Short Fiction

I’m Your Bad Neighbor


Corrie Dibble

The night air is always cooler, two sweaters are usually necessary. I tug the white one on last, it reflects better in the light. I yawn and stretch my arms above my head and sway side to side. Stretching always make me feel good, sends energy up my spine and down my legs. Especially when my eyes feel heavy, and my feet feel like they are glued to the floor—each step in slow motion.

The dog sits silently waiting for me. Her sweet eyes drooping down and watching my every move. Knowing that she’s there brings a feeling of relief, steady calm. Her breath soft on my arm as I wrap her collar around her neck.

You know what they say about your dog being your best friend, well I guess I have two. Two besties, not two dogs. My dog is the brain between the two of us, she is the one who keeps me on my toes, who has the last say.

Our walks are our time to reflect—she sniffs and I think. I think about the conversation I had with my mother on the phone about her gallery, or the day at the office, the man I saw in the line at the grocery store. Sometimes I hope, instead of think. I hope about what the future brings—a better job, or a boyfriend. I dream too. I dream about the time I will win an award for being fabulous, at something. I dream about all sorts of things as I reflect. I will think about the paper I wrote for a class I finished two years prior, and then dream about going back and being able to redo it—both the class and the paper, or, I reflect on the boy I met and then dream about the house and the car and the size of family we will have; then I dream about the same boy without kids and living free, off the grid and traveling to parts of the world I have never heard of.

We walk the same route every night. We go late, so we’re alone. It’s better that way. No one to bother us. The dog likes to sniff the garbage cans, the plants in the neighbors’ yards, the concrete in the road, anything really. I wonder sometimes if she knows what she is smelling, can she identify with it? I watch my shadow grow as we get farther from the street light. The grooves in the sidewalk fade away to dirt and the weeds grow along the edges. When the dog stops, I stop and stare at the ground—looking for the grooves worn down into the pavement. I can see them glistening, almost sparkling from hidden diamonds.

I try to identify with everything and everyone, at least something. I want to connect, be there in the moment and take away an idea, a new perspective, friends, lovers…I often wish I could ask for a repeat of time. But who do I ask?

The dog’s poop is large, larger than most dogs, and sometimes larger than my own. It is a technique, poop picking, making sure that you get it all, don’t miss the drips. I always pick up the poop with a baggie, earth friendly. I make sure I drop the bag in the neighbor lady’s garbage bin, even better when I can get the dog to shit in her driveway. “I’m your bad neighbor,” I say under my breath—even though no one’s around to see or hear me.

That is usually the case, and this is usually why. She yelled at me once, for no reason. She doesn’t like dogs or people. Her face scowls like an old man, I hope it stays that way.

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