Tick. Tick. Tick. The second hand was taking forever to make its frustratingly slow orbit. My professor droned on in the distance, rambling about the difference between microfibers and microtubules or some other such nonsense. I'm sure it's fascinating stuff, but when the hell would I ever use that information? And besides, it had been a long day. A very long day. Actually a very long week, if you want to look at it that way.
My presentation on global change effects on gall wasps was met with complete silence on Monday. My parents called on Tuesday to remind me that they were going on a trip to Puerto Rico this Easter and so would not be home for me to visit. My brother called on Wednesday to let me know that he and his oh-so-happy-fiancé were expecting another bundle of joy, only reminding me of my own ticking clock and lack of future prospects. Speaking of which, on Thursday my boyfriend of two years tells me that he will be going home for the weekend, leaving me alone. Fine. Bailey and I would be just fine by ourselves.
Sometimes I wondered why I was still with that big lump of lard. Okay, so he's more muscle than lard, one of the reasons I stuck around so long. Give me a break, we're all shallow when it comes right down to it. But really, he was amazingly sweet when he wanted to be, sending me flowers for no reason at all, even though I'm not a flowers type of girl I can appreciate the thought and effort. He even wore that ugly scarf I made him (it was my first time knitting, and apparently I am not cut out to be an old-fashioned home-maker) everywhere, all the time. After a while, his little idiosyncrasies just faded away and I was left loving this big, not-so-bright teddy bear. A teddy bear I would apparently be sleeping without for a few more days.
Ding! My internal alarm, set to fifty minutes, the length at which my mind starts anthropomorphizing objects and turning people into plush animals, went off, signaling the end of this molecular cell biology class. Thank God. If I knew that grad school came complete with the pointless classes I slept through in undergrad, I'm not sure I would have signed up. Though writing "PhD" after my name in five or so years would be so satisfying. For now, my satisfaction awaited at home, in the form of almost scalding, melt-your-skin-from-your-bones water with a copious amount of Mr. Bubble solution, the kind that warns you not to use too much or bathe too long in it on the back which always makes me wonder if I'll get some sort of heinous cancer in a few years. I like living dangerously.
The keys jingled into the lock, my hand shaking slightly from the left-over stress still coursing through my body. A bath was sounding absolutely fabulous right about now. Bailey could wait for his meal, my well-being definitely was taking precedence this time. Steeling myself against the storm I knew was brewing above me, I twisted the key, unlocking the apartment door and announcing my arrival to my ungrateful roommate.
Pushing into the room, I tossed my satchel towards the closet, my coat following suit in a slightly more dignified arch across the room. Kicking off my shoes, I walked through the small one bedroom towards the bathroom, my mind focusing only on the urinary-tract-infection-causing yet ultra-sweet bubble-bath calling my name.
"I see you're in a sunny mood today, Gwen." His voice rang out in the apartment. Ignoring it, I got the hot water flowing into the tub, generously adding the bubbly liquid to the strong stream. Hearing his scampering footfalls, I stripped, leaving the door ajar as I sunk into the cloudy water.
"I'm busy." I responded without opening my eyes. I heard the door squeak as he pushed it open enough to slip through.
"A bath is not busy. It's your responsibility to make me dinner."
"Go make it yourself."
"A complete lack of opposable thumbs prevents me from doing that." I finally opened my eyes in order to roll them, turning to regard Bailey. He was sitting on the bathroom floor staring at me, his mismatched beady eyes communicating his chagrin.
"Use your mouth; you never had a problem with that area before."
"Wow. Was that supposed to be a joke?" I sighed. He was such a smartass. Where the hell did he get that from?
"Bailey, can't you just wait half an hour? Thirty minutes is really not that long." My voice was bordering on whining, which I knew annoyed him.
"Maybe if you used my real name instead of that idiotic creation of your incompetent human brain." Guess I wasn't the only cranky one today.
"Fine! Satan, Lucifer, Prince of Darkness, leave me the hell alone." I sank lower, fully prepared to splash the ungrateful dog where he sat.
"That was less satisfying than I expected."
Closing my eyes again, I focused my senses on the quiet sound of Bailey's claws clinking off the linoleum floor. He was leaving, thankfully, but that didn't mean he would go quickly. No, he might have lost the battle, but he was nothing if not proud.
