Exercise 2: “Write from the point of view of a dog in an apartment”

What the Dog Saw

It’s not an ideal view for a dog, out this window, across from another building decorated with rusty fire escapes. There are no trees, no birds, there is no grass on which she could wish to roll around. But staring out the window is what dogs do, so she does this, day after day while Lily is at work and she is alone in their apartment. There is a cat who sits in a distant window, looking her way as if taunting her, but she is tired of him now. She lets her eyes close.

That morning, as she did every morning, Lily had patted her head and slipped her ears through her hands and said, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, okay?” and then, “I’ll be back, sweetie, I’ll be back.” Lily always looks her straight in the eyes when she says this, making sure Lucy understands. When the door had closed, Lucy had turned around and hopped up on the couch, as usual, where she spent most of the day, either staring out the window or sleeping.

A noise wakes her, her ears prick up, she opens her eyes and lifts her head from the arm of the couch. The curtains are usually closed in the window across from theirs a storey above, but today they are open. Ambient noise from the busy street close by, horns, a yell, the general swoosh of vehicles. But there was something else, she had heard it.

Then she sees it, or something else, another thing. A shoe flies out the window, bangs its way down the fire escape, stops upside down on a landing. Someone is screaming but being a dog she doesn’t know what the person is saying. She knows rage, though, when she hears it. She remembers it from before this life.

She continues to watch the window, her ears lying back and flat, as more objects are jettisoned: a picture frame, a keyboard, an alarm clock, things she does not know but recognizes—a shirt flutters its way to the littered pavement below. Still she sees no one. And there is only one voice, a high-pitched female voice, obviously unhappy.

Lucy does nothing. What can she do but watch? She understands only that someone is angry, that the violent banging frightens her, that something is not right. This causes her to shake slightly and begin to pant. She can sense the emotion. But there is nothing she can say, no one she could tell anyway.

A lamp crashes on the metal ladder across the way. A heavy, unzipped duffle bag lets loose its guts on the way down. And suddenly a head, long hair framing a red face looking down. Lucy’s ears prick up again, but the woman makes no sound. There is a shadow behind her and her head disappears. In its place is the torso of another woman, leaning on the window ledge. She too looks down. Lucy sees her face is wet.

Later, when Lily comes home from work, Lucy is glad to see her. She twists her body back and forth and grunts happily, sidestepping towards her. Lily dumps her bags and scratches Lucy’s rump and lets her lick her chin and says, “Hi baby! How was your day, sweets? Anything exciting happen while I was gone? Eh? Anything you want to tell me about?”

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