The man I thought I would marry bought me a dog. We drove all the way out to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to get her. She was born on an Amish farm and had four brothers. A little girl, who was maybe five years old, brought her out of the farmhouse. The little girl was struggling to hold back her tears while she placed the dog into my arms. The puppy was the kind that made you sink into yourself and maybe even into her. She looked like a deformed guinea pig and had black spots all over, and she cried the whole ride home.
The man I thought I would marry loved the dog at first. Maybe that’s because Echo started to talk to us after a while. She howled in the morning and at night before bed. He would wake up early before me and take her outside in the snow. I would hear them like two little children prancing around. The man asked, “Who’s my good girl?” and the dog answered with her howl.
He didn’t like her staying in the bed with us.
“She’s fine on the floor,” he said. “There’s no room up here.”
So every night I would make her bed on the floor and watch her curl into a tiny ball. She waited until I put my hand down to her, and we would fall asleep like that, with half my body off the bed and her spotted nose asleep on my hand.
The man I thought I would marry wanted to crate her during the day. He was afraid if she was free to roam the apartment, she would escape somehow. We forced the dog and her stuffed monkey into the crate every morning, only to listen to her cry while we slipped on our boots and went out the door.
She hated staying in our apartment alone all day and ripped up her monkey in protest. She nearly clawed the latch to pieces trying to get out.
One night while the man I thought I would marry was brushing his teeth, the dog bit the lamp cord on his nightstand—her baby teeth cut right through. She electrocuted herself and involuntarily pooped on the carpet near his side of the bed. I ran to help the dog, but the man ripped the cord from her mouth, taking several of her teeth with it. He said, “She deserves it for being out of the crate.”
Echo huddled under the bed, crying, until I army crawled to get to her and pulled her out. I slept on the floor with her that night, feeling her breath in sync with mine as I held her close, watching her spotted belly rise and fall.
Later that week, when the man I thought I would marry took her outside in the early morning, I heard him yelling. He howled louder than the dog ever could. I ran outside to see Echo running far away—escaping—and the man chasing after.
For a while after, the man I thought I would marry looked at other dogs online. We laid in bed, both of us on our phones, and he would poke me in the leg with his toes and hold his phone near mine to show me another dog: a corgi named Max, a cocker spaniel named Bailey, but we never had another one. The loss was too much.
It was a few months later, during an argument, when the man I thought I would marry grabbed me by the neck. And just like the dog, I made my escape.