Dogs Go to Heaven

Lick my face, tell me
I’m not dreaming. My
scent lingers on your
damp nose long after
they’ve buried me.
Had they said man
and beast existed together
in more than one realm,
you would’ve dug through
the shoveled dirt sooner,
tangled my bones within
your thick, wool-like fur.
It’s true that God drew
woman from my side;
a helper to rule the earth—
But He pinned the feathered
tail on the hind of the
four-legged mutt, for the seventh
day rest. My palm underneath
your snout, scratching behind
floppy ears, your paw on my knee.
Forever my companion.

—Nortina


frapalymo#frapalymo (the German version of NaPoWriMo) is hosted by FrauPaulchen and translated from German into English by Bee over at Just Fooling Around With Bee. Today’s prompt is “dogs.”

Veterinarian Val

I lost an hour listening to Uriah. The residents had filled the cafeteria by then, each with a plate in front of them, munching slowly. A few stragglers wandered in from their rooms, including Tammy, refreshed from a three hour nap. She walked straight to our table when she saw us, leaning heavily against her walker—the balance in her legs not fully awake yet. She wrapped her arms around Grandma’s shoulders and gave her a tight squeeze.

“I had a dream about you.”

“That doesn’t sound good,” Grandma said between chews.

“Is that all?” Thomas asked, clearly anxious to know if Tammy remembered Grandma’s disturbing confession about Pete that sent her fleeing to her room for a “nap” in the first place.

“It was about you and your husband.”

“Which one?” Jerry carved his knife across his half-empty plate. The silver scraped harshly against the ceramic, making a high-pitched sound that rivaled dog whistles. I rubbed my knuckle against my eardrum and tried to ignore him, staring at Tammy’s wrinkly, age spot covered hand instead.

My mind lingered on the thought of whether Jerry would stab Tammy if she mentioned Pete, to protect Grandma—maybe between her fingers just to scare her into silence. The knife was a dud, barely sharper than a butter knife. Even in this fragile crowd, it couldn’t do any real damage. The chicken meat seemed tender enough, but the knife couldn’t even cut through the thick crust of the skin. Frank had actually peeled the skin away and started picking the meat from between the bones, licking the tips of his greasy fingers as his tongue looped the chicken into his mouth.

“The doctor,” Tammy said, and Jerry dropped his knife, seemingly satisfied with her answer.

“Aw, Tammy, not while we’re eating!” Grandma covered her mouth, spat her food into a napkin, then folded it neatly into a triangle and tucked it under her place mat.

V“No, I don’t mean Burt. The animal doctor.”

“Oh. Val.”

“Yes. You always spoke so fondly of him. What happened to him again?”

Grandma pushed herself back from the table. I could hear the echo of the clock ticking in my ear as she twirled her tongue around the molars in the corners of her mouth, preparing to talk about another husband.

“Tammy, would you like to sit?” I said quickly, getting up to offer her my seat.

“No! She can pull up a chair.” Grandma snapped her fingers behind her where two men sat at a table of four.

“Grandma, I really can’t stay.”

Grandma waved for me to sit back down. “Val will be quick. I was only married to him a year.”

“You were married to the last three for a year!”

Ignoring me, Grandma scooted her chair down closer to Frank to allow Tammy to sit between us.

“I feel like it would be wrong of me to talk about Val while I’m eating this chicken,” Grandma said, picking at the crispy skin with her fork. “You see, Val wasn’t just a veterinarian. He was a vegetarian too. It would’ve been hypocritical for him to be a devoted animal lover and still eat meat. So he gave it up a long time ago, and when we got married, he made me give it up too.”

“Must’ve been hard after all that food Uriah was feeding you,” Thomas said.

“Any other time, I would’ve flat out said no. You can’t make me give up my chicken, and my bacon, oooh, and that spicy smoked sausage. No way! But we all needed a diet after Uriah. Linda was getting teased at school, Rick couldn’t walk up the stairs without losing his breath, and I was starting to look pregnant.”

“Maybe you were,” Thomas said.

Grandma rolled her eyes. “I think I would’ve known if I was pregnant, smarty pants.”

