023. The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage
*This post is part of A Grimm Project, a series of short fiction pieces using each of the Brothers Grimms’ Nursery and Household Tales as writing prompts. For more information about the project, click here. For more about the story which inspired this freewrite, click here.*
The dog took up his post at 4pm, as per usual, just as the sun was settling low in the sky, like a wheezing woman sinking into an old chair. The road between the village and the capitol was at its busiest at early dusk. Tradesmen creaked their wagons homeward and mothers lumbered back from market with bread under their arms and children, tired, whining behind them. The dog liked to smell the children’s palms, on which lingered traces of each scrumptious thing the children had fondled before being told no, you’ll ruin your dinner, and for goodness’ sake wipe your nose. The children, and their parents, too, smelled familiar to the dog, and familiar was what he liked.
No one had ever told him to guard the road — but the dog could see that it needed guarding, and he figured himself the best candidate. He was old, nearly twelve, but his nose was still sharp.
In fact, it was his nose which stayed awake on evenings such as this, while the dog himself dozed. This was the bargain he’d struck with himself, for he knew his best skills, and how to account for them. The dog’s eyelids closed while his discerning nostrils remained open. The nose sniffed — the traces of a fine fish chowder — and the dog fancied himself swimming through thick, creamy brine, snapping at haddock, licking the peppered chunks of yellow potato clean.