A/N: Originally published on January 16th, 2013 on A Purple Panda. – Alixa
Vanilla was a beautiful white dog. She had blue eyes and such a soft fur. She loved snuggling up to me at night, keeping me warm and safe. I got her when she was still a pup and I raised her with love. Thanks to her, I started jogging just for fun. Every morning at 5:30, she would wake me up gently with her cold, wet nose. Then, we’d go outside for up to an hour, running while enjoying the quiet streets of the neighborhood. She liked chicken above all so I would share mine with her every time. We had a peaceful and happy life until that weird thing start happening.
One morning, I heard a voice in my ear. “Wake up, Jake, wake up!” it said. I thought I was still half sleeping considering I had been single for a while and girls never spent the night at my place. I felt Vanilla’s breath on my neck, knowing I’d feel her nose on my skin a second after. “Wake up, Jake! Let’s go for a run!” the voice sounded again. I opened my eyes and got up, as usual, and slowly got dressed. I had such a headache! As I was walking towards the kitchen, I stopped dead in my steps. Wait, did I actually hear voices? Was it just my imagination? There was no one in the room… what…? And as I was questioning myself, Vanilla was following me, tail wiggling. “Hurry, Jake! Time to go!!”
That’s when I realized the female voice was Vanilla’s. I jumped back and looked at her, my eyes filled with a mix of surprise and fear. How in the hell could she do that? Maybe I was really going crazy. I shook my head, trying to convince myself I just had a bad night and my imagination was playing tricks on me. I mean, how could that ever be possible? So I kept on going with my morning routine and went out with my dog for our every day run, hoping it would clear my mind. Funny thing, though, I could hear her greet the few dogs and their owners we met on our jog, but these dogs only barked back just like they should.
Back home, I showered, ate my breakfast and rushed to work. Not once did Vanilla say anything to me, but as I left the house, I swore I heard her wish me a good day. How weird is all this? At the office, things were perfectly normal and the day went on like any other day. I even forgot about my temporary insanity. That was until I got the parking lot late afternoon. As I was getting my stuff in the car, I overheard a conversation between some guys working close to me.
“Yeah, maybe I’m crazy, but I swear I heard Sparky talk to me this morning.”
“Didn’t have your coffee yet, heh Mark!! Haha!”
“Haha, you’re laughing, Jeff, but Krista says all the time that Fluffy talks to her.”
“Your kid is 7, Alex. She thinks everything can talk.”I frowned and got in my car, going directly home. What the hell was going on? It seemed that I wasn’t only one hearing my pet speak. Or I wasn’t the only one going crazy. In any case, that wouldn’t stop me from going back to my place. I was already looking forward to a cold beer and a mindless TV watching session. Sports, maybe, or a movie if anything good was playing. I browsed the channels quickly while my mind drifted. Vanilla came and lied down at my feet, her head on her paws. I smiled and mechanically petted her head as I settled for a sports channel with a football game on. I didn’t really know the teams that were competing, but I didn’t really care. I just needed a distraction. Slowly slipping into drowsiness, that’s when the voices started again.
“Isn’t there anything else to watch?”
Vanilla was looking straight at me. I felt like I woke up immediately, but how could I explain my DOG was talking to me if I wasn’t dreaming? But I knew I was completely in control of my sense when she got up and snatched the remote control out of my hand with her paw. She had the kindness to keep her claws in, thankfully. I was still wondering if I was crazy when she started changing channels until she stopped at a cooking show. I couldn’t believe this. What was happening? To me, to Vanilla, to the world? I thought of calling my best friend for a second, but I chased that idea quickly. What would I tell him? He’d probably just tell me to go see a shrink ASAP.
Confused, I finished my beer and went to the kitchen, looking to fill my growling stomach. I took some leftover rice and fish and shoved them in the microwave. While it was heating, I leaned on the counter, holding my head. The pounding started again like it did in the morning. I didn’t notice the dog followed me until she spoke again.
“You’re ok, Jake? You don’t seem well… and what’s cooking?”
She sniffed the air as I looked at her. Was I supposed to answer?
I could swear she was disappointed. She walked back to the living room, tail low, as I stared with wide eyes. Again, what was going on? I closed my eyes for a second, distracted by the pain. I slowly made my way to the bathroom across the hall and grabbed some pills I quickly swallowed. That headache was killing me. I heard the microwave in the distance signalling me my meal was ready, but I didn’t bother. I splashed cold water on my face, waiting for the meds to kicks in. After a while only did I go back to the kitchen to eat my supper, then I headed straight to bed. Vanilla stayed glued to the TV. She’d come join me later.
That night, I had only nightmares. All about me dying painfully, my head crushed by different objects. I woke up feeling barely rested and with a raging headache back for round two. Vanilla was already up and about to push me with her nose.
“Not today,” I grumbled.
But she wouldn’t take no for an answer and rolled me out of bed. I sighed and let her drag me outside. Fine, maybe some fresh air would help though I seriously doubted it. I still took more painkillers and water before heading out and didn’t run for the full hour. After a while, I took the shortcut home. Vanilla wasn’t very happy about it and growled a little bit, but I explained to her I couldn’t keep going. That day, I called in sick.
Slowly, I started having more and more conversations with her. It became normal to talk to my dog and have her answer me, though I still kept that fact secret. I slept horribly at night, and during the day my headaches would take over suddenly, making it impossible for me to concentrate. I took more sick days in those few weeks than I ever did in my whole life. Funny enough, I wasn’t the only one. The attendance at the office was terrible and when we showed up, we all looked like zombies. Even the bosses couldn’t complain as they were also suffering from the disease that was taking over the building.
It wasn’t just us, though. Everywhere I could see it happening. Even at the grocery store I always went the staff looked weird. They even let me take Vanilla inside the shop when I usually have to tie her outside. She enjoyed this little trip as she could tell me what she wanted. Chicken, of course, was on the menu. Lots of it. I didn’t even mind talking to her in public and I could see other clients do the same, though I didn’t really notice them at all. And I was letting Vanilla make most of the decisions, satisfied to simply follow her around and grab what she wanted off the shelves. My head hurt too much for me to think, let alone question the direction that was taking our relationship.
Soon, I didn’t even think about my own desires, too busy fighting the headaches by taking pill after pill. It helped numbing the pain and she encouraged me to do so. With time, that would become my normal status. Vanilla told me when to go run, work, eat, shop. There was nothing else much for me to do and I was grateful for her input and company. My social life fell apart, none of my friends tried to call me and I didn’t call them. Taking care of my dog was enough for me, though. She was my whole world now, and I was oblivious to everything that wasn’t about her. She was keeping my alive. Without her, I would’ve died of pain, or of hunger. She saved me by taking my life in charge. She is… a goddess.