Stay

This is a short (very short!) story I intended to enter into a short story contest sponsored by NPR.  While I ended up entering another short story, I still kind of love this one.

 

Dedication: To Rebekah Sills Lamm and her Kiki-Bear and Shelby-Dog

Stay.

I’ve been watching him sleep for a long time. 

When we met, I was broken.  The guy before him never had anything to say to me, except something along the lines of “Stay.”   Once, he kicked me across the room.   Another time, I rushed to him, exhilarated that he was home from work.  I covered him in kisses, and he broke my ribs.  That day he just kept kicking.  I whimpered at first, but finally gave him the silence he desired.

It’s strange that he still hasn’t woken up.

When we met, my leg was broken and I was missing chunks of my hair.  But, he called me beautiful.   He cupped my chin and told me he that would always take care of me.  Since then, we’ve spent most of our time at home, lounging on the couch, sitting quietly in the back yard, or draped across the bed.   While it may not be an adventure, I am at peace.   Never again will I question my safety as soon as the door opens.  Never again will I wonder if he will allow me to eat tonight.   Never again will I wonder if he loves me.

His hand feels very cold.  

I have always had quite a keen sense of smell.  In fact, he once joked that he should take me hunting.   I would go hunting with him, even though I don’t think I would enjoy it.

Now, I notice that something doesn’t smell quite right.  

He doesn’t smell quite right.

As realization sets in, I start to scream.  I run from the bedroom and to the front door, howling for help, hoping the neighbors will hear me.  I know that I should find someone, but I don’t want to leave him.  I run back to the bedroom and climb on the bed.  I try to lift his hand, but it is stiff.  His whole body is stiff.

He’s not there.

I am still howling, sobbing, but now out of despair.  I know that, even if someone does come, it won’t matter.  A horrible cold feeling fills my stomach as I realize that there will never be anyone like him.

I have a choice.

I can choose to stay, or let someone else take me away.   I once loathed that word.  “Stay.”   It used to mean prison.  Now, I know it means happiness.

So I will stay….

 

***

Several police officers fill the room.   They see the dead man on the bed and radio in the code.   ‘’We have an 11-44,” one says, wrinkling his nose.  Then, as he realizes the golden bundle of fur isn’t a fancy blanket, he radios in another code.  “We also have a 10-91D.  Looks like a golden retriever.”

“Are you sure it’s dead?”

He checks again.

“Yep, she’s dead.”

 

 

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