Wednesday, August 28, 2013


The Hungry Dog
By Laura Beasley

He stubbed his toe walking in the woods. He should have worn boots. Leaving at night, he had not bothered to search for them. He’d have to make the best of his journey with bare feet. He made his way along the overgrown path feeling every stone. His life in the castle had not prepared him for this adventure.

After walking all day, he entered the abandoned cottage. He sat in the chair and collapsed his head on the table. The boy was awakened the next morning by the singing of an enchanted mouse. She fed him a lunch of filbert, hazelnut and pecan pie. When she offered to be his sweetheart, he shook her paw between his thumb and index finger and suggested they be friends.

After his second day of barefoot trekking on pine needles and sticks, he slept on a cot in the second cottage until awakened by the sound of humming. Having met the singing mouse, he was less shocked to meet a cat capable of speech. The cat entertained him with the adventure of a foolish woodcutter’s daughter who became a princess. The cat outwits a troll to provide the girl with her own Castle of Cattenborg. The boy and cat consumed breaded smelt, pan-fried skate with black butter, gefilte fish and tuna casserole with frosted flakes and frozen peas. After lunch, the cat offered to be his girlfriend.

The boy wrapped both hands around her paw. “You are one of my best friends who is a girl or a girl-cat.”

He was not surprised to find a minimally furnished cottage at the end of the path on the third day. He napped on the couch and expected to be awakened by a talking animal. He opened his eyes when he heard whistling by the golden dog named Mustard. She explained she freed her dragon-hunting master from imprisonment by a dishonest king. The tale she wove included a white dog (Salt) stealing food and a black dog (Pepper) killing the dragon to rescue the princess. Mustard had teeth strong enough to bite through iron bars.

“With teeth like mine, you’ll do what I say.” Said the dog.

“I guess you want to get married and you’re not going to feed me lunch.” Said the boy.

“You’ll bring me lunch. I’d like the cat from the second cottage. Wearing these doeskin moccasins you’ll run like the wind.”

The boy laced up the shoes and found a happy cat at the second cottage.

“You’ve decided we’ll marry. I knew you were kidding about ‘only’ being friends.” Said the cat.

Noticing her claws, he hesitated, “I want you to meet someone in the next cottage, will you come with me?”

“If you want me to meet the dog, you’ll have to let me eat the mouse. Wear these mukluks to fetch her.”

Wearing mukluks, he returned to the mouse’s cottage. When she heard him, she changed into her wedding gown and called her rat footman to bring her pumpkin coach pulled by four white gophers.

The mouse adjusted her blue garter on her furry thigh, “That’s something blue. My wedding dress is new. My mother’s pearls are old. I need something ‘borrowed.’ Here’s my groom!”

“I’m not ready to get married, I want you to meet my friend.”

“The mukluks mean you plan to feed me to the cat. Then you’ll feed the cat to the dog. The hungry dog will want to eat you. That’s what happens with conspicuous consumption.”

“What should I do?”

“Send the dog to Weight Watchers or Overeaters Anonymous. Even you must realize marrying an enchanted mouse is like winning the lottery.”

“Maybe. What kind of shoes do you have?”

“Try on the shiny purple boots. I need to post on Facebook to borrow something for our wedding.” Said the mouse.

The boy explored the world wearing magic purple boots. He enjoyed being a bachelor and was careful to avoid deserted cottages and talking animals. I am sure he lived happily ever after.

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Laura Beasley has published stories in Enchanted Conversation, a Fairy Tale Magazine, Rose Red Review and eFantasy. She lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with her husband. She has a whippet, Audrey and a grey horse named Amos.


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