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I wonder if Johnny remembers when we started to grow. Playtime was so important. My favorite was the ball in the field. Toss, catch or miss, back and forth, back and forth. It was how we talked. How we bonded. Didn't matter how angry or sad we were, the moment the ball was flying we were happy again.

One day Johnny told me he was going to school. I already knew that. He went to school almost every day (although some days he called it 'work'), but this school was different. He didn't bring friends home at night. Actually, he didn't come home for lots of nights at a time. Mom let me sleep with her at first, but soon said I was too big and had to stay in our room. It was lonely though, so I got in his bed when she went to sleep, and then back to mine before she woke up. I was careful, and she didn't say anything, but somehow I think she knew.

Johnny talked on the phone. Mom would play them for me when I was very sad. It made me happy to know he was happy. I understood some of the things he said. Exams were school. Parties were friends (always fun, though my ear is still bent funny from the chair that fell on me). Work and school were the same place (although I always thought they were anyway). Then he talked about ball. Made the team, he said. He was going to be the catcher now. I wonder if I could have made the team too, but I'm always happy he made the team.

He came home when it got cold out, and everything was like it was before, but soon he went back to school. He still called, but not as often. It was getting warm again when he came home with Jane. She was new. Not as fun, but nice. She talked to me the way nice girls do, and that made Johnny happy, so I was happy. Mom started calling Jane family before the weather got hot again.

It got cool, cold, warm, and hot again two more times before he finally came home for good. Well, he didn't come home home, but I got to see him every day, even if we didn't go out to play. I wish I could have gone to see his other home, because it sounded so strange and exciting.

One day he said he had to go again. This time was different. He told me be strong and look after Mom. Said I love you to me almost as much as he said it to Mom and Jane. Everybody was scared, and that made me scared. I don't know why we were all scared, but it seems if we were all scared, then going away had to be a bad thing. Mom said so too, but he said he had to, and so he did.

We didn't see him for a very long time. When he talked on Mom's screen he was happy and promised we'd play ball again, but Mom and Jane cried when Johnny wasn't on the screen. It got worse when the big screen started saying words that scared Mom. She said them a lot on the phone. Words like bomb and truck and critical. Johnny stopped talking on the screen and on the phone. People came and went. Some I knew. Some I didn't. Some said I'm sorry. Some said Be strong. They talked a lot about him.

I miss Johnny.

Mom and I went to a new place one day. There were a lot of people there who didn't seem right. Very sad. Very scared. I don't know why. It was a nice place. Bright and full of fields and a pond, and some even had their families there too. It would have been a very nice place if everybody wasn't sad and scared.

Mom was talking to one of the not-scared people when I heard a whistle. When I looked, Johnny was standing in the grass calling me. I got so excited I think I might have had an accident, but we were on grass and nobody seemed to mind. I ran to him and kissed him over and over so he knew how much I loved and missed him, and he hugged me and said Hi and I missed you over and over. And then I cried. He was sad and scared like the others, but he hurt too. He said over and over that he loved me and promised he was going to come home, and he did. I don't know where Jane went, but Johnny came home, so that made everything alright.

Alright didn't last, though. Johnny yelled and cried a lot in his sleep. Sometimes he got mean. Sometimes he got very sad. People came and went, but he didn't really talk like he used to. I would have liked all the time he spent with me, but I think he did for very bad reasons. For whatever reasons made Mom scared of bomb and truck and critical. For whatever reasons made him walk funny.

Johnny doesn't like to do things with others any more. He doesn't cry as much, but he doesn't talk unless he thinks it will make Mom and the others happy. He tries to be alone, but they always follow, so he talks for them until they leave. He doesn't seem to mind me, though, so I stay close to look after him.

I drop the ball in his lap and look up at him. Maybe we can talk again like we used to. It rolls off, so I pick it up and sit it on his lap again. When it starts to roll I lay my head on his lap and look up at him. I cry a little, because I don't know how to help him stop crying. Ball always worked before. Why won't it work now?

He sniffs. Shakes like he does when he cries.

And then he talks.

And talks.

And talks.

I don't understand a lot of it. They're dead, and, Peace-keeping, and, It should have been me. I think these are the words he wants-doesn't-want to tell Mom, or somebody. I think they're words he can't tell any of them because they might hurt them as much as they hurt him. So I listen. I don't understand it all. I don't understand why those words hurt so bad. I understand he needs to talk, though. It's not how we talk, but that's okay.

After a while Johnny just holds me and cries. I nuzzle him now and then so he knows I still love him and want him to be happy. Sometimes he cries harder, and sometimes not so much. Eventually he grows quiet.

Sniff. Let's play.

I shiver, happy for good words. He holds the ball as he stands and walks that funny walk of his, like one leg is too long. I follow him out to the field, and then run when I see the ball pass overhead. I get ahead just in time, leap, and catch it.

