My eyes opened. Sore, swollen and sticky; a result of crying myself to sleep in the smoky living room. I peeled my tongue from the roof of my mouth and let the saliva rinse away the metallic aftertaste of the sleeping pills. Still alive. I’d not attempted suicide, I’d just not been putting my full level of energy into surviving either. Couldn’t remember the last time I ate. I was pinned to the sofa by an all-consuming depression. The pink corduroy sofa. I felt something alive move under my leg and the thud of my heart sent warm, thick blood rushing to every limb. Oh yeah…the Chihuahua.
A friend had asked me/forced me to look after his Chihuahua. I think it was his attempt at helping me out of the depression that had swamped me for the last…I don’t know. The poor little shit had been sleeping on the sofa with me in the living room, breathing in my smoke and looking at me with his ridiculously large eyes, tilting his head to one side as if to ask “What’s up?” I couldn’t even offer him an answer, unless he’d just pissed on my carpet then I made it very clear what was up. I know dogs are supposed to help with depression and usually I’d agree, I am a huge fan of dogs. Give me a Golden Retriever, a Springer Spaniel, a Lab, a good big dog. But an 8 year old Chihuahua with a heart condition? That dog was depression in four legged form.
I’d watch it go out in the garden and have a shit. 9 times out of ten it would get an erection and I know they say dogs can’t smile…but he grinned from ear to ear as he did it; his tiny body arched over, hovering just above the grass, his big beady eyes focussed right on me.
He followed me from room to room, just looking at me. I hated it when he looked at me. Those glassy black eyes reflecting my image right back at me. “Yes, I know. I’m a mess. Just leave me alone.” I spoke to him out loud more than once, partly just to make sure I still had a voice and partly because his constant glare demanded it. His ears would twitch slightly, he’d redistribute the weight on his tiny little rat-like paws, lick his nose and continue to stare. I hated it.
I was angry at him. Angry at a dog who had done nothing wrong. It made me feel like even more of a bastard. I was sad for him, sad that he didn’t understand why I told him to fuck off. I called my friend and demanded that he picked the dog up and take him away. I didn’t want him around. I didn’t want anyone or anything around. So my friend came and I unceremoniously handed him over outside of my flat, still holding the heavy blue door half open so I didn’t lock myself out. The air felt weird. I’d not been outside properly for…I don’t know.
The following day I repeated the sticky eye/metallic mouth process and dragged myself to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. I put plenty of sugar in it because I’d not been eating. I stood poised with the teaspoon over the edge of the cup. I waited. I waited and waited for the little tap-tap-tap of his little rat-like paws on the lino. I wanted to talk to him, to make sure I still had a voice. Nothing. I was alone. Exactly what I thought wanted.