by Karen Walker
Originally published in Bright Flash Literary Flash, April 2023.
Mimi. My greyhound. I find her luxuriating on Mom’s chintz settee, where no human ever sat. Mimi probably pricked her ears at the mess, but wouldn’t have created it. She’s black and white. Clean, never wrong.
Phil, wily stripey whippet. He greets me at the front door, wagging his side of the story before I see the mud and debris, the disaster. He loves me and missed me. He’s not responsible. It was Andrew.
My big white cloud of an English setter. Andrew lies among the broken fronds, his plumed tail swishing and clinking shards of shattered pot. I point, I yell. He’s droopy-eyed. Wut?
The plant was Mom’s. A Golden Palm. During her last days, she sat beside it in the sunny front window. When I told her about needing to move home, she picked at the leaves’ yellow tips and tsk-tsked. Disappointed, I think, in the plant’s growth and mine.
The carpet was bisque. Plush. Mom raked it daily like a zen sand garden. Her vacuum marks live on in the far corners of the living room.
Pop. I find him in the basement among boxes of Mom’s Royal Doultons. Smoking his pipe. Did he not hear what was going on above? He puffs smoke rings. “No, o, o, o.”
I help him up the stairs, squeeze his hand, show him what’s happened.
Apologies. I’m so sorry about the palm and the carpet. I’ll root a piece and get a steam cleaner, rake and vacuum like Mom did. Promises. And, while we’re here, teach them better manners. Not that we’ll be here long because I’ll find a rental that allows three dogs. Pop, you were right about Josh. Mom was, too. Confessions.
Granddogs. As I call them. Pop doesn’t. He feels bad about pointing fingers, but whispers it was probably the striped one—”What’s his name again?”—that did it. “The skinny little devil never listens, just like his mother.”
Karen Walker writes in a basement in Ontario. Her work is in or forthcoming in Brink, The Viridian Door, The Hoogley Review, Overheard, Blink-Ink, and elsewhere.