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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Tatters of a ruined marriage prompt a disaster of trivial proportions to unfold.

Submitted: December 07, 2011

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Submitted: December 07, 2011




The dog was poisoned. It ate the remains of a baited pig, so I guess you could say it was the farm itself that killed it. There was always baiting to keep the wild pigs from the destroying the land, but somehow no one foresaw the poison passing its destruction on to something cherished. It was such a sad dog, almost like an escaped changeling. It simply arrived, lost nearby the property one day, all those years ago. It had a perpetual limp and a naive propensity to trust in things that it shouldn’t. But that’s not the point. Sadly, the dog’s death isn’t about the dog. Its much more about two people living side-by-side, but existing in parallel realities. The man and his wife had drifted apart years ago, and it was never more evident than in the conversations they staged for visitors. Their conversations existed only in the moment and without context, so that to even a casual listener, it was obvious that these exchanges were rare. Their children had long since moved away and with no one else to distract them from one another, the dog became a kind of proxy, some last tenuous thing that they shared without resentment. It was a way of connecting with one another without surrendering anything of themselves to the despised other. Although it didn’t seem odd at first, it came to pass that they heaped their un-bestowed affection on the animal in order to avoid acknowledging the vacancy of their own relationship.


This could have gone on indefinitely- but after verbally baiting one another for years, it only seems fitting that their mutually beloved dog found more literal bait of its own. One bitter winter’s morning the wife awoke with the cheerful knowledge that the husband was away on business. She had the farm to herself and was blissfully alone. She had busied herself in the kitchen with morning trivialities when saw the usually slothful dog dashing about as though possessed. It’s arthritic limbs pumped furiously; and it’s turgid stomach whipped from side to side as though struggling to keep up. Alarmed, she dashed outside into the garden to pursue it. The usually affectionate animal tore away as she approached, leaving behind the small domestic oasis for the empty vista of the unyielding plain. The dog ran in circles now, saving her the effort of pursuit, so that all she could do was look on helplessly as it played out the final movements of its awful dance. As suddenly as it had begun, the dog stopped short and fell motionless to the dusty earth. The wife stood motionless, listening. In its wake was a noisy silence- the kind that you would think of as emptiness until you really stopped to listen. It was the rustling of leaves; the lowing of cattle; the cawing of birds, the drone of far-off machinery. It was nature’s cacophony that she heard, and it made her feel alone. The blissful solitude that she had anticipated before the husband’s trip was now horrible to her. She found herself longing for the company of the man that she detested, but she knew that had he been by her side, she would not have wanted him there.


His absence brought her to imagining how to tell him about what had happened. There would be angry words, and a silent resentment. Gripped by foolish sentimentality, she felt that the last neutral territory existing between them had been claimed out here on the unforgiving plain- as a victim of love and war. She reflexively berated herself for being fanciful; the dog was a victim of poison. But the more she thought about it, the more fitting this mundane reality became.  What she was left with was the knowledge that the dog was gone, and that for she and the husband, a mutual sense of bemusement would remain it its wake.




© Copyright 2018 Beth Grange. All rights reserved.

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