Sneak Preview: Kaidlyn’s CoStar
With the Muttopia series, I play with two narrators: Kaidlyn Durant and her guest star, who will change for every book. In Scratch Lines, we met Rainer. Here’s the new voice for The Dog House
Fresh off the boat.
The sailor in me always enjoyed that phrase. Ever since the Deutsche Marine, I loved the water. I may have tired of the crowded compartments, the stale food, the endless drudgery, but I never tired of the ocean. I retained from her a feeling of love. Terror, marvel, and duty, yes…but mostly love.
Stepping onto dry, albeit cold, land, I think: what a pity the world has lost its love of ships. Airplanes and trains are the way to travel now. Never could stand the things. The pressure, I think. Take off, set down, and that rapid change of pressure. Made me want to lie down on the floor in anticipation of a crushing free fall.
I’m supposed to stay in my cabin on these long sea voyages. Of all my queen’s commandments, this is the only one I disobey. Although if she asked, I wouldn’t lie about it, and that is how I justify my insubordination. I wonder how she might punish me and decide the risk is worth it. I mingle with the crew so much that they pat me on the back as I leave, shake my hand, and wish me good journey.
At port, a man with a dogsled offers me a ride. It is hard not to laugh. The dogs, they love me. We want to run together, but the human would not appreciate that at all.
My duffel bag is empty except for two shirts and a book on American slang. The jacket is for show; I am not cold. I give everything to a traveler who is ill-prepared for the weather. I tell him to never visit Omsk. He doesn’t know what I’m talking about and offers me his last Canadian dollars. I decline. He warns me to beware of the forest.
Wolves run there, he says.
I walk to the end of the port town, thankful for the cloak of night and the incoming storm. I remove my clothes. My threads, as the slang would say. I discard my shoes, and the first touch of hard ice underfoot promises a long-awaited run. I stretch outward, push my chest toward the sky, curl back, and lay flat on the ground. Tremors dance through me. When I rise, the beast consumes me. I become wolf.
The sound of sled dogs barking catches my ears.
I howl back at them, and then there is only silence and the great black stormy sprawl of country before me.
And I run.