You Should Ask for More

By Rachel Sudbeck

December 28, 2020

You Should Ask for More

“Am I sad?” I ask my dog, because it’s not something I recognize anymore. Sadness had come so thick and urgent for a while that the quieter emotions don’t register like they used to. She looks back at me, mid-squat, doesn’t seem to have an answer.

When I first got her she looked at me from the whites of her eyes, peed with her tail between her legs, got her fur wet with piss. As I wiped her down she trembled beneath my touch, and I thought, this will get to be too much for me. I thought, we’ll never learn to love each other, because I made the idiot decision to get a dog when I was too useless and sad for one.

When she curls beside me on the couch I tell her, I love you very much. I tell her, you should ask for more.

But it’s a dusky kind of lighting, now. She’s pulling her line taut along the tree-shaded sidewalk, trying to smell the world’s silver edges. Our walks are long, because we both enjoy them and they’re good for us, and life doesn’t offer a lot of things that are good without being complicated.

We’re a half-hour from home, still, when she starts begging to be picked up. By now I can tell when she’s asking because she’s tired, and when she just wants to be held.


Rachel Sudbeck lives with her tiny dog in Iowa City, where she’s a third-year MFA candidate in the University of Iowa’s Creative Nonfiction Program. Her work has been published in: The Rumpus “Enough” Series, and Atticus Review. She's working on a book, and she’s happy to be here.


Photo by Erik Mclean courtesy of Pexels
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