I stood in the middle of the living room and stared at her. She was playing with the dog. It was always the fucking dog. I didn’t have anything against dogs–even small, yappy ones like that–but the dog had become her way of brushing me off. Any time I brought up something she didn’t want to discuss–or even hear–she’d start playing with the terrier. Like now.
“Does Bella want a treat? Does she? Does mommy’s baby want a treat?”
Predictably, Bella began dancing and yapping at Shellie’s feet, drowning out everything else in the room, and our conversation would be conveniently forgotten. I turned and went into the bedroom. I knew when I’d been dismissed.
I used to think we’d get back to our discussions–that she’d get a handle on her distractibility. Instead, Shellie would navigate around whatever we’d been talking about in the first place, avoiding it like it was quicksand. Then, she’d just act like nothing had ever happened and expect me to play along. I eventually realized that this wasn’t markedly different than the rest of our relationship. Bella had just made it easier for Shellie avoid stuff she didn’t want to deal with and made it more obvious to me. I supposed that little mutt had done me a favor.
I unzipped my backpack and started packing. It wasn’t like I had a lot there. One drawer in the dresser and half a shelf in the medicine cabinet. Unplugging my laptop and phone I shoved them in my computer case and grabbed both bags.
Shellie looked up at me as stepped into the living room, and her brow furrowed. “Where are you going?”
“I thought we were going to watch a movie.”
I grabbed the bag of dog treats off the end table and shook it. Bella danced around my feet, putting her little paws on my thighs. “Does Bella want a treat? Does she?”
“Karen? What are you doing?”
“I’m giving Bella a treat,” I said, keeping my gaze fixed on the dog. “Aren’t I, girl. Yes, I am. I’m giving the puppy a treat.”
I gave her two. I figured owed her for being instrumental in figuring shit out. Tossing the bag back on the table, I pulled open the front door.
“When are you coming back?”
The dog darted for the open door, but I gently nudged her back. “Who’s a good girl? That’s right, Bella is,” I crooned to her in that same annoying voice Shellie insisted on using.
From the corner of my eye, I could see that she’d stood. “Karen?
“Bye, Bella.” I shut the door and walked down the front steps.
I could breathe again.