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Dog Number 13

Chapter 3

By Morgan LongfordPublished 2 months ago 8 min read
Top Story - May 2024

May 15, 2023

Strange things are happening. Good-strange, bad-strange, and strange-strange.

For starters, me and all my litter mates are able to stand. Some of us can even wiggle around in a clumsy manner. I say wiggle because it isn’t quite walking but it isn’t quite crawling. We just sort of stand and wiggle and fall and take a few steps and then crawl and then get up again. It is in this manner we are able to move around to some degree and explore our surroundings. Naturally we cannot go far. Which is ok, I suppose, because I am very small and I need my mother for food and my siblings to keep me warm and I feel very loved and comforted by them in some way, so I don’t know why I would need to go very far. Having four legs, I must admit, is very strange. It is not a surprise to me that it is challenging to coordinate them to move in the order they need to move. But I can get around a little bit, my eyes can stay open for much longer periods of time now, and it is easier to understand what is happening. So this is new.

What I also know is that I was correct. There are thirteen of us. I cannot count. But there are a few humans that come by to check on us throughout the day and throughout the night. And I cannot count anymore, but I hear the humans count. And I heard them say, “Wow, thirteen! That is a very large litter!” I feel very excited about this, because as I mentioned, thirteen is a very lucky number. I am also excited about this because I guessed correctly, and that feels important. I know they are humans, because I know that I was a human, and that I looked like them. Although, from this perspective, they look exceptionally large. I don’t think I ever thought much about how humans must look to animals, and now I wish I had. These humans look like giants, but I guess they are just average human size, which is 5’7” globally, if I remember correctly, and I’m sure I do, because I remember being surprised that the average height for men and women was the same. I do remember the statistic was about all humans, so maybe it is different in just the United States, which is where I lived before this.

There are thirteen of us and they call me Thirteen. Those are our names- for now at least. One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen. I was overjoyed when I found out that I was Thirteen. I hear the humans discuss different names for us. They list sit and look at us and say, “What about famous artists?” “What about famous musicians?” “What about favorite characters?” I wish I could tell them that my favorite artist is- was- Basquiat, because I looked one way on the outside, but his art looked like what I often felt like on the inside. I never hung a print on my wall, because I didn’t think it would match my furniture or my personality, and I worried too much about what other people thought about me- I know this now- so I didn’t do many of the things I wanted to. I wanted to be loud and bright and expressive, but my parents never encouraged me to be myself, and so I learned to be quiet and structured and to do what was expected of me even if I wasn’t happy. I did this for so long that I made it my personality. Basquiat’s art is like that. The center of the painting is different than the outside edges of the painting. If I could do things differently, I would have hung the art in my apartment. I would have done a lot of things differently, but I would have hung the art, too. I never had much company, so I don’t know why I worried about impressing imaginary people.

If I could tell the humans other things, I would tell them that my favorite musician was Tom Petty. I feel fairly confident that if they played music for us, and they played Tom Petty, that I would still very much enjoy it and I would show them by wagging my new tail. Which is strange, but in a good way. My three favorite Tom Petty songs, if you were wondering, were American Girl, Yer So Bad, and Learning to Fly. I wish the humans would play them for me. If I could tell the humans other things, I would tell them that my favorite cartoon character was Charlie Brown. My favorite food was…. Beef stroganoff… I think… that memory feels unsure. That is also something strange. My memories of being a human seem to be less clear. Fuzzy. At first, in this body, I could remember everything, and now my memories are like when you aren’t sure if it was a vivid dream or something real. These are some of the things I can remember, and it seems prudent to discuss them while I still can. I have a feeling they will go away.

I grew up in Ohio. I am- was- an only child. My parents were hard workers- my father was a banker and my mother was a secretary, and they provided a nice house in the suburbs for me to grow up in, put hearty meals on the table that we actually ate in front of the television watching the nightly news, but they were unhappy. It didn’t always know they were unhappy, until I started going to the houses of my friends and saw that they had happy families that ate at an actual table, sharing stories of their day, throwing their heads back in laughter. I watched other families joke with each other, tease each other lovingly, and dance around the living room with cocktails in their hands.

