Jun 29

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Love Me, Love My Dog

Summary: Ari and Dale exchange notes on their first anniversary.

Dear Ariadne-

One year ago today, I fell completely in love with you.

That’s not to say we weren’t in love before. Just that, for one reason or another, we refused to admit it to each other. We certainly walked that line well for a while, didn’t we? But then in the midst of what could have been the worst week of our lives we gave in and found something amazing. You are so much more than I ever could have imagined for myself. You’re not my dream girl because even my fantasies weren’t quite as spectacular as you. The woman I used to dream of was half as beautiful as you, half as smart, a third as funny, and nowhere near as amazing in every way.

I’m not going to be one of those girlfriends who self-deprecates and asked what you’re doing with me. I know how much you love me; that’s not in question. But I’m going to strive every day to remain worthy of you, to make sure you know just how honored I am to have your love. And in honor of today, in honor of the anniversary of the first time you and I slept together, I wanted to tell you a story.

Not long after we started working together, when I was still trying to wrap my brain around the fact you were a werewolf – sorry, I know canidae is the proper term, but at the time I still thought of you in the pejorative way. I had seen the evidence myself and I had witnessed your magical appearance after the dog I brought home vanished. So there was still a part of me that was skeptical of the entire thing. It would be like if I sat you down and told you I was a space alien from the planet Melmac and I was here to eat all the cats in Seattle. My brain just wouldn’t process it.

So one night when I knew you were going out for a run, I waited down the street from your apartment and watched, and waited. When you finally came out you were already in the wolf form, so I followed you. You’d said you had a heightened sense of smell, so I had bought a different brand of perfume specifically for the pursuit. I didn’t want you to pick up my scent on the wind and think the worst of me.

I stayed pretty far back. Not out of any spy-type training but because you are fast when you’re the wolf, girl! It worked out well, though, because it meant there was less chance of you spotting me. We threaded all through downtown, down alleyways and through parks. There were times when I could tell the wolf was in charge, and other times it was almost surreal how much it resembled you. The tilt of its head or the way it lingered on the corner as it waited for a truck to pass. It was all ineffable, but as I watched you I knew without a doubt that you were telling me the truth. That wolf was you.

I kept following you through the city even though I’d achieved my goal. You went into a park and fortunately I found a walking trail that overlooked the spot you chose to transform. I hunkered down when you started turning in circles with your snout to the ground. I wasn’t sure what would happen, though by now obviously I would have recognized the signs. You stretched your body out, lifted your head, and hunched your shoulders as you rocked back onto your hind legs.

It was then that I realized what I was about to see, but I couldn’t look away. I could hear your growling and grunting even from my elevated viewpoint, and the fur receded from your body like the tide sweeping back out to sea. I watched as brown fur gave way to slick, pink flesh, your face rearranging in an unnatural way that somehow looked so normal that I wasn’t sickened by the sounds accompanying it. Your cheeks flattened out, your snout flattened, and your chin became more pointed. The fur on your head withdrew until only your natural hair remained, and it fell onto your face in a sheath.

At that point I didn’t even really acknowledge your nudity. Yes, I saw your breasts and the curve of your ass, I saw the hair between your legs and the glistening sweat on your stomach and thighs, but there was no titillation; only fascination as you dropped back down on all fours and coughed violently as the transformation concluded.

Part of me thought – and still thinks – I could see the way your skin rippled in the aftermath of your transformation even though rationally I know I was too far away. You breathed hard, huffing and puffing as the coughs tapered off and you rolled back to sit on your haunches. You had your hands between your legs, your arms covering your breasts, and you looked around to see where you had ended up.

Eventually you stood up and stretched out the last remaining kinks in your musculature. You reached up and squeezed your shoulder where it meets your neck, and you walked stiffly toward the north. I watched your stiff-legged gait, the way you rolled your hips rather than take full steps. That was the moment I decided to offer you massages. I didn’t know if it was overstepping my bounds or if you’d even agree to have this new, untested, unproven employee of yours do something so intimate, but I could see you needed it, and I was willing.

That was also the moment I knew how beautiful you were, Ariadne. I’ve never had to come to terms with the fact I’m dating a canidae. I can’t watch you transform because I know it hurts you, but that’s no different from being unable to watch your girlfriend take insulin shots or something like that. I’ve never been weirded out or disgusted by your duality because I’ve seen how beautiful it is. At the very beginning I saw how amazing it is that you have this ability.

I love you, Ariadne. All of you.

I very nearly didn’t send you this letter because it’s only our first anniversary. The first of many, the first of dozens.

Happy anniversary, Ariadne.

– Dale


I know you don’t expect this, and it’s late, but whatever. I told you I was going for a run tonight, but instead I went down to that little all-night cafe down the street from your apartment. You know the one, the place where I can see that giant dog on the side of your building? I still can’t believe you work with me and your building’s mascot is a dog. You are definitely a dog person, that’s for sure.

Okay. I’m getting off-topic, just like I knew I would. The letter you wrote me was so amazing. I’m not even sure how to process something like that. So I’m just going to write down the things I’ve always had in my mind and my heart and hope it makes some kind of sense to you.

