Silence Says It All

Silence Says It All

A Story by <Abby.Autopsy>

A fiction project of boredom



In my first 2 years of life as a widow, I never believed that I would get a dog. But in the third year, many surprises awaited me. The first one was the death of my cat. Magpie was very old. I should have saw it coming. She had been around for as long as I can remember so death seemed out of the question. I came home from a night out with the girls, to find the small tortoise-shell tabby laying, curled up in the curtains. The fact that she was dead didn’t hit me with full force until morning. I stayed in bed and cried. I covered the body with the curtains but couldn’t bring myself to dispose of it. My neighbor came and did so later.

            After Magpie’s death, I couldn’t stand to see the other neighborhood cats and I became fond of dogs. A good friend of mine, Tiffany, had a high-strung terrier named Suzie. The little dog had problems of some sort. My friend thought A.D.H.D. But she was precious. She was a perfectly happy dog and I began wanting another pet. A dog. Maybe a terrier even.

            I took care of Suzie countless times when Tiffany went out of town. I’d take her on walks, chasing after squirrels with her but steering clear of any cats. I didn’t want her chasing any of them.   

On one of our walks, it was a particularly hot day. Both Suzie and I were dragging our feet. I stopped for a while, letting Suzie off the leash. First mistake. She ran around for a bit; tongue lolling out of her mouth, then lay down a few yards away. I watched her awhile, until she settled in with her head on her paws, panting slightly. I closed my eyes and leaned back against a tree. Second mistake. Just an instant after I closed my eyes, Suzie began barking. It wasn’t a normal bark, though. It was high pitched sounding. It scared me. I sat up quickly to see her on her feet, back a bristle, eyes on a tall lanky dog that was trotting across the street. Its eyes were focused straight ahead and it wheezed when it panted. It looked wild, like a stray. Suzie carried on and on.

“No, Suzie. No, bad girl.” I scolded her loudly as I got slowly to my feet, not worried because the dog didn’t seem even vaguely interested in us. Suzie looked over at me walking towards her, and taking it as some kind of signal, I suppose, she took off.

“ No!” I don’t think I’d ever screamed louder than I did that day. Suzie’s little legs were working as she gained on the tall, bony dog. She kept on yipping and growling the whole time.

Surprised at the sudden attack, the gangly mongrel spun around and snarled, upper lip curled. He barked viciously and braced himself as Suzie bravely threw herself at his knobby foreleg. I grimaced and could feel the tears gathering as I screamed hoarsely at the big dog. My legs felt like rubber bands and I couldn’t help but stop running. I was sobbing by the time the dog had thrown little Suzie to the pavement and gone on his way. I just sat there, head in hands, not wanting to look at the scene portrayed in front of me.

A few minutes later, though it seemed like centuries, an young man who looked about 20 came out of his house to find out what had happened. I couldn’t talk. I was shaking to hard. It must have been awkward for the man as he hugged me, a sobbing 49-year-old woman and told me he’d get the dog.

When he brought Suzie over I cried even harder. Her breathing was ragged and her whole front end and neck were ripped up. She blinked and looked up at me. When I touched her torn shoulder, her tail thumped slightly against the young man’s arm. My voice shook as I told him she wasn’t my dog. He let out a breath, like a deflated balloon and told me that it wasn’t my fault. I knew it was.

An hour later, Suzie’s battered and bruised body was still, thanks to Dr. Leberny and euthanasia. Tiffany had been told the news and was rushing home, and I had gone to my house, and, once again, crawled in bed for the rest of the day. I didn’t sleep, and once Tiffany got home, we both cried some more.

It’s a month later now, and I’ve just barely gotten over Suzie’s death. Tiffany seemed to want to get over “the accident” and one day she called and said, “ I’m getting another dog.”

So Tiffany and I drove, that day, to the local shelter to look at the dogs that had been dropped off or picked off the street.

“ A lot of these dogs are in bad shape,” I told her, hoping to hinder her excitement so maybe she would reconsider. But it just made her more determined.

“ I know that. But, that’s all the more reason to give one a loving home.”

I just sighed and agreed. What else was there to do? Obviously, she WAS getting a dog.

As we entered the reflective, glass doors of the Westchester Animal Shelter, I was hit instantly by the strong smell of ammonia and fur. A kind looking younger woman, whose youth I envied greatly, showed us the door to the kennels.

The moment we stepped inside the long, concrete-floored room, barking erupted. Most was deep and almost vicious sounding, some high-pitched and startling. The caged animals smelled musty, dank, grayish water floating in metal bowls. Their food was the same, nauseating color.

Tiffany walked slowly down the isle, looking over each dog carefully, unfazed by the dogs that tried continuously to attack her through the chain-link. I preferred to keep my distance.

In a matter of seconds, Tiffany had found a young looking puppy that caught her eye. I left her to baby talk her little friend, moving slowly along the row of cages. Most of the dogs were at the front, pressing towards me, begging for attention. A few cowered in the back, the expressions on their faces unreadable. These dogs made me nervous and most were bruiser type dogs. Pit bulls, boxers, etc.

