She’s Always Barking

Coco was barking again. It woke Lindsay, who groaned and threw her pillow at the dog. This didn’t dissuade Coco, her little pug, at all. If anything, it seemed to make her bark louder.

She got out of bed, and lumbered toward the dog. But it was too late, Conner was already awake. The newborn’s scream blended with the dog’s barking.

Lindsay started into the nursery, trying in vain to remember what a quiet morning felt like. Coco followed after her, barking all the while.

Conner was wailing away in his crib. He’d kicked off his blanket, his face red with the effort of his cries.

“Shush, shush,” Lindsay said, scooping him up. “Let’s get you and Coco breakfast, little man.”

Conner’s scream’s subsided to a shallow whimpering once he was in her arms. Coco was still yipping her damn head off as she followed them down the stairs.

The kitchen felt as cold as death that morning. Lindsay gave Coco a little nudge with her foot. “Enough,” she said, “you want fed, I get it.” The dog behaved as though nothing had happened, and continued to make a racket.

Lindsay set Conner in his high chair, then grabbed Coco by her collar. “Alright, outside then,” she said, pulling her to the back door and giving her a gentle shove outside. Then, she headed to the cupboard where she kept the baby cereal.

Instead of the cereal, she found coffee cups.

“What the hell?” Lindsay muttered. This was where the cereal had always been. She took a deep breath. Maybe James had moved things around. But why would he decide to do that while she was asleep?

She opened each cupboard, one after the other. There was no cereal, formula or baby food at all. Nothing was where it should have been. Coco was still barking at the door, and Conner was crying again.

It was too early for this. Lindsay took a few deep breaths, then scooped Conner back up. “We’ll just get dressed, and go to the store if there’s no cereal,” she said, trying desperately to keep her temper. The last thing she wanted to do was wrestle a cranky baby into an outfit to go to the store.

As she walked past the window, though, she realized that it would do her no good anyway. Her car was missing from the driveway.

“What in the hell is going on here!” Lindsay cried.

When Alice got home, she was surprised to see Coco outside, barking her head off at the kitchen door. “How’d you get out again?” she asked, moving her grocery bags into her off hand so that she could open the door. “Damn dog.”

She managed to maneuver her way into the kitchen, the dog yapping at her feet the whole time. But once she was inside, she nearly dropped her bags. Every cupboard door was open, and things were pushed roughly aside, as though someone had been angrily looking for something.

Coco ran past her, only to start yipping at the stairs. Alice took a few deep breaths, setting her bags on the table. She was so sick of that dog, but it had belonged to Rodger’s first wife. She was the last member of the family he’d lost when Lindsay and Conner had been in a car accident. But she was always barking!

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