I take pride in my independence. I ran from my mother, I cut ties with Eva, I left every person and every place that offered to support me. I tried to cling to Grace for as long as I could but eventually I even let her go. I’ve always felt the need to prove myself without help from anyone else. That’s why I should have just shook your hand, thanked you for getting me away from those kids, and gone on with my piddling little business for as long as it lasted.

But I didn’t. Not even when you came in and started making sweeping changes to my life, my business, my whole world. You changed the name of my agency! Now I can’t imagine it as anything but Bitches, but the balls on you to take that kind of initiative. Phew, baby, you really took the cake. After a lifetime of standing on my own two feet (or trying to, at least) here comes you. I didn’t ask you for help, I didn’t ask you to pick me up and put me on the right track. I never asked you to be there when I call in the middle of the night, or to rub my back when it’s so sore I think I’ll never stand upright again.

I never asked because you offered. You held your hand out and waited until I took it. And I’ll be forever grateful to you for that.

You told me the moment you first thought I was beautiful (and wow, I’m glad we shared that moment. Even if I wasn’t aware, I’m glad you were there to see it happen). So I guess I’ll do the same. Obviously I thought you were attractive the moment we met, when I was still in wolf form and I realized you were coming to my rescue. You’re adorable, Dale. But truly beautiful, inside and out, the sort of person who transcends the physical until I’m as attracted to your voice as I am to your face? Well, that’s a little trickier.

I’m shallow. You know that and I know that. When it comes to women, I’ll go for the pretty face every time. You actually saw me go for the pretty face more than once. So I would have had sex with you the first time we met, had our first meeting been less traumatic. But it wouldn’t have been making love until about ten months into our business relationship.

You called to say you were sick and wouldn’t be in to work. I told you to get plenty of rest and asked if you needed anything, and you asked for soup. I brought it over at lunch and you were on the couch, wrapped up in that ratty old afghan, wearing these thick Buddy Holly glasses. Your nose was as red as your hair, and you looked one vicious sneeze away from just dying where you lay.

It killed me that I couldn’t do anything to help you. That’s why I stayed so long that day. I was trying to find some way to make it at least a little more tolerable. I was just trying to solve the case of the sickly assistant, but then you held my hand and thanked me, and I knew it was more than that. I knew how far I would go to make you feel better, and it scared me. I held your hand until you fell asleep, and then I left the apartment and went on a long walk until my head felt screwed on right again.

I fell for you hard long before I admitted it. And when we finally took that leap, when I held you in my arms and wiped the rain from your face, it was like I was opening my eyes to the way things should always have been. Once I kissed you, I couldn’t not kiss you again. Once I had been with you, the thought of not being with you was nightmarish. So that’s why I try every day to show you how much you mean to me, and show you that you’re appreciated and loved. I may not always succeed, but I hope my batting average is at least five hundred.

I’ve never had a first anniversary. I’ve either never gotten this far, or I’ve known that things were cycling down to the point where celebrating would have been grim and morbid. But with you, the idea of a first anniversary is a foundation. It’s a starting point.

So for everything, Dale. For every back rub, for every argument, for every change big and small that got me (us) to this point, for every time you saved me from freezing to death and for every time we almost-but-never-quite… thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for always being there for me. I love you. Now I’m going to go back to your place, wake you up (sorry, but it’s still before midnight) and try not to get too antsy when you read it in front of me. Happy anniversary. I’ll plan something better for the second, I promise. I love you.

– Ari


Dale lifted her head off the pillow, her hair covering one eye. “Hey. You’re still wearing the same clothes. You didn’t use a stash.”

“No, I didn’t run.” Ari sat on the edge of the bed, the notebook paper folded into a square in her hand. She’d written Dale’s name on the front of it, and Dale eyed the cursive as Ari stroked the hair out of her face.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Ari leaned in and kissed Dale’s lips, and Dale responded without hesitation. When they parted, Ari said, “I felt bad that your gift had such a beautiful, heartfelt note and mine just said ‘To Dale.’”

“It also said ‘I heart you.’”

Ari smiled and handed the note over. “I went to write this for you. You deserve to know how I feel, especially today.”

“Aw.” Dale pushed herself up and folded her legs under the blankets. The shoulder of her green T-shirt fell to expose one bare shoulder, and Ari leaned in to kiss it. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply as Dale read. About halfway through the letter Dale twisted her arm up and rested her hand awkwardly on the back of Ari’s head. Finally she reached the end and turned to kiss Ari’s head.

“I love you, too.”
Ari sat up and brushed her cheek against Dale’s.
“Let’s get some sleep.”

Dale nodded, sucking in her bottom lip as she scooted down again. Ari undressed as Dale propped the handwritten note up on the nightstand, smiling at it before she turned off the lamp so it would be the last thing she saw before darkness descended. Ari’s legs slid against her under the blankets and she sucked in a breath.

“Ooh. Sheesh. Cold.”

“I’ve been home for five minutes. I’ve warmed up from being outside…”

“Yeah, but you’re always cold.”

“I could put on my fur coat.”


Ari snickered and snuggled against Dale under the blankets, and Dale curled against her. Dale fell asleep first, and Ari let herself be lulled to sleep by the gentle rise and fall of her breathing. They’d had a great first year together, and Ari knew that whatever Year Two threw at them, they would be able to handle it together.

Permanent link to this article: http://underdogs.geonncannon.com/love-me-love-dog/

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