[Back to Daily Post prompt responses. Going to use these as an opportunity to develop Butch, the character from my novel I’ve done the least with. Today’s topic — animals.]
Butch nearly jumped back when he placed his left foot on the bottom stair up to his family’s front door, the sudden loud barking from inside the house jarring him. Regaining his composure, Butch ascended the remaining two steps of the wooden stairway (creaking audibly under his weight), the barking growing louder with each step, then finally disolving into guttural simpering as Butch opened the door.
“Hey boy.” The enormous Saint Bernard padded across the linoleum floor, thick streams of drool dripping from his drooping jowls as he pounced into the teen’s arms. Butch was the only member of the Goodman family who still gladly accepted the dog’s slobbering embraces.
Butch held the beast by its front legs, let its tongue paintbrush his chin. “You normally don’t bark when I come home!”
“You’re normally not home this late.” Standing at the kitchen sink and rinsing a metal pot, Faith Hutchinson spoke in a tone that commanded attention, even with her back turned. “Ezekiel is smarter than he looks.”
Butch released his left hand, rubbed Ezekiel’s head, the dog picking up the cue to come down from his pounce. Faith shut off the water at the sink, her back still turned towards her son. “And how was your fencing practice today?”
“Oh!” Butch heard something in his mother’s voice that told him she was requesting something more meaningful than a polite response. “It was — good. There’s a lot I need to learn.” Ezekiel whimpered loudly, looking up at Butch, who looked down in confusion.
“How many nights a week do you have practice?” Faith’s voice lifted slightly with each syllable.
“Oh!” Ezekiel whimpered again. “Just Tuesday. Has Ezekiel eaten yet?”
Faith turned on her heels, her arms crossing beneath her chest, a grim smile on her face. “Of course not.”
“Oh!” The dog’s whimper sounded desperate. “I — guess I forgot to tell Asher to feed him before I left today.”
“I don’t care about you’re forgetting.” Faith’s face was cold, like it had never been warmed with a smile. “What bothers me, is you not making sure your chores are completed. Every member of this family has responsibilites, Benjamin, and you’re being on this fencing team does not mean you get to ignore them.” Ezekiel was no longer whimpering. “Do you understand?”
Butch looked down at floor. “Yes, mother.” He walked silently toward the cupboard containing the dog food, Ezekiel padding excitedly behind him. And while he did think of asking if he would be punished for his over failure, he knew it would be wise to not ask a question whose answer was so obvious.