Snuggling into bed that night was more relaxing than any other night in my life. I was home and I was planning to sleep until dinner time the next day, maybe even past. Who needed leftovers anyway? Eh, who am I kidding, left overs are the best part of Christmas.
I closed my eyes before Clare returned from the bathroom that was adjacent to our bed room and didn’t have the strength to reopen them when she sat down on the bed and laid down next to me.
“Taylor, I totally forgot to hit the light switch,” Clare said. “Could you get it for me?”
I opened one eye lid and looked at her. “I’m going,” I told her closing my eye again. “I can see me there. I can see me flipping the light switch. I did it and now I’m back in bed.”
Clare sighed. “You’re going to make your eight month pregnant wife get up and turn off the light.” She started to sit up but I sat up and stopped her. With all the energy I could muster I got up, turned off the light, and literally fell back into bed on my stomach. I stayed that way for a few minutes, with my head buried into my pillow until I started to get cold with no covers on. I tried to move to grab the comforter but failed and wound up not moving at all, in reality I hadn’t thrown the covers over me and I was still cold. I closed my eyes and when I filtered back into consciousness I felt that there was something resting on my back. Figuring it was my wife’s arm or head, I ignored it and didn’t even bother to open my eyes to look. Pretty soon there was something wet inside my ear and I knew it couldn’t have been in my dreams, it was real. I opened my eyes and was startled for a second. I had slept on my pillow all night and the white looked like an ocean spread out before me. I couldn’t find where the pillow ended nor where it started. I raised my head and turned towards Clare but instead of finding her I found a huge tongue.
I yelped in surprise as Avery decided it was play time and licked me senseless.
“Taylor, stop,” Clare whined sleepily from her side of the bed. “You’re moving too much, just stop it.”
I grabbed the dog under the arms, twisted on to my back and held her above my head like I would one of the babies. Her little tail wagged and she barked, her tongue hanging out of her mouth and panting heavily. She wriggled out of my hands, jumped to my stomach and started licking me again.
“All right, all right!” I said. “I give up.” I sat up and ran my hands through my hair. Avery jumped in my lap and I scratched behind her ears. “Why do you like me so much?” I whispered to her as I pet her. “Why’d you attack me at,” I looked at the clock, “eight in the morning?” I groaned. “We can’t make a habit out of this,” I warned her shaking my finger at her little nose. “Until Zoë goes back to school no waking me up before noon.” The dog barked and Clare moaned tiredly. I grabbed the dog around the waist and closed the bedroom door on the way out. “No need to wake up the wife,” I told the puppy placing her on the ground lightly. “Your mommy is about to give you new siblings and you don’t want her to be grumpy in the morning.” I shook my head, “Oh no you do not want that at all.”
I started down the stairs with the dog at my heels and made my way into the kitchen. I filled the dog’s water dish up with water and placed it back down on the ground. Avery ignored it and jumped up onto my leg, placing her front paws on my pants. “What?” I asked her. “What do you want from me?” She pawed my leg anxiously. “No,” I said shaking my head. “We are not teaching you any habits yet. If I take you outside now then every morning you are going to get me up at eight and make me take you outside.” Her tongue slid out of her mouth and she yelped at me. “Oh all right!” I grumbled, walking towards the back door. I opened it and stood to the side. “Go,” I instructed the puppy. She didn’t move. “Go!” She backed away from the door. I rolled my eyes and grabbed her around the waist placing her in the doorway. She cowered back and ran to the refrigerator. “Damn mutt,” I muttered scooping her up once again.
I shivered as my bare feet touched the cold back porch. The snow was still covering the sides of the porch since I had barely shoveled the concrete, only enough for a few people to go outside and stand around before getting too cold and coming back in the house. The middle of each step going from the porch down to the backyard was sprinkled lightly with snow that must have fallen during the night.
“Cold!” I yelped as I stepped down each step holding the puppy out in front of me. “You better be fast,” I told her when I placed her paws on the ground. “I’m not standing here forever freezing my butt off in this weather.” Avery ran towards the garage and darted back and forth across the garden for a few minutes, finally doing her business near the edge of the garage. I shivered and shifted my weight from right to left, the snow was beginning to burn. “Come on girl!” I said patting my thighs. The dog ran up to me, up the stairs, and into the house to attack her water dish. “Great,” I said to myself, “the dog will go up stairs but she won’t go down them.”