I remember the cocktails for several reasons. My family didn’t drink, with the exception of a single glass of wine at holidays and special occasions and communion, so I thought it was interesting to see other families have a cocktail for fun. I also remember them because of the different colors- the pinks and blues and mint leaves and lemons. I remember wanting to try such beautiful drinks, and to dance around like nothing mattered. I remember them because they would drink and dance in rooms that had carpet and if they spilled anything everyone would laugh and get a towel and clean it up and it wasn’t a big deal, and I never saw anything so carefree in my home, and that is also how I knew my parents weren’t happy and that I could never allow myself to be carefree. If I were to spill something- anything- I would be yelled at. So that is how I learned to be very careful, to make myself very small, and to take my time and to be meticulous with details in everything I ever did. This way, I could learn how to be unhappy too. At least I wasn’t getting yelled at.

One time I remember I was in my parent’s room and I put on my mom’s Sunday hat, and my dad’s Varsity jacket from when he was a teenager and even though it didn’t fit him anymore, he would sit and stare at it sometimes, and my mom’s blue dress with the ruffles and rhinestones she wore to a high school dance once, the one she went to with my dad, and I put all these things together in an outfit because I knew these were their favorite clothes, and I wanted to put on a performance for them so that I could see them smile. I worked so hard on my song and dance number, and I was certain that it would make them happy, but instead, they told me to “Take off that ridiculous outfit and don’t ruin anything,” and I never got to sing them the song I wrote. I never tried to make them laugh again, and I never tried to put together a “happy” outfit ever again either. This is the manner in which I spent my childhood. I even stopped going to other houses because their happiness just made my lack of it more pronounced. I did not have a happy childhood, even though I so desperately wanted one, but it seemed more important to be a “good” son than to be who I really was.

We never left Ohio. We never left our house or our neighborhood. We never went on vacations to exciting places like the kids from my school. We never had picnics on the living room floor. I don’t recall a single time we had fun as a family, as a matter of fact. Maybe that is why my entire life felt so uneventful, like groundhog day, the same thing over and over for fifty-two years. That is how old I was when I died. I know now that is what happened, I went to sleep one night in March at the end of another same day, and I didn’t wake up. I don’t know how I died, but it didn’t hurt, and I didn’t know I had, and to be honest, I am not sad about it. Because I was never allowed to be happy, I never learned how to be happy, and after awhile, I didn’t see much point in living anyway if every single day was going to be spent doing the exact same thing over and over. I never found love. I never had a single adventure. I just played it safe, just like my parents. I went to my local university, got a practical degree, drove a fuel-efficient vehicle that I bought new off the lot, and kept it for twenty years. I went to my job as an insurance adjuster, kept a routine and did my best to not go crazy, if we are being honest. I found adventure in books, in research. I quelled my curiosity about the world by reading the newspaper, figuring even if I couldn’t explore the world, I could at least read about it. When you live one way for so long, you forget that you don’t have to.

To be honest, I do not know why I didn’t do more. I feel angry and sad about that now. I should have seen that my parents were unhappy and did the exact opposite of that. But I didn’t. At least I never got hurt. At least there were no surprises. At least I knew what every day would hold, so that I didn’t need to change any of my plans. There is comfort in melancholy, I suppose. I don’t even know how I started talking about this… Oh yes, the memories I have. It is strange that I can remember the cocktails but not what my favorite meal was. I find it also strange that most of my memories boil down to this. My entire life wrapped up in a few thoughts. I guess those are called “core memories,” and are the things that shape you. At least I can still remember my favorite songs. I never let myself have much hope in my last life, but I hope that in this life, that I have adventure. I hope that in this life, I get to be myself, even if I am a dog. I think it is possible that this life will be better than the last one, and if I forgot all the memories that made me sad, I don’t think I would be disappointed. And I am Thirteen, a good, lucky number, so I hope (cautiously) that it is a good start.


About the Creator

Morgan Longford

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Comments (8)

  • Mary C. Glover17 days ago

    Thanks for sharing this.

  • ROCK about a month ago

    Incredible writing; newly subscribed! Congratulations on your Top Story!

  • Anna about a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • Esala Gunathilake2 months ago

    I would say this is top. Congratulations.

  • Cheryl E Preston2 months ago

    This is a cute story. I love the dogs glasses

  • Natasha Collazo2 months ago

    ❤️ 👏

  • Judey Kalchik 2 months ago

    This is such an interesting way to tell the story of a life. I've never come at a memoir in this way, and this is the first I've read. Well done!

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Amazing story! Well written. 13! ♥️

Morgan LongfordWritten by Morgan Longford

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