I was about to turn around and tell Tiffany we should go when I came to the cage of a very interesting dog. I stopped and looked in at the creature. He sat right in front of me, his nose only inches from the cage door. He was cute I had to admit, but something about him was haunting almost. The way he was looking at me, expressionless. His eyes never left mine; the only sound coming from him was the slight panting. I looked at him uneasily, and then looked away.

As soon as my eyes left his and went to the floor, the cage door shook. I jumped, startled, and looked back at the dog. He had placed his off-white paw on the latch and lowered his head. He looked up at me, staring the way he had before. I turned away. It was sad. I didn’t understand it. He knew that I could save him from this place, from the clutches of euthanasia. And so did I.

“Who’s this?” Tiffany’s perky voice startled me and I turned toward her suddenly. “I-I don’t know. But, Tiff, this is the strangest dog. I mean really. He just, I don’t know, it’s like he’s staring into my soul or something.”

“Wow, Gretchen. That’s amazing.” The joking tone in her voice annoyed me and I looked back at the dog. When she saw I wasn’t kidding she looked at him too. He was now looking at her, with such intensity he could’ve stared a hole right through her head.

“See? See? I told you…it’s weird isn’t it?” She nodded.

The dog looked back at me before backing all the way to the towel in a corner of the enclosure and lying down on it, head on his paws. He never took his eyes off me.

“Ok, Gretchen, c’mon. Let’s go.” Tiffany grabbed my arm and tried walking. “It’s getting late and Rob is coming for dinner.” Rob being Tiffany’s guy friend, like she called it.

I shook my head. “I don’t know,” I said. “ I kind of like him. And I’ve always wanted a dog…”

“Gretchen, you never wanted a dog, never the less a dog that stares at you.”

“ Well, I want this dog. Getting him just feels right.”

“Ok, you know what, your decision. But, make it another day because I got to get home.”

I nodded and finally tore myself away from the dog. When I looked back, I couldn’t see him anymore, but I had a feeling I would see him very soon.


*                              *                              *                             *                              *


I managed to put the dog out of my mind for 3 weeks. But at the end of the third week, I was flipping through the paper, sipping a cup of coffee, when I saw him. The dog. His picture was in the paper. Every week the animal shelter put in a picture of a dog or cat that was either recently brought in or had been there for too long. Despite the way the dog had stared at me, his face was turned to the side in this picture and he was eyeing the camera warily. Although you couldn’t see him straight on, it was still a wonderful picture. His profile was cute, a long muzzle, one ear flopping over, the other sticking up.

I sighed as I studied the picture. The way he eyed the camera made it seem like he was watching me with such caution. My gaze fell upon the number of the shelter directly below a description of the dog. I looked at the number for at least five minutes before eventually picking up the phone lying on the table beside my coffee mug. I dialed and waited.

“Westchester Animal Shelter. May I help you?”

Pursing my lips, I let out a breath.


“Yes…I-I would like to adopt a dog…”


*                              *                              *                              *                              *


The day came to pick up the dog. My house had been inspected and approved, and I had been advised to put up baby gates wherever I didn’t want the dog to go.  I was taking him on a month trial, so the animal shelter workers could be sure that he would be happy with his new home. I drove to the animal shelter, a bundle of nerves. I felt like a proud mother, picking up her child from his first day of school.

The thick, glass doors felt so cold and heavy under my hot, sweaty palms. The same receptionist as last time sat behind the tall desk, flipping through an old copy of PEOPLE magazine. I stood in front of the desk, feeling like a little girl rather than an almost fifty-year-old woman. The young woman glanced up, closing the magazine.

“May I help you, honey?”

I opened my mouth to say something, closing it quickly when she called me “honey”. I blew through my nose and looked sideways at her. It was just a reaction, but I knew it was rude. I just wasn’t to keen on a teenager calling me honey.

“Umm, yes. You can actually. I’m here to pick up the dog. My dog.”

The woman looked confused. “Did you receive information that it was brought here?”

“Oh! Oh no. No, I didn’t lose a dog. I adopted one. He's in the last cage. Umm…he’s kind of timid. Medium sized.”

She was quiet for a minute, looking down at her hands, brow wrinkled. Suddenly, she looked up at me and smiled.

“Oh yes! You must be the one who adopted Silence. Oh, we were so glad when you called. He really is a sweet dog.”

“Did you say Silence?”

“Silence, yes. That’s what we call him around here. He never barks. He just has a quiet disposition about him, you know?”

I nodded, slowly. “Yes, I do know. That’s the first thing I noticed.”

“Well, anyway. I guess you’d like to take him home.” She picked up a stapled packet and folded it back, studying it for a moment. “Well, it seems that you have every thing signed and paid. I’ll go get him for you.”

