(A flash of short fact/fiction)
The social worker in the blue dress is not about to be bitten by small dogs today. She came to see you because her boss asked her to, to make sure that you haven’t killed yourself yet, that your baby is getting fat, and that your two-year-old is wearing clothes.
The social worker in the blue dress thinks the evil-spirited pack of chihuahuas is yours. She thinks you have done a particularly terrible job of training them but she doesn’t blame you, having two babies to take care of and a complicated husband. She scurries from the gate into your one-room apartment behind the main house, receiving only one slight sharp-toothed nip to the heel.
You convince her that you’re doing alright. You apologize for the mess in the kitchen. She didn’t exactly call to tell you she was coming, or ask if it was a good time. It’s not a good time. But you don’t exactly have a phone, because your husband takes it to work with him. She’s nice enough and she ignores the mess, points out to you that your baby is really good at following things with his eyes.
As she’s leaving, she asks you to call off the dogs and you tell her that they aren’t your dogs. They are the landlady’s dogs. And the landlady isn’t home.
The social worker in the blue dress walks to the door and the menacing pack of furious chihuahuas is nowhere to be seen, so she steps out into the sunshine of the yard. She is halfway to the gate when they see the intruder, and come snarling at her, needle teeth bared. They take turns lunging at her while she shouts and tries to frighten them.
They aren’t frightened. Each lunge comes closer to her ankles and their camaraderie emboldens them. You scream at them uselessly from the safety of your doorway.
The social worker in the blue dress doesn’t have much time to think, but there is one thing that she is sure of–that she is not about to be bitten by small dogs today. With complete disregard for her dignity, she breaks into a dead run, headed toward the rickrty wooden fence. She won’t have time for the gate. She isn’t even running toward the gate. She hits the top of the wooden fence with both hands and vaults. There is the flash of pink polka dotted panties in the sun.
You stare at the social worker in the blue dress who is suddenly standing on the other side of the fence, panting, safe, looking surprised and a little sheepish. The stunned chihuahuas fall silent for a moment.
“Alright,” she says breathlessly, patting her hair and straightening her blue dress.
The chihuahuas find their voices and leap at the fence.
You don’t quite know what to say to the social worker in the blue dress who just jumped over your fence. She doesn’t seem to know quite what to say to you.
“Sorry about the dogs,” you offer.
“No problem,” she answers, and then giggles a little, accidentally. “Sorry to run away.”
“Oh,” you say, because you can’t think of anything.
“I didn’t want to get bitten,” she says.
“Yeah,” you reply.
She gets into her car and drives away. The dogs look at you disappointedly and begin sniffing her footprints in the yard.
You turn around and go back into the dark, dirty apartment where your two year old is pouring milk on the floor beside a cup. But instead of yelling at her, you sit down on a chair and laugh for the first time since you can remember.