He was so cute once, too. Staring up at me with those big bug eyes: one pale blue surrounded by white fur, dark brown hair falling into the other black one. He was sitting back on his haunches, perfectly quiet in contrast to his older, snarling neighbors. I knew when I saw him, the cute little American bulldog puppy, that he was the one for me. That was before he opened his little mouth. That perfect quiet didn't last long.
He was good company though, more so than a normal non-talking dog would be, anyway. I just had to deal with his lip, which was more often than not pretty obnoxious. Believe me, he goes through more mood swings than a PMSing preteen. Add in his delusions that he is actually Satan reincarnated as a dog, and you get one very annoying pet. It's enough to make me want to drive back to the pound sometimes and ask for a refund. But then he shoots off those cute puppy eyes, and what girl could stay mad?
Like the time I returned from a particularly pleasant day of classes, having received the highest marks on an exam and learning that one of my upcoming finals was to be a take-home one, only to find my apartment looking like the scene of a serial killer homicide, before the police get there. My lamp, the nice one with a carved Buddha figure at the base, was lying in the hallway in five or more pieces, the good-for-the-environment-but-also-dangerously-toxic fluorescent bulb smashed to powder. My lavender drapes were in shreds, looking like a bear got loose and started playing with them like a cat would a piece of string. One of my cream couch cushions was missing a huge chunk in the right hand corner, the filling spilled across the floor. The kitchenette, well, let's just say the kitchenette looked worse than that time I had a little too much vodka and decided to make pancakes at five in the morning. And in the middle of everything, fast asleep on my bed (which was thankfully intact) lay Bailey.
"Bailey! What the fuck did you do?!"
"Hm? Oh, that. There was a battle between good and evil earlier." His eyes blinked slowly, still half asleep, no doubt exhausted from his exercise in destroying my home.
"Yeah, around 1:00 or so. Don't worry, we won."
"Yeah, those angels won't be coming back here any time soon." He laughed, oblivious to, or just not caring about, my boiling rage. "How dare they mess with the Harbinger of Death and Destruction."
"You aren't the devil!"
"Then how do you explain the battle of epic proportions that occurred in your living room?" The tell-tale signs of an epic migraine were tingling in my skull.
"You were bored and lonely and took it out on me and my apartment."
"Satan does not get lonely, mortal." He stretched, jumping off the bed and sauntering into the hallway. "Now, go clean up the aftermath before you hurt yourself. I will reward you for your troubles by sparing your soul when Hell rises up to defeat Heaven."
My Buddha lamp is still missing a head.
So the one good thing about your boyfriend not being in town and not having any plans with your friends is the privilege of wearing sweats all day long on Saturday. Thus, this lazy weekend afternoon found me so attired, parking my olive green Volvo at the local Starbucks, my mind revolving around the sweet promise of a caramel frappuccino with my name on it.
I had just spent the entire morning grocery shopping, spending most of my pathetic graduate student funds on organic food for my fussy dog and slightly-questionable-quality food for myself. It seemed like everyone's grandmothers had just pulled up in a bus returning from Atlantic City as I maneuvered my chart through the store, trying to quickly finish my errand but often finding myself stuck behind a cart-jam or a line of slow-walkers. Then, I got stuck behind the female version of the Crypt Keeper, seriously her hair was a dead-on replication, in her eighties who had made the excellent decision to pay her bill of $14.49 (one pack of Fancy Feast© cat food) entirely in pennies.
They say that bad things happen in threes, but I just knew that my day would break that rule. After all, a smooth, creamy, icy caffeinated drink awaited me in only a few minutes, and I was certain that its company would wipe away the griminess of my day thus far. That was until I saw that the couple in front of me in line consisted of a whipped, meathead boy and a ditzy, I'm-going-to-take-an-hour-to-decide-my-order-but-will-end-up-getting-water-so-as-not-to-disturb-my-calorie-free-diet bimbo. Said blonde was clinging onto the arm of her boy-toy, rambling on about how close bikini-season was but how good those lattes sounded. After a good five minutes of agonizing over her tough decision, the girl decided on a sparkling water (shocking), and the two moved down to wait on their order.
