The truth is, I’m scared of the old lady. I’m still very scared, even after so many years. I’m aware that I’m not her first. She has pictures of my predecessors. Maybe they’re my betters. I don’t know. Currently, I have to be better than them, because I’m still alive. And they’re all dead. I’m not sure where they go, but there’s a canine scent and the salty tang of something dead in the corner of the backyard, underground. I usually don’t go over there when I’m out. She puts her precious things underground, which is an impulse I recognize. Stows them for later.
Reasoning by analogy, I will probably join them over there. I’ve seen a dead dog before. I know we’re not immortal. A sibling of mine, before our eight weeks with our mom were up, got thrown against a tree repeatedly by a child. It’s sad to see a puppy all still and free of this vale of tears before he even knew tears about stuff other than like not getting fed right when he wanted or our mom stepping on his foot a little as she got out of the box. He never had to spend the night on linoleum, lying in his own puddle of pee, whimpering for something familiar, like I did the first night I came here.
She’s fine. Don’t be mistaken, she’s nice. But we just don’t spark.
And she seems to have gone on forever. She’s had so many of us. She’ll be here after I’m gone. My lifespan is like a little parentheses in hers. Assuming she has a lifespan. Don’t laugh at me, but I’m not sure that she, or they, die. I mean it makes sense that they would, don’t misunderstand me. They’re flesh like us.
I’ve had talks with that flippin crazy Bouvier down the street who sunk a tooth or two into his master. It didn’t earn him any points. Then he told me he was going to before he went after that kid’s face and after that came home from the vet wrapped in an old Garfield beach towel, smelling not rotted but stopped. It makes you realize that living things have a propelled smell. It’s almost not a smell, somehow behind the smell.
The point is, even though they’re flesh too, they last, don’t they? Don’t blame me for imagining that there’s something special about them.
When she chunks the food bowl down and rattles out the bits, I always try to resist it, the way I try to stay away from my own grassy vomit piles, but I can’t. From wherever I am in the house I move myself there with speed. My tail goes. I wish I could stop it. They show it all in their faces, or that laughing. I’ve got a clipped tail with which to express myself. I think it’s unfortunate that I’m so limited, broad. Do you want to know if I’m happy? Is the tail going? Is it whipping back and forth like one of those springy stoppers behind a door after you give it a smack it with a paw? Yes? Then your question is answered.
It’s strange though that she has existed so long before me and will exist after me. They feel like that about what? About mountains? About bodies of water? They feel existentially dwarfed by what? By who? Probably nothing.
Image by Gabe Stevenson