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Saturday, 15 July 2017

SHORT STORY #9: I Have The Dress (Chapter Four)

#9: I Have The Dress
Chapter Four: Step One: Buy Pet Food
Rui Lee marched towards the pet shop across the road. She just briefly managed to catch a conversation between her classmates. The school bell was still ringing behind her.

“Red Leaves seems to be in an awful hurry.” Aliya observed.

Muthusamy guffawed, as if Aliya had just told a joke, though she hadn’t meant it that way.

Princess Red Leaves, Aliya. Don’t you know to respect royalty?”

Rui Lee pushed open the glass door. Dainty little wind chimes clink-clanged overhead.

Once in the shop, puppies, kittens, hamsters and lots of other animal eyes focused on her. Although they were only animals, Rui Lee tensed, feeling like a fashion model in the spotlight.

Who knew. Even without the dress, she was still the centre of attention.

Rui Lee looked around, having not been in a pet shop before. Seeing Rui Lee’s confused and hesitant expression, the friendly shopkeeper asked her what pet she would like.

“Um, no. I would like to get some pet food. Do you have any?”

“Yes, of course. What pet food would you like?”

“What pet food?”

“Yes.” The shopkeeper tried a different approach. “Which pet would you like this food for?”

“Oh, um, I don’t have one.” Rui Lee scratched her head nervously. “Um, anything will do.” Is there a difference? Don’t most domestic pets eat the same food? thought Rui Lee. Her ignorance regarding pets and their food was making a fool out of her.


“Y…yes. A small packet, please.”

The plump shopkeeper came out from behind the counter and waddled deeper into the store. Rui Lee waited, fidgeting with her fingers. The shopkeeper soon came out, carrying dog, cat and hamster food. The least she could do for this strange girl was to bring out food for the three most popular pets, and let her pick the one she wanted.

Rui Lee squinted at the three packets. She picked one that claimed to have a “strong whiff”, paid for it, and went out of the shop.

Now, Rui Lee did not like littering. But she knew this had to be done. She opened the packet, and started dropping the tiny crackers down the street on the way home, trying her best to be inconspicuous. If only she could attract some of those felines that roamed the streets……

Soon, a little puppy came sniffing at a cracker Rui Lee had dropped. Then it stood on its hind paws and looked up at Rui Lee, anticipating another piece.

Rui Lee looked again carefully at the packet. Oops. It was dog food. She dug her hand into the packet. Suddenly, a sparrow flew towards her. She waved her hand and tried to shoo away the distracting bird, to no avail.

She gave up and focused on the little puppy. Her plan was to bring home an animal and nurture it, and here was one. All of a sudden, Rui Lee got disappointed. A puppy on the road? It couldn’t be a stray dog, could it?

She checked the puppy’s neck. No collar. No name tag, address or phone number.

Okay, this shall be it, thought Rui Lee. She took a few tentative steps ahead, expecting the canine to follow her. But it just stood there looking at her, tongue lolling out, panting.

“Oh, come on!” Rui Lee lost her patience, reverting to her old self again. After all, she wasn’t all that good with little animals. She walked around the dog and started nudging it with the tip of her right school shoe. The puppy didn’t budge. Rui Lee resisted the urge to kick it and send it flying. She pushed it harder with her shoe.

Finally, the dog whined a little and started trotting in the direction of home. Every now and then, Rui Lee had to push the dog, who was taking its own sweet time. She growled and grunted and mumbled and frowned and complained. As she nudged the dog for the millionth time with her shoe, she thought of snow white among the flowers and animals.

 I am a princess now. Right?

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