After placing my order and taking a few deep breaths to relieve my annoyance with the human race as a whole, all the while chanting a mantra in my head about the glory of the drink before me, I moved to wait some space behind the now making out couple. That's when I noticed it, the one thing that could stand in between me and my future coffee bliss. The afore named meathead was wearing a knit black and green scarf that looked remarkably like the one I had made for my boyfriend a few months earlier, complete with the one stitching flaw that I had noticed only after finishing the entire length.
As the breath left my lungs in a whoosh, my right arm shot up to tug on the scarf, yanking the man's swollen lips from their previous occupation.
"Hey!" He turned to face me, his protest dying on his tongue. "Shit. Gwen. Uh, I can explain."
"Yeah, I can't wait to hear it."
"Boo, who's that?" The other woman's voice squeaked out. I was too upset to even mock her little nickname.
"Kelly, I can definitely explain this." He was starting to stutter now.
"Be my, excuse me, our guest."
"Gwen is my, um, girlfriend…."
"What?!" Her screech almost hit those frequencies that only dogs could hear.
"But, but, I was going to break it off real soon, love. It's over between us. You know I love only you, bear."
"Well, that's a surprise to me." He turned to address me, his eyes wide, almost as if he forgot I was standing right there.
"I mean, Gwen, this isn't what it looks like."
"Yeah, alright." I pushed past him, grabbing my cold, delicious drink from the counter. "I have groceries that need to get to my fridge pronto."
Shaking his hand off my shoulder, I stormed out of the café, refusing to look back. It wasn't until I was safely inside my car, pulling away that I felt the tears start to fall.
The rapid scratching at my bedroom door woke me from the nap I had drifted into, the ordeal of crying sapping the energy from me. I turned from the damp pillow as Bailey entered the room, his head coming to rest of the edge of the bed level with my own. We just stared at each other for a while, the room quiet besides my sporadic sniffles.
"It was the oaf, wasn't it?" He questioned softly.
"Yeah." I cleared my throat, trying to get the sound of tears out of my voice. "I saw him making out with some floozy."
"How fitting." Bailey had never warmed up to my hulking significant other. He apparently was a better judge of character than myself.
"Two years, Bailey. Two fucking years of my life, and this is what I get?" Despite my best efforts, my tone was watery.
"Can you really tell me that you didn't expect this? You know you didn't love the lout. You're just mad that he's the one who broke it off."
I groaned, annoyed with how callous, and right, Bailey was being.
"If it makes you feel any better, I can make sure his eventual eternity in hell is extra agonizing. Adultery is one of the big no-no's so there's no doubt where he's going." I chuckled, wiping at my eyes. As much as I hated to admit it, the egotistical dog was right. Our relationship hadn't been the love of my life, it was just comfortable, and we both knew that we were just bidding our time until we each found something better. He just beat me to it; I shouldn't be surprised, finishing first seemed to happen quite often with him.
"You better stick to that promise."
"Just as long as you get your cute ass in the kitchen…now."
I sighed, smiling in spite of my attempts not to, as I rolled from the bed, clambering out of the dim room.
"You know, Bailey, even though you try to be a hard-ass, you can be very sweet sometimes."
"Shut up, mortal." He followed, nipping gently at my heels as I made my way to the kitchenette. "And that's 'Lord of Evil,' to you."
"Yeah, yeah." My smile just lengthened as I set out to make an amazing meal for the both of us, further proving to myself that that "Boo" was an idiot for letting me go and that I did not need a man to be happy. Well, maybe I just needed one male, though he was anything but a man. Although it meant that making a simple meal took about a half hour longer ("What is this? You are serving me raw meat? I come from a land of fire and brimstone and you expect me to eat uncooked food? Back to the kitchen with you, wench!"), I never got to watch anything I wanted on TV ("You call this entertainment? You might be simple-minded, but I will not let my brain rot."), and my wake-up call was usually five o'clock in the morning ("I must be taken outside. Lucifer cannot and will not be so undignified to 'go' in the house.") I really wouldn't have it any other way. And though Bailey constantly reminded me that his time on this Earth was limited as he would someday return to reign over the underworld, I hoped that that day was far in coming.