The dog stands in the front yard, his white fur turning red and yellow in the August sun. He moved into the house last month. In our one conversation, he’d explained he was the first member of his family to own a home. It is a nice house with a circular driveway. The grass has been cut away from the bay windows to clear dirt for flowers he hasn’t planted yet. I walk past his house every day but I have not attempted to talk with him after that initial conversation. Pride of ownership has gone to his head. He stands in the middle of the driveway and looks up and down Fairmont Street. He is prouder than Christmas decorations. All in all, he is the most confusing dog I’ve ever met. His desire for self-improvement is out of control. It’s been this way since dogs grew tired of hiding their skills. Now they use them openly and their time is our time. The present is gone for them too.
John Riley has published poetry and fiction in Smokelong Quarterly, Connotation Press, Fiction Daily, The Molotov Cocktail, Dead Mule, St. Anne’s Review, Better Than Starbucks, and numerous other anthologies and journals both online and in print. He lives in Greensboro, NC, where he works in educational publishing.