Ever since I took up four-legged walking, I’ve seen the world in a whole new way. It started at the park when I approached a group of four-leggers and asked them why they did it.
“See for yourself,” said a middle-aged redhead, looking up from the dandelion she’d been sniffing.
So I threw down my purse and pressed my palms to the grass, felt a moist warmth cradle my fingers.
“Knees off the ground!” the lady said. “We don’t crawl like babies. This is sophisticated four-legged exploration.”
So I lifted my knees and began to walk. It was hard at first. My back ached a bit. But within a few minutes the appeal was clear. I was instantly immersed in a brand new world, the scent of summer earth awakening my nostrils, ants and beetles tickling my knuckles. To think my fingertips had so many nerve endings and I had never used them to explore the ground! With a new-found urgency, I dug my nails into the soil, slid my fingers along worms, rocks, roots I never knew were there.
Then the walking path caught my eye, shades of grey glittering, beckoning me over. For once I said yes to my burning desire, cared nothing for the side-eye of nosy two-leggers. I moved off the grass and onto the path, moaned with pleasure as bits of sharp gravel embedded in my palms. I had never felt so alive before.
Four-legged walking was an instant addiction, a love I couldn’t limit to the park alone. Soon I was four-legging at work and at home, at the grocery store with the basket balanced on my back.
My boss was displeased but sank into silence when I told him it was my right to walk the way I wanted. In fact, everyone at the office became silent when I passed, which was perfectly fine because it relieved me of small talk.
At home I explored heating vents, complex carpet fibres, the intricacies of dust bunnies I had never noticed. For a while my husband found it amusing, until last Tuesday when I decided to take my dinner on the dining room floor. I sucked up spaghetti noodles one by one, my palms pressed thankfully the floor. It just felt right. The way I should have eaten my entire life.
From the chair beside me I sensed a stillness, felt the burn of my husband’s critical stare.
He can’t take this from me, I thought, my nostrils flaring, the end of a noodle slapping sauce on my face.
Finally he stood, his legs confronting me.
“This has to stop,” said a voice somewhat quieter than the one I knew.
I felt a sudden pang. He was probably lonely up there. But what could I do? I no longer cared for an upright existence.
“I’m living the way I want to,” I told his shins. Would he remember all the times he told me the same thing, walking out the door at 9pm?
“I never see your face anymore,” he said, his voice slightly cracking.
I was staring at his kneecaps just below his shorts. I’d never noticed how square they were.
“You could always join me,” I heard my voice say, another hallow echo of his own favourite words.
He didn’t reply, just walked away, Achilles tendons flexing.
Andrea Lynn Koohi is a writer from Toronto, Canada. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in Idle Ink, The Maine Review, Pithead Chapel, Streetlight Magazine, the winnow magazine and Emerge Literary Journal. Find her on Twitter @AndreaKoohi