Stiff Dog by Kyle Hemmings

i’m trying to bring the stiff dog back to life. shake her, pull her ears, rub her belly. make cat sounds, even flap my arms like a bird. we’re in the center of the woods, if the woods has a center. i was never up far enough to get the complete view. all i know is there was a fluttering over the sun-dappled leaves and the dog took off and vanished like a stray bullet. there were no gunshots or yowls. no signs of a struggle, no bloody fur, no marks at all. maybe an instant death, like the kind my sister, a morphine junkie back in Des Moines, always hoped for. maybe what killed dog was a vision, as if she had been dreaming. maybe she saw into the future, the way i sometimes do at night when i’m alone and the crickets are silent as flowers. maybe she saw the way my father would die falling from a roof on a dry hot day after hammering nail after nail, landing head first. maybe she saw my mother sleepwalking into the street at 3 a.m., the way she sometimes does and being hit by a car steered by a faceless driver. maybe she saw me diving from a branch of the highest sycamore tree and into a pool of multi-colored reflections too shallow for my own good. maybe she saw this life as a small fenced-in enclosure from which there can be no escape on most days. maybe she ran so fast her heart turned weak and flabby. maybe it approached the beat of a hummingbird’s wings. maybe dog is faking her own death. if so, she’s a better actor than most of us. or maybe dog saw herself dying in the act of trying to save us from our own futures. maybe she’s still dreaming of her favorite doggy death. maybe she’ll stay dead so we can move on and forget what the future once held.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Your Impossible Voice, Night Train, Toad, Matchbox and elsewhere. His latest ebook is Father Dunne's School for Wayward Boys at amazon.com. He blogs at http://upatberggasse19.blogspot.com/

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Your Impossible Voice, Night Train, Toad, Matchbox and elsewhere. His latest ebook is Father Dunne’s School for Wayward Boys at amazon.com. He blogs at http://upatberggasse19.blogspot.com/

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