Doggy always keeps me safe when mummy and daddy fight. They don’t know about doggy. Daddy says pets are too expensive, and mummy says she is a lergic, but I think maybe she doesn’t like a doggy in the way she sometimes doesn’t like daddy. Doggy curls up close to me and sometimes I get a little cold when Doggy is hungry but I have blankets so I’m OK even if it makes Doggy all puppy-sad when I’m cold.
Doggy tells me things, sometimes when I’m sleeping. Doggy paces our bedroom at night, even all over the ceiling, but mummy and daddy never yell about noise. Doggy says they’re like turtles and turned each other into a shell for them, but I’m not sure I get that? I don’t get a lot of what Doggy say, but sometimes I think Doggy doesn’t really get people either.
Sometimes Doggy says things that make me cry, because Doggy knows truths hat are all adult and hurt. They are always sad after, but not for long because Doggy doesn’t understand being sad. Doggy is Doggy, and I’m not me like that so I think it makes Doggy sad in a mad way. But not a mad way that goes bad like mummy and daddy.
Most days are good ways with Doggy around. Mummy and Daddy don’t shout at me, and no one at school bugs me because Doggy. But sometimes Doggy has to go away, and says they need to hide. And when they do, I have to think about Doggy really hard so Doggy can come back.
Doggy has been going away a lot this week, and it makes me scared. I think their might be a pound for Doggies, even if it’s not ours at all, because Doggy only looks like a Doggy, and then only sometimes.
I’m going home from school where no one bugs me anymore and thinking about Doggy when the woman says hello. She’s not mummy at all, and her eyes remind me of Doggy only they don’t at all because she keeps a bad Doggy inside them. I don’t know how to even do that – Doggy would be safer inside me, but likely really mad as well!
“My name is Charlie,” she says. “I imagine you know why I’m hear to talk to you?”
“Doggy is busy hiding,” I say sharp as mummy. I didn’t even want to mention Doggy, but she feels safe like a babysitter who gets rid of monsters under beds, even if Doggy isn’t that kind of monster at all.
“We know. But, ah, Doggy isn’t a real dog.”
“I know that. Doggy is better,” I say.
“Perhaps sometimes.” She crouches down, and I yelp as a finger brushes my left arm. “But you bruise easier than you used to, and you’re tired often. Doggy needs energy from you to stay in the world.”
“Doggy doesn’t meant to hurt me.” I cross my arms and glare like mummy does at daddy.
“And yet you’re still hurt.” She smiles, and the smile is soft and sad and like nothing mummy ever smiles at me. “Doggy is scared, and we do things we know we shouldn't when we’re afraid. Sometimes we fight, and sometimes we hide. A Doggy can make mistakes just like people do.”
“I’m not!” I’m moving, and Charlie is too because she’s quick like Doggy is. “I’m not a mistake even if mummy and daddy say so!”
“Oh.” And I stop, not just because Charlie is in front of me but because she reminds me of Doggy for a moment, only Doggy doesn’t understand mistakes and what it means but Charlie does. “No. No, you are not,” she says softly, and a small part of me is almost scared for mummy and daddy. Charlie lets out a breath. “But Doggy –.”
“Doggy is special.”
“Yes, but Doggy doesn’t make you special. You do that,” she says, and it would be all funny coming from a teacher but from Charlie it sounds just like a fact. “And you’re very brave to be friends with Doggy and to help them – I was never that brave when I was young age.”
“But you have a Doggy in you!”
And Charlie laughs. “What is inside me isn’t the same, and scared me for many years. I had help to get free of my fears; you didn’t need anyone to help you. And that’s very brave, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need people.”
“It’s better at school when everyone leaves me alone.”
“I imagine so. But it’s not better for you if everyone does that. Some people, yes, but not all the people.” And Charlie moves beside me. “Doggy has been hiding from a friend of mine who – deals with entities like Doggy.”
“Like the pound?”
“Ah. Yes, like a pound, only he’s not a bad one. He can help Doggy stay and not hurt you.”
“He’s waiting by the house, so you can ask him about the pound yourself,” she says.
I make it around the corner and the man standing by the house is ordinary, except he’s not at all. He nods to Charlie and walks over, and he is – safe. Nice, in the way Doggy tries to be nice. I don’t remember all the words he says, but his voice is powerful and gentle and Doggy is scared but the man offers to help.
Doggy speaks in a tone too close to daddy about magicians, and Charlie’s friend just smiles. “Not all magicians see Outsiders the same way.” And I think he does something like Spock does on the TV because Doggy relaxes and they both vanish and no one notices that at all.
“People are good at not seeing what they don’t want to see,” Charlie says as I stare about. “Do you want me to talk to your parents?”
And I want that almost as much as I want Doggy to stay, but I think it over as hard as I can. “Would you hurt them?”
“I don’t know,” Charlie says. “That would be up to them.”
“Then, no? Doggy can help me and we’ll be okay. But Doggy can find you, if I change my mind, please?” I ask.
Charlie laughs softly. “Of course,” she says, and I head inside to my room and I wait for Doggy to come back. It doesn’t take long at all, and I think Doggy is a bit smaller, and they jump into my lap and I listen to mummy and daddy fight come home and fight, but Doggy is warm and protective and I know everything is going to be all right now. Because Doggy told me it’s going to be all okay once I’m the Prime Minister.