I clicked open the door to our house and stood in the hallway, taking a deep long breath.
Hmmm, this is not going to go so well.
I heard running water from the kitchen. Mary seemed to be cleaning up. Three days in a row she had finished her dinner without waiting for me.
I had to make a quick decision – walk to the kitchen first or tiptoe to the bedroom?
But really, what was I scared of?
The universe was not intent on giving me a choice, though.
“John, is that you?” Came Mary’s voice from the kitchen.
“Yes, hon,” I shout back, pacing through the hallway.
Suddenly Zeus was all over me. He was a new addition to our house, a cute little Golden Retriever puppy that I found lost on the street a couple of weeks back. We put up flyers to enquire if anybody was missing him, but no one had called yet.
I bent down and picked him up. ‘Hey Zeus!! How are you buddy!” He excitedly licked at my ears.
“You both seem to be bonding pretty nicely.” I looked up and found Mary standing outside the kitchen, arms crossed over her chest. If I sensed coldness in her voice, it was only maximized by the steely look in her eyes.
“Hmph,” I smiled, trying to lighten the situation. “Isn’t he just adorable!”
Mary frowned, and then started to say something but stopped. You know a balloon that’s on the verge of bursting? It had been more or less the same between me and Mary ever since Zeus entered our lives.
“He’s gotta go, John,” she said finally, “You promised me, remember?”
“Yes, hon, I know that. But I thought, I mean I was hoping, with time – ”
“What did you hope, John?” She cut me before I could finish. “That I would be all okay with that dog of yours and that he could live with us forever? Is that what you really thought?” Her tone grew more fierce with each word.
“Yes, I did, what’s wrong with that?”
“EVERYTHING! Don’t you see it? Just look around, will you! He makes a mess out of every damn thing! He chewed on my favorite shoes the day before, and I can’t wear them anymore! But I resisted. Today he destroyed my dissertation papers, do you have any idea how much I struggled for them?? It’s all gone!”
“I’m sorry but puppies are like that at the start, but they eventually learn. Why are you keeping your stuff at his reach then? Maybe YOU needed to be more careful!!” I was slowly losing my patience too.
“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE TURNING THIS AROUND ON ME!!” She threw up her hands in the air. “Why am I supposed to change for that stupid dog when-”
“His name is Zeus – ”
“Zeus,” she mocked. “You know what? I’m done with that dog! Do you smell something? It’s his poo on the staircase. THANK YOU for not potty training him!”
“Hon,” I said softly. “Does it not matter to you that I happen to like him?”
“I could say the same.”
“But – Why are you so upset about him? A lot of families make it work, so why can’t we?”
I put Zeus down on the floor. He made a low wailing sound and curled up near my feet.
“He’s quite a handful, I agree,” I said. “And I’m sorry it’s affecting you this way. But trust me, it will get better. Dogs make the best companions! I come home and see his excited face all the love he gives me, it makes my day better! Wait- are you jealous?? Is that what it is?” I spurted out and regretted a moment too late.
But Mary simply looked down. Words were not spoken, but we both understood. Truth is, we had been drifting apart for quite sometime now. The love that we felt for each other was not the same anymore.
I need to correct this. I slowly went up to her and pulled her into my arms. She didn’t resist, in fact she looked a tad frail.
“Hon, we can make this work,” I whispered into her hair. “Zeus coming into our lives is actually a good thing, in a way. He brought out the worst in us but he can also bring out the best. Think of it as preparation, for when you are ready to have a baby.”
Mary sighed. And then tightened her arms around me. Zeus was prancing up and down the stairs.
“I think I’m ready now.”