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Creative Writing

A piece of flash fiction with a dark shade of sadness.

Dog

I see Erin in her red jumpers clutching the black toy dog. She stares at me with begging eyes, even before she asks it through gapped teeth I hear the question. She wanted a real puppy dog for her birthday. I know her disappointment. But the black eyes of the toy dog still stares into my soul.

***

All of us knew that Cassie was sick. Her energy was laid low, in the same way her tail was always hidden between her legs. She dragged herself to her bowl, licking up her food, not bothering to eat anything that needed chewing. Her boundless joy diminished into the effort of daily life. We knew that her time was approaching you could see it when you look out the window. She is a black void on the green grass. Somehow I realise that today was the day. Nothing should suffer, it is unfair to a dog who cannot utter words but cries in yelps and pathetic growls.

When I get home after school, my dad takes me aside. A cold tremble comes over me. It is worse than a shudder.

“We have to bury the dog,” he tells me. I look up at him, disgusted, “Cassie. Why should I go? I am not the oldest, nor am I the boy.” I spit out the words to him.

“Bring the black bag at the back of the house, use the garden gate, and don’t bring it through the house.”

I open the swing door half heartedly, the rusty whine a familiar sound. As I go closer to the back, the black sickening stench envelopes my throat. I know why my dad asked me, he always asks me. I am not weak; I can do a man’s job. He needs me to do it, so that my mom doesn’t look at him in repulsion. I know the glance.

Heavily I carry the bag, some centimetres above the ground. I haul it over the pickup truck, the dead weight sagging, next to the waiting shovels. I get in beside my father, the drive is quiet. My father attempts to speak, but the silence shoves the words back to his throat. A dead dog at the back of a car, once a friend, now the only sign of mourning is the black bag in which it waits.

To my disgusted surprise we stopped at the local junk yard, stuff that no-one can use except for maybe finding an odd but useful part for a chair that is residing in a lonely garage. It is a sad scene, broken parts scattered like the tower of Babel. Television parts that can’t fit anywhere except on the exact same model of the exact same year. Sad sofas with faded flowery covers and missing limbs lie carelessly stacked. The lines on my father’s face are like clouds against the blue sky. He hands me a shovel, as he lifts the bag from the pickup truck. With my mouth gaping in late response, the bag nicks a sharp edge. Thick dark red blood trickles to the ground. Shocked my father drops the bag, before the dark fluid stains. I step back stunned as I quietly whisper Cassie’s name. Thoughts leap around in my head as I try to force them away.

“Why all the blood?”, I ask. No answer except for the shovel hitting the ground. Is that how the dog was put out of its misery, being struck again and again with a shovel. My back aches, strained from digging, the hole yawning at me. A small puddle of thick fluid gathered under the bag. Unceremoniously my father puts the bag in the grave. I feel my face pale as I grimace, I feel like I am disrespecting some universal law. I jump in the hole even though my father tries to stop me. This is not fair to me, burying my dog, so I ignore his objections. I rip the black bag open that contains so much death. The black fur is sticky, her beloved head limp. The tears stream down my face as I stroke her head. A gracious head once filled with starry eyes and undying loyalty. How could my beloved friend be no more than an object.

That night, my father called all the children together, he broke the news gently to my sisters and my brother. He avoided my eyes as I stared at him. That night I crept out of bed when I was sure everybody was asleep. I went to the bathroom and vomited from the image of blood and gore stuck in my head. I retched until I was empty. Empty of feelings, of tears and of whatever was left inside of me.

My kids will never have dogs.