This is fiction, the story comes from my imagination and bears no relation to the real lives of the kind people and very lovely Zara who allowed me to use their photo as a catalyst for this story.
It’s the dog I feel sorry for. Sometimes, when i look at her little face screwed up with concentration, her head turning towards each of them, it seems such a shame.
Looking back, of course it was a stupid idea, a dog for their 14th birthday. I thought it would give them a sense of responsibility, get them out of bed at the week ends, encourage them to go for walks, all those good sensible things you want your teenagers to do.
I even thought it might make them less competitive, give them a project they could share, perhaps even let them get closer to each other again .
I can remember what they were like as littlies, heads close together, bent over some project, completely immersed in their own world, sometimes, I even felt a little jealous.
I used to try to make a joke of it, say that they didn’t need a mum, didn’t need me cos they had each other , but it was one of those shaky jokes, a little to near the truth to be funny. I certainly never made it at the Twins club, way too many mums there who might not get the joke at all or worse still might the truth behind it all too well.
So, I get them the dog, 12 weeks old, just a little bundle of fluff, terrified of her own shadow, spends the first two days hiding behind the sofa and at first it seems to be working , they’re both sitting beside the sofa, trying to coax her out. I pretended to be watching the pup, but really I was watching them, thinking that I’d managed to do a good parent thing, that perhaps now they could start enjoying each other again.
Of course it went wrong, within 48 hrs they were at each others’ throats, both insisting that their name was the best and the pattern was set, they couldn’t decide, so I made the decision – Zara – I said, we’ll call her Zara – and we did.
Poor Zara, she’s just another pawn in their competition,
“She loves me best”
“No she loves me more”
“She comes when I call her”
“She wants to sleep on my bed”
Some days the dog is smothered in love, walked 5 or 6 times, brushed, cuddled, fed endless treats. Other days, when they have other ways to score points off each other, she is ignored.
Zara is stoic, has learnt over the years to come to me when she is hungry, bored, a little lonely.
Evenings when world war 3 is being unleashed upstairs, we sit quietly on the sofa , her head on my lap. We watch TV together, we have both developed a taste for costume drama and low-fat crisps.
Just occasionally, i lean forward and whisper into her ear
“who loves you best ?” and she licks my hand, you could say it’s for the salty after-taste of the crisps, but i know better.