Reluctantly, I grabbed a towel from the rack (in retrospect, I have no idea why I did this. Perhaps I was subconsciously afraid to further scar Abbey's delicate psychology with my nudity) and opened the door. Again, I don't know how I thought this would help--my track history of calming Abbey down is pathetic, if not downright shameful. But there we were: me dripping suds and Abbey practically foaming at the mouth, in a brief showdown before she bolted between my legs to the tub. With her tail between her trembling little legs, she growled and snarled at the viscous jets of water still hitting the porcelain bath. For a moment, I was touched--maybe the mutt thought she was protecting me. But I still had a shower to finish, and this scruffy ball of nerves was making it damn near impossible. So I left the door open and climbed back in the shower, thinking she would be calm if she could supervise. Again, I was mistaken. Abbey tore down half the shower curtain in the frantic attempt to join me in the shower. Panic was in her eyes and she dove paws first into the basin of her fear. This would not do. After much pleading and cooing, I lured her out of the bathroom and halfway down the stairs with the tonal promise of lovely safe things before bolting back up and slamming the door before she could figure out how to turn her body around on the narrow stairs. By then, I was freezing, my hair was slimy with conditioner residue, and I had dog hair stuck to my wet legs and feet. Abbey was back at the door full force, so I had no choice but to rinse off in record time to relieve her stress and mine. Since then, she has not been further than ten inches from my ankles and whines every time I walk into the bathroom to grab the hairdryer or hang up my towel.
The cat, Mercy, meanwhile, has been curled up on the couch, guarding my now cold cup of tea and new book of poetry until my return, at which point she will doing one of several indeterminable things. First, she will show slight annoyance at my intrusion of her resting place, stretch out every link of her long back, and relocate herself on another cushion nearby. From that distance I can observe her graceful contortions while I write, and perhaps catch her gaze as she grooms herself and share a moment of self-satisfied indifference. Or, she may choose to accept my company, reach out a tiny paw and bat the ball of yarn I am knitting onto the floor, where we will watch it slowly unravel until she pounces on it with playful precision. I might crumple a piece of paper and play a lazy, low matainence game of fetch with her for several minutes, until she decides she has had enough and leaves the paper behind in favor of the window sill where she watches birds and invisible things in raptured silhouette. Watching her inspires me to write poetry, or to have an affair with a manic-depressive poet. But for now, she is my only poet-lover. Abbey, on the other hand, is like an infomercial with the volume turned way up, yelling at me about things I don't need. Right now, she needs to be walked.