Your boyfriend adopts a pet without asking you about it first. “You should have called me,” you say. Your boyfriend tells you that he found the pet by the side of the road. “I don’t think we’re ready for a pet,” you say.
You and your boyfriend are not ready for a pet. One day you realize that the pet’s water dish has been empty and you don’t know for how long. The pet looks at you with its big eyes and it makes you feel bad. You’re late to work that day. Your boyfriend never remembers to feed the pet and when you confront him about it he says it was your turn to feed the pet. It wasn’t your turn, and you make a chart about whose turn it is to feed the pet so this doesn’t happen again, but the chart disappears. Your boyfriend says the pet ate it, but the pet is so skinny you don’t believe it.
You reluctantly take responsibility for the pet. You take it outside to go to the bathroom, you teach it tricks, you give it treats, and you play with it to make sure it gets exercise. You give it baths, covering your eyes with your hand because you feel uncomfortable watching it bathe. Once, you think you catch it watching from the door while you and your boyfriend are having sex, but when you get up to check, it’s not there.
Over time, your efforts at caring for the pet never seem more than perfunctory. You hoped this would be a rewarding experience but mostly you find the pet incredibly boring. It’s not the pet’s fault, you remind yourself, and try to keep an open mind about the pet. But you can’t help finding the pet tedious. All it does is cry and ask where its parents are, and you keep saying, I don’t know, I don’t know.
Zachary Doss is the editor of Black Warrior Review and fiction editor of Banango Street. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Fairy Tale Review, Caketrain, DIAGRAM, New South, and others. He lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.