up above my head ready to smack him with it, but I just can’t do it. The Vash I remembered had gone through enough and I wasn’t sure if I could bring myself to put him through any sort of pain. After a few seconds of hesitation which could’ve easily been mistaken for making sure my aim was on point, I killed it. Vash yelped and backed away. It was difficult to say who was in more pain between the sorries and the whining. I felt terrible.

After some consoling, we went back to playing fetch. But it wasn’t long before he came back with another spider on his head. You could sorta tell he knew what was about to happen but he cared more about having fun. He came to me just as I asked. I raised the shoe to hit it. And he just sat there, patiently panting. Waiting for it to happen. It was a real moral struggle. One on hand, I really wanted to kill that fucking spider. On the other hand, the act of hitting Vash would effectively teach him and guarantee that coming back with a spider would mean lots of love and attention, but only after getting hurt. I definitely wasn’t going to hit him again, but I had no idea what to do about these spiders. So I did nothing, and kept playing fetch.

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