She’s not about to let anyone cramp her style. If you praise her, she’ll offer up her sweet, soft belly to kiss. If you don’t, well tough bully sticks. She’s got birds to chase, bushes to sniff, stuff to do.
It’s awhile before I notice she’s not barking at passersby, the postwoman, the garbage truck. Today, she’s all stealth and silence.
I go out to investigate, see her toying with something. Something bright red. Not a cardinal pecking seeds from the tall grasses. Not that sort of red. The sort that has a bushy gray tail attached but little else. No feet, no head. I deduce it was once a squirrel.
Jeeezizchrist, Kaida. What have you done? I shriek, as the murdering fiend chomps on the remains like a starving cheetah on a gazelle. I stomp, hurl a ball, try to pull my alpha act. She’s unimpressed. I run inside, grab a bag and paper towels, wave threateningly as I scoop up the carcass, which looks a bit like Dan’l Boone’s hat before it was cleaned up nice and proper. She side-eyes me, grabs some morsel I’ve missed, crunches it noisily and gulps it down, a touch of crimson glazing her lips.
Defeated, I carry off the forensic evidence, as if toting a broken jar of tomatoes in the grocery bag. Walking to the nearby woods, where I plan to hurl the wretched thing over the hillside and off to eternity, my mind wanders to my first day of kindergarten.
My family lived right across from the school, so when the art teacher instructed the students to paint pictures of our houses, I was radiant with six-year-old confidence. I brandished the brush, outlining the contours in bold black strokes, filling in windows, stairs, doors with blue and green, even stippling in a magnolia tree by the front porch. I waited expectantly as the teacher inspected my painting, then peered outside to where I pointed. But this looks nothing like your house, little girl! she declared, as if she’d won a contest.
Meanwhile, back at my today home, Kaida is sniffing around, licking dolefully at the scene of the sacrifice. She gives up, walks belly-heavily to a patch of sun and stretches out, not a moment wasted on the poison of disapproval, let alone a lifetime.
Kathryn Silver-Hajo writes short fiction, long fiction, and poetry. Her stories and poems appear or are forthcoming in Atticus Review, New World Writing, Flash Boulevard, Bending Genres, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Ellipsis Zine, Cleaver Magazine, Bright Flash Literary Review, Unbroken Journal, Six Sentences, The Drabble, The Ekphrastic Review and others. Read Kathryn’s work at www.kathrynsilverhajo.com and follow her: https://twitter.com/KSilverHajo and www.instagram.com/kathrynsilverhajo