It was a bright Saturday morning when Sean saw him for the first time.
His curls was as golden as a beam of sunlight, looking as though it were combed custard. His sparkling eyes were as brown the mud from a pig’s daydream. His sharp teeth were so radiant they were almost blinding. Charisma emanated from his spine like a fine mist. To say this creature was good-looking would be like calling Rod Stewart unsettling. The dog’s name was William, and he was here to stay.
‘What do you think?’ His mother enthusiastically asked her son as she walked William around the living room. ‘Isn’t he the best?’
Sean shrugged his shoulders. ‘Is it going to live in the house or what?’
His father shot him a dirty look. ‘It’s a he. William is part of our family now, and you must respect that, young man.’
His mother cleared her throat. ‘I think we should we go down to the park to celebrate the newest addition to our family.’
‘I agree!’ nodded Sean’s father, with a merry gleam in his eye.
The parents dragged their son down to the local park, and threw Frisbees at him and William. William caught his Frisbees in the mouth and bowed his head humbly when Sean’s parents praised him. Sean’s Frisbees bounced off the side of his head. His parents scowled, and William smugly winked at Sean every time he missed a Frisbee.
The fifteen-minute car ride home was defined by stony silence. Naturally, William was allowed to dominate the back seats.
‘Stop elbow-fighting!’ chided Sean’s father. ‘Sean, at least try to set a good example for your brother. At least try.’
After the park excursion, Sean needed to listen to a lot of Radiohead to come to terms with his parent’s new attitude. He wondered how Thom Yorke would handle this situation.
Dinner was mincemeat and peas. William was there, dressed in one of Sean’s old school uniforms and sunglasses. Sean wondered how the legionnaire’s cap managed to stay on the mutt’s head. The dog was squatting on a high-chair and gnawing at an old bone.
‘Why don’t you eat your peas?’ beamed Sean’s mother.
‘I’m not in the mood,’ muttered Sean.
Sean’s father pointed at William’s approach to the bone. ‘William doesn’t have any trouble having an appetite. Maybe you should try and be more like William.’
Sean’s mother nodded. ‘He’s clever as well. After we dropped you off we went to church. William knew exactly when to sit, stand and shake hands. Now why can’t you be more like that?’
Sean spooned some mince into his mouth. It didn’t taste great.
‘It sounds like you should get a new son!’ Sean jabbed the air with a fork for emphasis.
His parents laughed as one being. ‘We did!’
Sean realised that this was the first time he had ever seen his parents happy.
After the hilarity died out his mother continued the conversation. ‘Sean, we can’t let you stay in William’s room anymore.’ She handed him a cardboard box. ‘You have until nine to pack your crap. We’ll let you sleep on the couch tonight, but you’ll need to find a new place in the morning.’
William barked happily, muddying the tablecloth with his paw prints. Sean’s eyes narrowed.
‘I don’t see why we even waste food on you!’ exclaimed his mother, snatching Sean’s plate away from him and giving it to the dog.
‘Yeah, give it to someone who appreciates it!’ said his father, his face turning red. He held the plate up to the dog’s face. William grinned deliriously as his thick tongue wiped that piece of crockery clean.
‘Get out of my face, punk.’ hissed the mother. ‘Kindly take your junk out of our real son’s room.’
Wordlessly, Sean screeched his chair back and left the kitchen.
It was disturbing how easy it was to fit fourteen years’ worth of stuff within one box. His treasured Godzilla poster was easy to fold, all his music could fit on one iPod and all his books were replaceable. His skateboard took up the most space.
Sean lugged his box out to the living room, next to the couch. He saw his mother holding a sheet.
‘Thanks?’ he said, reaching out to grab it.
Quick as a ninja, she spread the sheet out on the couch. ‘This way you won’t get my couch dirty.’
Sean heard barking from his room, and what sounded like a colossal jug of water being emptied. The sound stopped and started at uneven intervals. From the direction of his parent’s bedrooms he could hear enthusiastic giggles and loud moans. It was going to be a long night.