Big If (Rewrite)

If dogs lived as long as people, eventually, they’d get tired of us.

Maybe they became independent all those times we left them alone to go work or run out to the grocery store. Maybe they were having a crisis, and wanted to go see what else was out there, to find their place in the world. Maybe all they needed was a night out, by themselves.

And that would break our hearts.

“Karen,” they’d say, “It’ll be okay.”

No matter how many times we tell them our name isn’t Karen, or Dave, they’ll still call us that. And we never know if it’s because they don’t remember our real names, or care to remember, or the idea of our names being something else doesn’t even register. Because, really, they’re not like us.

And if we ask how long they’ll be gone, they’ll say they don’t know. That it all depends on what they find out there. Maybe we’ll be strong, but we probably wouldn’t. We brought them into our homes so that something would love us. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we’ll know that’s selfish. But we probably wouldn’t. We’d try to discourage them. Tell them how dangerous it is. How cold. How indifferent. How they’ll miss the comforts we provide.

And they’ll say they know it won’t be easy. That that’s the point. We’d try to be brave, but we’d pout. We’d be childish. We might say things like, “after everything I’ve done for you,” or “most dogs don’t have it so good.” Their big eyes would look up at us. They away. We’d know they were disappointed. That they’d expected us to act that way, but hoped we wouldn’t.

“Were we worried about them or ourselves?” they’d ask, and we’d realize they knew us well. Too well. How they’d been studying us for years, and found us lacking. And that realization would crush us.

“Go then,” we’d say, “but come back soon.”

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