Discover more from Born With A Dog's Head
The Convalescent: Dig, Dog, Dig!!!
Short introduction. Fiction.
Past the railings, the sand is flat, and the sea is calm. Despite the sun, the breeze that blows along freshly-shaved patches of my scalp is cold.
The wounds feel hot, hot under my fingers that run over rough scabs and stitches, twitching with the urge to scratch.
Nails scraping over raw skin makes my legs tremble.
To see if I'm bleeding, I consult my reflection in an empty shop window.
With feet planted shoulder width apart, my fingers pull head-skin taut.
The dirt on the glass makes the stitching look purple, but there's no fresh blood.
With virtually deserted streets, there's no need to worry about getting in the way of foot traffic. With nobody inside the buildings, there's no need to worry about people watching me inspect myself.
I lick my thumb and drag it through the muck covering the glass.
There's a large
left behind in the grime, outlining my silhouette.
The only thing left of my original ears are the holes. Whatever the new ones belonged to, they were big.
The furred flaps stuck to my skin twist to pick up sounds of the sea.
I breathe in lungfuls of salted air.
I scrit and I scrat and I flick the dried bits of scab from my fingernails.
Steping back, the clock tower is visible over the roofline. It stands in the centre of town so high you can see it nearly everywhere along the waterfront.
I'm early, but she'll already be waiting.
Towards the beach, tarmac leads to damp stairs and grey-green painted railings.
Descending the steps, the sounds of sand between stone and sole are amplified by the wall beside me.
She is alone on the beach, already at the water, feet skimming the shallow waves, clad entirely in black. The sound of her dress billowing in the wind is louder than the waves.
I kick off my trainers and peel off my socks. After rolling up my trouser legs, I pad over to her, carrying my shoes by the heels.
The sand starts dry and soft and compacts quickly to a sea-soaked clay.
Up close, I can see her latest surgeries. There is still a halo of iodine in her eyebrows. Her stitches, the ones now crossing her eyes, they're still red raw.
Eyelid sewn to eyelid.
The old scars, where her nose has been cut and folded, are shiny, pink rabbit nostrils. Scars so red and skin so white.
Standing there, with the sound of black fabric flapping, sand blows into both of our wounds.
You look different, I say.
Her head turns, not quite facing me. Only her mouth smiles.
Her hands gesture, she shrugs her shoulders and says, They can give and they can take away.
Taking a cigarette from a case in her shoulder bag, she checks for the filter with her tongue. She cups a hand around lighter and thumbs the striker.
Unlit, the cigarette sticks to her lips. She says, It's only a temporary punishment.
My hands surround hers as a windbreak.
Why? I say.
Her nostrils try to flare, smoke drifts past my face.
You'd better not be wearing shoes on the beach. She says, There's something untrustworthy about that.
She exhales a plume of smoke towards the ground.
I frown, shake my head and say, I'm not.
Her foot reaches out and touches mine.
She nods and we set off walking.
She dictates the pace, drifting up and down the beach with the incoming waves, feeling by way of the water.
I mostly keep my eyes to the ground. Mostly for her.
With her unable to return my gaze, I'm allowed to inspect her face more closely.
I'm allowed to see her nose, cut along the nostrils, cut up to the tear ducts where the skin is flattened down, whiskers growing from swolen cheeks.
Despite the damage, the scars suit her.
Footprints follow us along the coastline.
The clock has kept ticking, the tower has grown smaller.
I say, My muscles ache.
She says, Which ones?
I say, The ones on my ears.
She reaches over, misses me, and I take her hand and place it on my head.
These. I say.
She nods and says, They will do. Still nodding, she says, They always will.
I hold her hand and say, Why?
Her hand drops to her side, she starts to walk, and says, Do I look like I work here?