Good boy.

I shiver again, and then run back to him with the ball. I sit and while I wait for him to take it my tail beats back and forth against the cool ground. He throws the ball, and I run, miss it, but bring it back anyway. Throw, catch or miss, back and forth, back and forth. Back and forth until it gets dark. This is how we talk. He tells me he's not alright. He wants to be, he'll try to be, but he's not. I tell him it's okay. I want to help him any way I can.

And maybe, just maybe, one day it'll be like when we started to grow.

Feedback on anything under the sun is greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading! :)

Written for The Review Game's Writing Challenge Contest over on FictionPress, April 2014.

Prompt: Those Who Play for Ghosts, by ricochet188.

While I had two other ideas for the WCC this month, this one seemed to speak to me the most, which is odd because it strayed much further from the obvious themes invoked by the prompt than the other two ideas. Feedback on anything under the sun is greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading! :)

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Edit: Whoa, a DD!  O_O  Thank you to all who have taken the time to read, comment, :+fav:, etc, and thank you to GromFace242 for the feature!  :aww:


Add a Comment:
 

Daily Deviation

Given 2014-05-11
Taking on the perspective of a dog, Play Ball by bryosgirl touches your heart while capturing life and its ups and downs in a simplified fashion. ( Featured by inknalcohol )
:icondreamworld88:
A very interesting and entertaining story. I enjoyed the plot and perspective. The story would interest me less, if say, told by Johnny's sibling or something. A few minor details bothered me.
Your sentence structure stays almost the same the entire story. You almost always start the sentence with the subject. For example: "I shiver again, and then run back to him with the ball." The sentence isn't bad in itself, it's just when most of the piece consists of these types of sentences it becomes a problem. You could say something like: Shivering, I run toward him with the ball. It's starting a sentence with a verb, a variation on the format you use here. You can also begin sentences with adverbs and prepositions.
If this was written in the perspective of a human, I'd comment on how you tell the emotions instead of show them, but since this is in the perspective of a dog, I'll let it slide.
I liked the character development a lot.
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
16 out of 16 deviants thought this was fair.

The Artist has requested Critique on this Artwork

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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner May 16, 2014   Writer
Conclusion: writing things from a pet's perspective makes everything much, much sadder. Oddly enough, this is the second piece like that I've read today. Meaning I'm now an emotional wreck.

Very, very well done.
Reply
:icon15luccahunter:
15LuccaHunter Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Amazing... I wish I could write like you
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Aww, thanks! I've still got a long way to go as a writer, but I'm really glad you enjoyed this piece! :aww:
Reply
:iconlytrigian:
Lytrigian Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
This is one of those stories where I'm sure it's OK for a real man to get something in his eye.
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Well, if it helps any, part of what inspired this was stories about soldiers finding solace in their pets when they return from duty, so it's totally cool for that dust to be all up in the eye!

Anyhoo, thank you kindly for the read and :+fav:!
Reply
:iconriannoodlton:
RianNoodlton Featured By Owner May 11, 2014
Oh I guess that was the point
Reply
:iconriannoodlton:
RianNoodlton Featured By Owner May 11, 2014
You wanted feedback so I'll give it to you...I didn't know it was a dog into the last few paragraphs. I thought it was like a little sibling who didn't understand much.
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
The funny thing is, originally I was thinking about going with a young sibling, likely with a developmental issue, but I dunno, somehow it just seemed to make more sense in my mind if the narrator was a dog. :)   Anyway, thank you very much! :D
Reply
:iconriannoodlton:
RianNoodlton Featured By Owner May 14, 2014
Good job :)
Reply
:iconquazdren:
QuazDren Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
AMAZINNNGGGGGGGGG! I'm so happy that this got a daily deviation! Oh My Gawd [Read Description] 
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you!
Reply
:iconseptemberskies2298:
SeptemberSkies2298 Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Beautiful and strong and ahh, just so perfect :love: congrats on the DD, it was well deserved!
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you kindly!  I'm really glad you enjoyed it! :D
Reply
:iconfindingwhatslost:
FindingWhatsLost Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist
This is a beautiful piece! I'm so glad that this got a daily deviation! Amazing work! 
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Aww, thank you! :aww: I'm really glad you enjoyed it!
Reply
:iconfindingwhatslost:
FindingWhatsLost Featured By Owner May 14, 2014  Hobbyist
:D
Reply
:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz::iconflyingheartsplz: :clap::clap::clap:
I’m very happy for you!!! :iconloveloveplz: :tighthug:
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks, Eve! ^_^
Reply
:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner May 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:iconflyingheartsplz::iconsweethugplz::iconflyingheartsplz:
Reply
:iconkamentantei:
Kamentantei Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
amazing and beautiful.
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks :)
Reply
:iconkamentantei:
Kamentantei Featured By Owner May 14, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
no prob
Reply
:iconanimalhopes:
AnimalHopes Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Aww, so cute!
At first, I thought narrator was a girl who played ball with her friend Johnny, but then Johnny got in a car wreck and died.
Soon I found out that the rest of his family died and the narrator is a dog! What a story!
You did a great job with this ^^
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you kindly!

