©D. Paul Angel, 2009
©D. Paul Angel, 2009
Snug under the covers against the Fall chill in the house, she gently scritched Omega; only just still awake. She snuggled up against the Rottweiler's warm fur, and felt comfort in the vague "wet dog" smell that always seemed to linger this time of year. She felt his still powerful body taut as he stretched, before releasing the tension with a deep, audible sigh.
Omega had been hers ever since she had saved him from her husband, Will. Will. In her thirty-two years she had only ever known one Will, and most days she regretted that she had ever met him, back when they were both young and ambitious. Back when God was as real to her as her parents, siblings, and friends. Will was the son of their church's preacher and they had grown up together; close enough to distantly flirt, but far enough that friendship couldn't intrude on their desires.
Will wanted to be a preacher, too. The Church was going to be his, and with his father's health ailing, that time was going to be soon. They married young, knowing that Will would soon be leading the flock. Will's father's liver began failing even faster. The alcoholism he had overcome so many years before had already done it's damage and Will's father refused any kind of treatment. "It's a Penance for my Sins," he'd tell the enraptured congregation, "Succumbing to Treatment would be to like Questioning God's Judgment." Will's father always spoke in Capitals.
Unfortunately for Will, the Church would not be passed down. It wasn't the church's fire that was so devastating, nor his Father's death within it. It was that another body had been found next to his father, later identified as the Boy's Youth Leader, they were surrounded by whiskey bottles; their clothes piled in a heap in the corner.
In one fell swoop Will lost his Father, his friend, and his calling. Having never touched alcohol in his life, not even a drop of beer, Will bought himself a bottle of cheap whiskey to see what his father saw. He drank more of it than he should have, but did not get sick. Only numb.
Eve found him the next morning passed out on the kitchen floor, scared for herself and her husband, and without the resources to do anything other than endure. Will's binge didn't reveal any answers to him, but it did give him the numbness that he so desperately craved. It wasn't long before he crawled into the bottle, never to emerge alive.
Eve thought about those years and squeezed Omega. He grunted as he always had, and she felt safe remembering again. The violence. The terror. The humiliation, pain, and anguish that had filled her life that first year after Will's father had died. Then Omega's litter had been born, and Eve found her savior.
Omega was the runt. He couldn't get to his Mom for milk, and the others puppies bullied him as was their way. "As my husband bullied me," she thought, "Even though it wasn't always his way..." She tried again to remember the good times they had had, the reasons why she had married him in the first place, and when she had been excited to think about bearing his children. But a decade of suffering had truly scrubbed those feelings from her, even now, safe and alone at last, she could not recall even a flicker of happiness they might have shared.
Will had wanted to quickly do to Omega what he was slowly doing to her. She saw herself in the sad, trodden upon puppy, and though she didn't know how to save herself, she knew how to save him. Will's response had been derision and cruelly sardonic words. Finally he relented, but not until he had named the runt Omega. A reminder to Eve that he was Alpha.
She took care of Omega and nurtured him. Soon he was larger than the rest of the litter, but was still meek. Even the border collie cowed the huge Rottie. It was then that Will's started shortening Omega to simply, "Meg."
"A pussy name for a pussy dog," he'd say whenever he saw Omega.
As the years progressed, Will's alcoholism deepened. Eve was trapped in a loveless, lifeless relationship with him, but she at least had her Omega, who was every bit the positive, loving force her Husband and God were not. Towards the end, Omega was getting as broken down physically as Will was mentally and spiritually. Omega's muzzle had a shock of grizzle around it, and he walked stiffly on these cold autumn days. But he was still there for her, always, and most especially when she needed him the most.
Will finally reaped what he had sown, and died a bloody, violent death. As horrific of an experience that time was, it was also her release. It had taken some time, but she had eventually healed. And as hard as life was for her now, working two job to keep her small apartment on the edge of town, it was at least hers. The only downfall was that she only really got to love Omega just before falling asleep and before she got up for work.
As she snuggled into his fur, relishing his warmth and safety, she bolted awake as she heard her door crash open. She scrambled for the phone as a dark shape filled the doorway as it rushed her. She was still struggling for the phone when Omega's guttural bark and snapping jaws overwhelmed the room, stopping only with the intruder's strangled screams...
Sheriff DeWitt surveyed the scene. The only way they would identify the invader was with fingerprints at this point. Assuming they could find a finger. He looked over to the corner where Eve sat slowly rocking, her eyes catatonic, and her hand restlessly rubbing the carpet next to her. She had been through far too much, he knew, but even he hadn't seen a body this badly eviscerated since Vietnam.
"Eve? Eve? Come on Eve, it's Sherriff DeWitt. You're OK, Eve, you're safe now."
Finally she responded to his safe, gentle voice. She looked up at him with deep earnestness and gratitude, "Omega saved me Sheriff. That guy came in, but Omega saved me."
"Now Eve, you know it couldn't have been Omega. Remember? We had to put him down after he killed your husband..."