“So you only ate vegetables?” Jerry asked. “What a waste!”

“Fruits, vegetables, beans. It’s amazing how great they taste when that’s all you’re eating. All that weight just shed right off. It was the healthiest I’ve ever been. Even though Val’s gone, I still try to stick to that diet, avoid meat a few days out the week. Keeps my brain from turning to mush.”

“That why you ain’t touched your chicken?” Frank said. Brown crumbs and spittle collected around the corners of this mouth.

“You think I got to looking this good eating fried chicken everyday?” Grandma said, twisting her hips.

“Not by a long shot,” Thomas said. He had that look in his eyes that said, don’t lock your door tonight. Grandma read it and immediately shied away, her cheeks turning a bright violet again illuminating tiny brown freckles around her nose and cheekbones.

“Meg, are you hungry?” She asked, directing the attention elsewhere. She looked over Tammy’s head and slid her plate down the table to me. “They’ll feed you here, but it’ll cost more than eating out. You can have my plate. I’m done.”

“I’m actually going out,” I said.

“I’ll take it.” Tammy didn’t wait for my response. She snatched the plate in  front of her, took my fork and knife, and dug in.

“By yourself or with someone?” Grandma asked.

I hesitated to answer. If I said with someone, she would only interrogate me on who he was, how long I knew him, his age, if he was married, if he had kids, if we had a future. I quickly checked my watch and jolted from my seat, knocking my chair into the back of the man behind me. “Sorry,” I mumbled as I scooped up my purse from the floor and slid the chair under the table. Another thirty minutes gone.

“Is it a boy?”

“Grandma, I’m twenty-six.” I sighed. Would I ever stop being a child to her?

“I’m sorry. A man then?”

“Wait!” Tammy shook Grandma’s shoulder. “You didn’t say how Val died.”

“Oh, he was bit by a rabid dog!” Grandma said hurriedly. She slapped away Tammy’s hand and looked up at me expecting an answer.

“You’re ringing.” Frank pointed to my purse. I hadn’t heard my ringtone at all, but now it was loud and clear as a siren. I wondered how long it’d been ringing. I pulled out my phone, and Kyle’s number flashed on the screen. He’d better not be calling to cancel.

—Nortina


Don’t forget to check out other blogs participating in the A to Z Challenge. Maybe you’ll come across one that’s not two days behind. 😉

“I’m Ready For My Close-Up, Baby Jesus”

So I missed Days 19 and 20 of my 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans, but I have a good reason! I was taking pictures of some hairy holiday hooligans to share with you today. 😉

This weekend I went to a local church to see their production of Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity. The play was fantastic. I loved the costumes, the African dancing, the musical numbers, and of course the story at the center, the birth of the wonderful baby Jesus Christ.

Afterwards, the pastor invited everyone to check out their live nativity scene on the front lawn. Unfortunately, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus hadn’t quite made it yet, but the animals were there, and they were giving us all a hoot. Especially that camel! He was taking selfies, sniffing the children’s heads, singing Christmas carols with that low “growl” from the back of his throat (what sound do camels make?). He was the true holiday hooligan this weekend!

Stray

He thought he found the perfect hiding spot.

It had been three days since he’d last eaten. He’d knocked over a trashcan, broken a glass milk bottle onto the street, licked up traces of warm milk from the asphalt. It wasn’t easy being stray. People on sidewalks kicked at him, scrunched their noses at the missing patches of fur.

The mechanic usually left breadcrumbs by the curb for the birds in the morning. He would sneak in and take his share amongst the flapping wings and pecking beaks, but today, the mechanic was late, so he strolled through the neighborhood, looking for houses with empty driveways, open windows, door flaps.

It was just his luck that the house he chose was home to a German shepherd asleep on a cushion in the hallway. He hoped the dog wouldn’t hear him crunching on the Cheetos he’d found in a bag atop the coffee table. 

 

word count: 145

—Nortina


Mondays Finish the Story: a flash fiction challenge where we provide you with a new photo each week, and the first sentence of a story. Your challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided.

Click the froggy icon to read other stories and add your own.

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