I leaned against the desk; fiddling with the hem of my shirt, jumping as the door to the kennels swung open, Silence gliding out, quiet as his name. He stood in the room, sniffing the air casually. He noticed me quickly and watched me just as intensely as the first time I met him. I had a feeling that Silence was not like other dogs. Tentatively, I inched forward, extending my hand, not sure what to expect. Silence looked at me, and I thought that if he were human, he would be smirking. Then, just to appease me, he sniffed my hand then sat down and licked it. Acting like this was routine, he looked away, out the window, at some distant interest.

I have to admit, I was a bit hurt. I didn’t expect him to jump all over me, though that would have been nice. But I at least expected a tail wag or some kind of joyful acknowledgement. Instead, he simply stood as I was handed the leash, and turned toward the door. The woman filled me in on him a little more and handed me a pamphlet titled “My First Dog”. I took it and thanked her then looked down at Silence. He glanced up at me, then back at the door and stepped forward. He wanted out; and I was his ticket.

As soon as I reached the car and opened the door he was inside and standing on the backseat, his fore paws propped on the windowsill. I tried my best to ignore the smudgy prints his nose left on the tinted glass. I climbed into the driver’s seat and drove out of the parking lot, sadly feeling less excited then I did when I was driving to the shelter.

The whole ride home was strange. I was taking home my new dog and I felt awkward, like a teenage girl on her first date.

“I think you’ll like it at my house,” I said, pretty loudly. I glanced in the rearview mirror. Silence was watching the back of my head. He yawned; his thin jaws opening wide and lay his head on his little front paws. I sighed and turned into my driveway.

Once inside, Silence stood in the doorframe, looking unsure. I ushered him in and closed the door. He looked up at me, just staring like he had the first time I met him, and then trotted into the kitchen. He circled the island and sniffed the closed pantry door. He hesitated in the living room to look at my fish tank, which was empty except for a cleaner shrimp and a skinny silver minnow.

When he reached the short staircase, he studied the five steps carefully before giving a grunt and leaping directly onto the second floor, legs tucked neatly beneath him. He landed quietly and walked down the hall. I followed him. I found him in the guest room, on the bed. He was circling, nose pressed to the comforter. 

“No, bad dog. Get off.” I didn’t want the bed being disheveled or peed on. Silence stared at me, not bothering to lift his head from the bedspread. Finally, he jumped down and walked out of the room, watching me over his shoulder. It was weird, but something about him scared me. I didn’t know what to expect from him.

I could here his long toenails clicking down the hall and I smiled when I heard the thump of him landing at the bottom of the stairs and trotting away.


*                               *                               *                             *                              *


The trial month passed quickly. I tried relentlessly to make friends with Silence. I fed him loads of treats and patted him. He’d let me stroke him, but he’d get bored with the attention and walk away. After a while, I just kind of avoided him. He spent most of the time watching the minnow swimming around the fish tank. Every now and then I’d find him curled up at the foot of the guest bed. As soon as I walked into the room, he’d jump down and trot out, watching me warily. I think he was scared of me.

The shelter volunteer came on a Sunday afternoon. I was eating a sandwich, watching Silence in the backyard from a living room window. The main door was propped open so I could hear him panting and the birds chirping through the screen door.               

The sound of the doorbell startled me and at the sound of my yelp, Silence trotted to the door, head cocked, peering inside. He pushed the door with one paw and walked inside.

Silence followed me to the front door, and when I opened it, he slowly eased behind my legs.

“Good morning! I’m here to confirm your ownership of this dog.” The woman in the door gestured at Silence as if I didn’t know. I nodded.

I stepped aside to let her come inside. I was caught off balance when suddenly Silence thrust his head in between my legs to watch the woman from the safety of…me.

The gesture surprised me because Silence had always been calm about all people he’d ever met. The woman laughed. “He looks a little nervous. Looks to me like you’re his protector.”

“What?” I looked down at Silence’s head poking from between my knees. He looked up at me with ears forward, his expression curious. He whimpered.

I was shocked. “C’mon buddy. She’s not going to hurt you.” I clutched his collar and pulled him from between my knees. He pressed against my calves, eyeing the woman.

“Hey boy. You’re so good. Yes, you are.” The lady edged forward, bending down so she was eye level with Silence. Suddenly, he growled, low and long.

“Silence!” At the sound of his name, he cowered, hunched to the floor and trotted to the stairs. He was headed to the guest room.

“Well, he obviously loves you.” I looked at the woman.


“Don’t you realize? He was protecting you. He didn’t want me to hurt you. He’s not scared at all. He’s just doesn’t want anything to happen to you.”

I stood for a second, letting that thought sink in.

“Wow. Really?”

The woman nodded, smiling. “I think he’ll be perfectly happy here. I’ll tell the other volunteers that you definitely have yourself a dog. It would be cruel for me to take him from you. Or rather, you from him.”

Smiling, the woman let herself out.



© 2008 <Abby.Autopsy>

Author's Note

ignore grammar. idk if this is any good but i was just really REALLY bored to death. haha please comment :]

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oh and if you didnt notice>>unfinished but will work on it soon so tell me if you want more

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