In all honesty the story is actually about how a dog perceives his owner leaving and then coming back from war, the truck being a reference to IEDs. It's actually quite neat to hear how others interpret though, so thank you for sharing your thoughts! :D
Reply
:iconanimalhopes:
AnimalHopes Featured By Owner May 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome ^^
Reply
:iconkillroyskolt:
KillroysKolt Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Cool story bro...I like it.
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks :)
Reply
:icondenisecroy:
DeniseCroy Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Everyone certainly told you that, but you FOOLED ME TO THE END. 

Amazing job. 
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I'm actually glad to hear the twist worked so well. Thank you! :aww:
Reply
:icondenisecroy:
DeniseCroy Featured By Owner May 15, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome ! And since I forgot, congratulations on getting a DD for it, you deserved it !
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 15, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks! :aww:
Reply
:iconmiellat:
Miellat Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Student Writer
I COULD NOT tell this was a dog up until the point I heard, "tail wagging" and, "Good boy!" 
That surprised me, and made me enjoy the story even more. So heartfelt. Fantastic. 
I admire you, you have skill. Thank you for the good read! :la: A watch for you!
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you kindly! :aww: It's greatly appreciated!
Reply
:iconmiellat:
Miellat Featured By Owner May 17, 2014  Student Writer
Awww, you're welcome! :la:
Reply
:iconblacksummerdreams:
BlackSummerDreams Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I loved this. It made me think.


It wasn't preachy and it wasn't trying too hard with the innocence of the child.
I was really touched, Hug you're a really good writer.
At first I was just combing through it as I would any deviation work, but at some point I became really interested.
I think my favourite part was from when Johnny had the ball put in his lap and he talks and talks and talks to the ending, the ending line was good and skillfully linked up with the start.
Some parts of the story felt unclear, like the bit were he's talking on a screen (A tv screen?) but then I guess it's unclear to the narrator of the story too and it got the point across anyway with the phone calls so it's ok.
I really loved the description of Jane~ it reminded me of my older brother's girlfriend to be honest :) (Smile) 
I think you can tell to a certain extent that this was written for a contest.
I'm gonna look at more of your stuff from now on this rocked!Heart  Got my eyes on you Stare ! :D

The love between the two's evident and really cute too! It expresses a lot more than i can put into words here about sometimes just needing someone to be there to just listen and hurt that takes time to heal.
If there's any way i can sum up the relationship between the two it's this emoticon: Comfort me. 
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah, I really didn't know how to handle the television and skype references. Screen seemed to be the best bet because I figure, well, I suppose some dogs hear the whole "Don't touch the screen," thing.

Anyway, thank you very much for the comment, and I'm glad you enjoyed reading! :aww:
Reply
:iconvividdreams13:
VividDreams13 Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist
This is so cute :3 I love it and I love the way it's written!!
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
Reply
:iconalfangmindsculptor42:
AlFangMindSculptor42 Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
So beautiful. That moment when you realize that it's a dog. :o
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Hee hee. :D

Thank you!
Reply
:iconalfangmindsculptor42:
AlFangMindSculptor42 Featured By Owner May 14, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome.
Reply
:iconfeathers-of-fluff:
feathers-of-fluff Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Really good job at keeping the 'secret' until the end. Really good story. It's beautiful.
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! I'm glad the twist worked. :)
Reply
:iconlunaterasu:
Lunaterasu Featured By Owner May 11, 2014
Oh god....my heart stopped when I realized it was being told by a dog! For half the story I though it was his little brother! D':
This is so swwet and sad! :icongrosssobplz:
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks! :D
Reply
:iconceltic-lily:
Celtic-Lily Featured By Owner May 11, 2014
Just... awwww. So sweet and sad. Took me ages to realise it was told from the dog's point of view, I thought it was a little sister or something.
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 12, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah, that was sort of the twist I was hoping to accomplish. :)  Thank you kindly!
Reply
:iconfredweirdo:
fredweirdo Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I cried, this really shows how an animal or even child perceives the world. Such a beautiful piece. 
Reply
:iconbryosgirl:
bryosgirl Featured By Owner May 12, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
There are some things I want to fix up with the voice and how much the narrator understands, but yeah, I've always thought that pets and children share the same sort of empathy for their family. :)

Anyhoo, thank you kindly!
Reply
:icontatzuyoshi:
Tatzuyoshi Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very well written and so, so beautiful. :heart: :love: 
Reply
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