Our dog is stuck in a time loop, living the same day on repeat. Our children first noticed it when they went to give her a bath and realized she wasn’t dirty after weeks without a cleaning. The evidence mounted from there. She ate at the same time, slept until the exact same minute, went outside only three times a day. No more, no less.
A cosmic trick has been played on our dog by the universe, and even the vet has no idea why.
“She has always been a good dog,” they told us over the phone, “so this is especially strange.” In cases like this, according to the doctor, the universe is usually forcing someone to improve themselves, but there is no need for our dog to improve. “Just give her treats when you can,” the vet said, “and don’t get in the way of her routine too much, otherwise you might get swept up in the loop.”
My husband immediately decided to enter the loop with our dog, which he’s still trying to do. He has shadowed her for three days and counting. He sleeps next to her in the living room on the worn gray couch that has absorbed her smell. Eats his breakfast at her level. Rolls in the grass and lays in the sun for half the day.
Now he sometimes repeats his last few minutes, most recently explaining to me how he wants to paint the wall behind the entertainment center a darker color twice in a row. Most recently explaining to me how he wants to paint the wall behind the entertainment center a darker color twice in a row. But that is about as far as he’s gotten.
The world moves and ages around our dog. The children are getting older and so are we, but the dog is still stuck in her loop—not that she minds. Time now dilates when we approach her, so I keep my distance. Our daughter Mirren, who was always closest to the dog in every way, is now younger than our son and I don’t quite remember them being born that way. I am concerned they won’t have families of their own to care for our dog when we finally go. That she will continue in her loop far beyond us and them and this house.
We have sent the children to my parents’ home to ease the time dilation. I watch our dog at the end of her daily loop, dozing on her gray couch with my husband repeating his last four minutes of sleep beside her. He looks younger. The mantle over the fireplace holds one framed memory after another. I can’t help but crawl on all fours across the rug and press my face into our dog’s pristine, slowing fur.
Nick Perilli is a writer and library person living in Philadelphia with loved ones and a Netflix DVD plan. His debut novel, ‘Cul-de-sac,’ is forthcoming from Montag Press in late 2021. His chapbook Child Lucia and Other Library Fabula will be released by Ethel Zine Press around then too. Short work of his can be found in Breadcrumbs, Toho Journal, and elsewhere. He tweets @nicoloperilli and spared no expense on his cheap website nickperilli.com.