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Last night, Josh walked out and left behind his dog, Mac. Siobhan hugged Mac on the sofa, while watching a Law and Order repeat—an elderly man shot dead in his bed, killed in his sleep, possibly, most probably, by his wife.

Siobhan finished the tub of butterscotch ice-cream and thought about big acts of violence and small acts of violence too—the words said while stirring tinned soup in a saucepan, and the mouth of another man, a stranger.

It happened several days earlier on a girls’ weekend in London. It was in a dark corner after three martinis that were so strong that on her first sip of the first one, Siobhan stamped her foot. She couldn’t blame the martinis, or her friends’ sly comments on social media.

“You taste of butterscotch,” she said.

“Schnapps,” he said. He smiled.

His teeth reminded her of Bowie’s, slightly uneven and utterly perfect. Bowie must have tasted of butterscotch, she thought, and pulled his mouth back to hers. She moaned into his mouth.

Now, she sat in her car, watching Josh play football. Maybe she’d hugged Mac too tight and squeezed the breath out of him. She had learned that a dog can die in your arms, like a man on a battlefield, staring and giving up his ghost.

Siobhan stepped out of the car and Josh raised his head and looked at her. His coach yelled at him and still he didn’t move.

She glanced back into her car. Contrary to what you said, I absolutely give a fuck about you, about us. On the backseat, Mac was wrapped in a blanket. Siobhan called the vet this morning. He said he’d take care of the body, but she couldn’t drive him there. Mac was not a piece of medical waste. He lay beneath the blanket, whole and looking exactly like he used to, if you imagined him breathing, if you imagined life in his eyes, if you imagined his smile.

She made the shape of a phone with her hand. “Call me,” she said, although Josh would not be able to hear her, “we need to bury Mac.”

Flash Fiction by Melissa Goode
Picture: Hans by Aaron Jacobs under CC BY-SA 2.0

Published in Summer 2017


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