by Kim Chinquee
Wake up! says Raven the dog, standing over us. She puts her nose to mine, then to my boyfriend’s, getting between us.
She paws at my face, the pace of her movement gaining in momentum. This stirs the other dogs: Bird, who talks in a whine. Part Husky, she sings when she’s sad or hurt, or hungry.
The other dog, our Japanese Chin, starts his routine of stepping all over us, and the other one, our Papillon mix, gets out from under the bed, hops up and starts his lick. He’s fond of the hair on my boyfriend.
I pull the covers over me, trying to get back to my dream of key lime soda, cauliflower crackers, a submarine that flies higher than an airplane.
The playoff continues: Raven digs with her huge paws. Bird speaks. She jumps. Our Papillon, Pappy, uses his tongue with a passion. Our Japanese Chin, Spiff, uses us as a treadmill.
I scooch myself, under the covers, under this trampoline, this gym class, closer to my boyfriend. His breath is warm, his body strong. I kiss his stubble. I nuzzle myself.
“I hear you,” I say to the dog, Pappy, from behind the door that comes between the bedroom and the kitchen, where I am, with two of our other dogs, filling their dishes, from my scoop of dog food. Pappy’s a fast eater, chunky, and I imagine his food already gone by now. We have a system for reasons like this one.
Raven, the other dog, the big and young one, is in the bathroom, probably not eating. Probably sitting by the door trying to hear what’s going on in the other rooms without her.
The bathroom has two doors: one leading to the kitchen and one leading to the bedroom. The bedroom has two doors: one to the bathroom and another, to the kitchen.
The two dogs in the kitchen: our Husky mix Bird, and our Japanese Chin, Spiff, look up at me. “Eat!” I say, and Bird paws at the water dish, which is empty. it topples. “Silly,” I say and run the dish under the sink and fill it.
As the dogs eat and drink, I add water to the vase of sunflowers that were gifted to me by my neighbors’ twin grandkids after I made them cookies for their birthdays. I finger the stem, and think of my son and his wife, if they really are never having kids like they say. They have a dog named Hazel, and a one-eyed cat named Nip, who is too fat from eating all the dog food.
Pappy paws at the door again, whines. Spiff and Bird make chopping sounds, their teeth into the hard nuggets. Spiff looks up at me with his big eyes, tilts his head. “Good boy,” I say. He looks like he’s smiling.
I head to the bathroom, where Raven is positioning herself, laying with her paws out. “Eat!” I say. But she doesn’t eat much when my boyfriend isn’t in the room with her. (But she’ll eat everyone else’s, if we let her.) “Dad’s at work, little girl,” I say. I scoop some of her food from her dish to the floor, which sometimes gets her started. I lift one kibble to my mouth, pretend to chew. “Yum,” I say and she yawns so hard and makes a sound like a Wow.
In the Reports
Be your best self, says my dad to me in a dream.
In real life, he doesn’t say this. He says things like, I’m sorry I was such a bad dad. Please don’t tell anyone about me.
I wake to the rain, my stomach rumbling. Look out to the peach tree in the back yard that I planted. I stub my toe on a chair leg.
I start to wonder who my best self is, how to use the best of me. My regrets. Wishing some of my time back.
My daughter’s married now. A soldier.
When I was young, my good friend was abducted. I was the last one, at least in the reports, who saw her.
I make myself some toast. My four dogs surround me and they stir. My partner, still in bed, talks in his sleep. He says Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice.
Kim Chinquee is the author of the collections OH BABY, PRETTY, PISTOL, VEER, SHOT GIRLS, WETSUIT, the forthcoming collection SNOWDOG, and the forthcoming novel-in-flashes, BATTLE DRESS. She’s the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, lives in Western New York, and serves as the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Northeast Regional Chair.
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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of these micros? These micros were created out of sets of prompt words and first-sentence prompts. I’ve been putting together a collection of dog stories, and these are a part of that. I also live with four dogs!
What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of these micros?
These micros were created out of sets of prompt words and first-sentence prompts. I’ve been putting together a collection of dog stories, and these are a part of that. I also live with four dogs!
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