Semicolon

August 14, 2009

The dog was long on her bed, each leg of front and back set stretched to the limit. He was a cockapoo, a ghastly mix of cocker spaniel and poodle, the resulting tangle of short curls and overhanging mustache. When he was alive, she hated him. All that barking. No possibility of sneaking in through the back door when past curfew; the dog went apeshit at the faintest footstep. And the constant whining for attention, the begging for scraps, even when she had never given him so much as a corn kernel. The dog was loyal to one person, wholly and unwaveringly: her mother. If she even looked at her mother funny, she would be simultaneously hopping and grabbing at her ankles, futilely trying to shield them from the cockapoo’s dagger-sharp teeth.

But now, the dead dog was utterly still. Its eyes were closed; its ears flopped calmly down and grazed the down comforter. Normally the dog would never come into her room; now it was not only inside her room, but on her bed; not only on her bed, but dead on top of it. She had no clue how he had gotten there.

She was surprised to find that the strangest part about the situation was not the unexplained appearance of the dead canine, but the fact that she didn’t quite know what to feel. The first feeling, admittedly, was repulsion; the second, frustration (i.e., “Now I can’t take a nap on my bed,” “Now I have to wash my comforter,” “Now I have to Febreze away the smell of dog”); the third, confusion; and the fourth, happiness.

No, more than happiness, she thought. I am elated. She wondered if it was horrible to feel elated that something was alive, but now isn’t; if it was horrible that an animal’s heart was once beating, but to be so consumed with joy that it is no longer.

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