The Difference a Day Makes

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Authors: Carole Matthews
Tags: Fiction, General
    ‘They said he was a bit of a handful, admittedly. He’s a Gordon Setter,’ my husband tells me. ‘Fine breed. He’s a pedigree.’
    Pedigree? The thing looks half-dog, half-stand-up comedian.
    ‘Could just do with a bit of training.’
    Could just do with a sedative.
    ‘He’s still in his puppyish stage. He’ll calm down once he settles in.’ The dog’s currently trying to mount Will. ‘Won’t you, boy?’
    ‘He’s completely destroyed all of the underwear.’
    ‘No!’ Will laughs in exactly the same way I did.
    My husband realises that I’m serious. ‘It’s probably a chewing phase. He’ll grow out of it.’
    ‘I’ll have to drive into Scarsby later to get us some more.’ I tut. ‘That damn vet didn’t fix you up with him, did he?’
    ‘No,’ Will assures me. ‘In fact, Guy warned me that he might be a bit boisterous.’
    Jessica comes into the kitchen bearing an armful of Bratz dolls - all of them with their heads chewed off. ‘Look what happened to my dollies!’
    Hamish hangs his head in shame and tries to slink off. This dog wouldn’t make a poker player.
    ‘Bloody dog,’ I mutter. Then to my daughter, ‘You’ll have to keep your bedroom door closed, sweetie. Until Hamish grows out of his “chewing phase”.’
    ‘They were my favourites,’ she whines.
    I hate Bratz dolls, I don’t know why I let my child play with them. They wear too much make-up and dress like hookers. If you want my opinion, they actually look better headless. ‘Never mind,’ I say, casting a steely glance at Will. ‘Daddy will buy you some more.’
    Tom comes down. He’s wearing his school blazer and a bemused expression. ‘Look,’ he says, holding his arms out. ‘It’s got holes in it.’
    Lots of them. Dog-shaped ones. But if that isn’t enough evidence, the silver trails of slime that cover the new uniform condemn Hamish as the guilty party. The dog lowers himself to the floor and tries to look invisible. Quite hard for a great hairy mutt that must weigh at least twelve stones.
    ‘Never mind,’ I say even more sweetly than the last time. ‘Daddy will buy you another one.’
    ‘But what will I wear today? Mrs Barnsley will go bonkers.’
    ‘Daddy will come to school with us,’ I say crisply in Will’s direction, ‘and explain to Mrs Barnsley exactly what happened.’
    Maya helps them to pour out their cereal, while I pull Will to one side. ‘That’s it,’ I whisper fiercely. ‘This isn’t a home filled with animals and love. It’s filled with an eating machine, a serial killer and a variety of chewed things.You’re not Doctor flaming Doolittle. No more animals. None. I’m serious.’
    ‘That’s fine,’Will says, chastened.‘I hear you. No more animals.’
    ‘Promise me on your children’s lives?’
    ‘Yes,’ he says. ‘After the goats arrive today, that’s absolutely it.’

Chapter Sixteen
    W hile the children finish their breakfast, Will and I head outside to tend to our steadily growing flock. With a distinct lack of enthusiasm, I take the chicken duty, while my husband goes to look after the elderly sheep who’ve been christened Daphne, Doris and Delila.
    I’m trying to ignore the fact that the toes of my favourite Kurt Geiger boots have obviously been given a tentative chew by our new dog. Though I’ve quickly realised that, even given their less than pristine state, they’re not the ideal footwear for animal husbandry. It looks as if we’re staying here for the duration, so I ought to invest in some decent wellies for us all.
    I jump and give a scream as I lift the lid off the feedbin and a mouse scuttles out. Grief. My heart’s pounding in my chest like a hammer. Will might think that this place is going to be the panacea for his dodgy heart, but I think it’s going to give me a dicky ticker. At least I’m not having to scoop out the bloodied remains of one of Milly Molly Mandy’s ‘playmates’. Getting back

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