I walked back into the house and closed the door behind me. “Now I need coffee,” I said wiping my feet on the rug that was in front of the kitchen door. I started brewing the coffee and pretty soon was sitting at the table wishing I had a newspaper to read.
I looked under the table at the dog who was sitting on my feet, her warm body acting like a blanket. “Thanks, Avery,” I said to her. She raised her head and looked at me, almost as if she knew her name already. “I guess if you bring me out into the snow the best way to make it up to me is to be my slippers.” I laughed at my own joke. She placed her head back down on the tiled floor. “Think I can train you to get me the paper?” I asked the sleepy looking puppy. She raised her head again, her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth. “I guess it’s a little too early for that one.” I let go of the table cloth and looked for something on the table to read while I drank my coffee. I picked up a magazine and flipped through it, making a face at it’s contents. “Ew,” I said tossing it off to the side. “Girly-mags.” I sighed to my only company: the dog. “Well I guess being the only man in a house of women is starting to rear it’s ugly head. I wonder if one day little TJ, that’s Taylor Junior in case you are wondering, and I will be tossing around a baseball in the backyard.” I started to ponder my thought aloud. “That could be nice, having a son. A little man around the house, wreaking havoc just like his old man.” I laughed. “I love having girls though. Girls are good to spoil, but I have to have a son one day. Someone to teach how to play soccer and one day play on a team that I can referee, just like my older brother, that would be your Uncle Isaac, Avery. A boy who will one day look to his old man for advice on women and I can say ‘how should I know anything about women? I’m married!’ And then my wife can hit me playfully and tell our son how a women should really be treated. A son to help me around the house, watch out for his sisters even though he’ll be younger than they are. Someone to toss around the football with, and one day teach to shave.” I sighed. “I love my girls, my princesses, but I think having a boy would be great in other ways. Don’t you think so?”
“Don’t I think so what?”
I grabbed the table cloth up and looked down at the dog in confusion. “Did you just speak?” The dog raised its head and looked up at me.
“Taylor who in the world are you talking to?”
I dropped the table cloth and glanced up at the voice, the same voice that had spoken seconds before.
“The dog,” I confessed softly to my wife as she poured herself a cup of coffee.
“You are too much,” she said pulling out the chair next to me and lowering herself down into it. “So that was you I heard talking and not the TV.” She took a sip of her coffee, looking over the cup at me, her eyes laughing.
“Yeah,” I admitted. “I was having a conversation with the dog.” I looked down at the table in embarrassment.
Clare started laughing so hard she had to put her coffee mug down. “I’m sorry!” She apologized through laughter. “Did you have a nice conversation?” She started laughing harder, hitting my arm while she laughed.
“You’re mean,” I accused pulling my arm away from her grasp. “I no talking to you anymore.” I pouted.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ll stop. I promise.” She sat up again and tried to look serious, the ends of her mouth twisting as she tried to control the laughter. Within seconds she was at it again, laughing so hard that she was pulling my arm down to the floor.
“OK, calm down,” I said with a chuckle, patting her hand. Clare sighed and calmed her laughter. “I think I’m going to go out today,” I told her after her giggles died down.
“With who?” She asked. “The dog?” She got hysterical again.
“With myself,” I spoke over her laughter. “I need to go to church.”
“But you just got here,” Clare sighed putting her head on my shoulder. “You came home practically yesterday and then we had company, we haven’t spent any time alone in ages.”
“A week,” I reminded her.
“That’s ages,” she mumbled. “When do you think you’re going to go?” She asked giving in to my plan.
“Early,” I replied.
“Is there service today?”
“No,” I said. “I just want to sit for a few minutes and have my own service.” I kissed her forehead gently, smoothing back her hair with my fingers. “I’ll be back for lunch.” Clare nodded without taking her head off of shoulder. “Come on,” I said shifting her over to her own seat. “Taylor’s just going to be gone for a few hours.”
“That’s a few hours too long,” she said matter of factly. She was getting possessive. It was too early in the morning for a mood swing but unfortunately her body didn’t think so.
I gently pulled my feet out from under the dog and stood, leaning over to kiss her lips one last time before heading upstairs to change.