Just a Dog by Tim Frank

The dog was named Potato and she resented being a pet. She was well aware of her intellectual superiority to her owner, Pank, an overweight twelve-year-old schoolboy who played Top Trumps for dead spiders, liked mint Crispy Cremes and enjoyed stamping on puddles.

Potato was drawn to her fair share of mundane interests too: chasing raccoons through the brambles at the far end of the garden, and playing fetch with her sticky neon ball, which she found endlessly fascinating – though the repetition often reminded her of the Myth of Sisyphus.

Her life was comfortable but she wanted more – to be an intellectual decoding French symbolist poetry or studying propaganda in modern day Russia. So, in order to elevate her mind, Potato would drag Pank’s science homework into the musty boiler room and leaf through it with her moist nose, page by page. After her studies she would treat herself to a kebab using the takeout app on Pank’s phone.

One morning, while Potato was meditating on the nature of absolute zero, she was interrupted by Pank who scolded her for drinking out of the toilet bowl once again. Potato was pretty down on herself about her conduct and wondered what compelled her to act in such an uncouth manner. Wasn’t she above such antics? Wasn’t she too cerebral for this type of behaviour? She tried to explain herself to Pank and in the process hoped to find answers for herself.

“Master,” she began, “we’ve known each other for some time now and I want to apologise for my behaviour. And yet I can’t help but feel I’m not the only one to blame. Both you and I know you’ve been holding me back – you know I need more mental stimulation than is currently offered. So, I think we’re at a crossroads. I have demands: more freedom and more education. Also, it may be wise for you to throw in a trainer to help me overcome my baser instincts.”

Pank ruffled the hair under Potato’s neck. Before she knew it, she was lying on her back begging for her belly to be rubbed.

“You really are a good dog,” said Pank.

“You’re not listening to me as usual,” said Potato, suddenly feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

“I have a gift for you,” said Pank, and he unwrapped a glitter-speckled frisbee. Potato sighed, feeling misunderstood. But when Pank flung the toy along the hall Potato quickly scampered after it, nails scraping against the tiled floor, barking mischievously. In that moment nothing else in her life seemed to matter. She was a dog pure and simple.

Tim Frank’s short stories have been published in Bourbon Penn, Menacing Hedge, Eunoia Review, Maudlin House and elsewhere. He is the associate fiction editor for Able Muse Literary Journal.