Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 19

“I mean,” Cally said, interpreting the look, “I was out, taking Marna back home. She’s coming down with flu. But I didn’t mean to intrude,” she added, glancing at Imogen. She had noticed two drained coffee mugs on the desk, too.

Tim waved a hand dismissively.

“No worries. Imogen and I are working with Chap, but it’s quite a slow process and entails lots of sitting about and drinking coffee! To be honest, I’m not sure we’ve made much progress yet, have we, Imogen? It’s a little disappointing.”

Imogen had taken a seat opposite him and there was something indisputably easy and relaxed about the atmosphere between them, Cally thought as she stood, feeling slightly awkward, by the door.

“Nope. Still barks as much as ever the minute I’m out of sight. Though –” She cocked an ear and stared at Tim. “Listen – it’s gone quiet!”

All three stilled, ears straining.

“Do you think he’s slipped his lead and run away?” Imogen whispered, staring towards the office door which stood ajar behind Cally.

“Could be the treatment’s finally working,” Tim countered.

Treading softly, he went to the door and pulled it wider, and gave a soft chuckle as he peeked outside.

“Come and see this,” he murmured.

Cally and Imogen pressed in behind him to peer over his shoulder.

Annie had settled in a shaft of sunlight right outside the door, and Chap was curled up against her flank. His own rubber toy was discarded beside him, and in his paws instead was a beaten-up old green tartan slipper.

“Aw, bless!” Cally exclaimed.

“Where’s he got that from?” Imogen wondered, and Tim laughed.

“It’s Annie’s. She dug it out from under the bed and carries it everywhere with her now. But I can’t imagine she let him take it off her. She must have given it to him.”

“And do you think that’s why he’s finally stopped barking, or is it because of Annie herself?”

Cally hoped it wasn’t because of Annie. She didn’t relish Tim and Imogen having an excuse to spend even more time together.

“Let’s see. You stay out here, Imogen. Come on, girl, let’s go inside.” He clicked his tongue and Annie got to her feet and ambled into the office at his heels.

Cally and Imogen both watched Chap. His eyes followed Annie, but apart from gripping the slipper more firmly and resting his chin on it, he didn’t stir.

After a couple of minutes, Tim’s head appeared round the door.

“Come back in now, Imogen, but leave Chap there.”

Both girls went back indoors, and on Tim’s instruction Cally closed the door.

She was aware of the tension radiating off Tim and Imogen as they waited in silence. When two or three minutes had passed without a sound from Chap, Tim exhaled.

“I think we might have cracked it!”

“I take it that’s a major breakthrough?” Cally asked, and Tim and Imogen both nodded, their smiles broadening by the minute.

“You have no idea!” Imogen exclaimed.

“Clever Annie!” Tim added, fondling the dog’s ears.

“The only problem now is, Chap seems to have laid claim to Annie’s toy,” Imogen pointed out. “We can’t take it with us or Annie might fret – and one fretful dog is more than enough!”

“It’s OK. Luckily slippers come in pairs. There’s another one just like it still under the bed. She’ll be happy with that one, I’m sure. Problem solved.”

Suddenly Cally remembered her own problem and gathered up her car keys.

“I’d better be going. With Marna being ill I’ll take twice as long to get everything done. And I’m pretty full at the moment. But it’s been great to be here for this happy ending!”

She saw Tim and Imogen exchange rueful smiles.

“I don’t know about a happy ending yet,” Tim said. “That’s the first step, but we’ve still a lot of work to do.”

Which will mean spending lots more time together, Cally thought as she drove home. And she wasn’t happy about that, not one little bit.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.