Arctic Blue / Flash Fiction
A flash fiction piece from my upcoming book ‘In the hours of Darkness – writings about death and dying.’
I feed you a handful of pancakes and kiss the white, silky top of your head, while you carefully munch. The pancakes are soft, they have to be, and you make so little noise. I remember our first kiss, between the wires of the cage you were in at the adoption centre. You were still small enough to fit into one hand. I remember the family next to us looking at me with faces as though they had the taste of raw sewage in their mouths. I felt sorry for the puppy they had lifted out for them and put into a cardboard box.
I remember the first stain on the bathroom floor. I remember your face and the way you wrapped your loosely curled tail around your entire little body, like you thought it could make you invisible. I remember deciding it wasn’t right to press your nose into it. I remember you never doing it again and waiting at the door each time instead.
You’ve been so quiet these past few months. It’s been strange slowing down our morning and evening workouts. I can’t tie you to my waist anymore. There will be no more sledding in winter. The ducks know they are safe. It’s as if other dogs know that you’re ill because when we pass, they don’t bark and look down. Their owners nearly always shrug.
You didn’t like the ex. You didn’t like the smell of his skin or the way he’d tug at your collar to pull you out of the kitchen when we were cooking. You didn’t like the way he’d leave me crying more times than smiling. You never growled, not once, but you stood your ground when his voice went over what’s acceptable. You perked up when he left, even more when I stuffed his left over clothes into a bin liner and tied it at the top. You walked with me to put it in the garbage outside.
I remember promising you that we would move to Alaska. That your double thick coat would come into good use. I’m sorry that we never did. When you didn’t want to sleep in winter, I would tell you stories. I told you about the husky sled team that saved Nome in Alaska, by delivering life saving medicines. I told you I would take you there one day.
You had a wolf howl. The first time I heard it I was ten miles away. It was the first time I had left you alone. It scared the neighbours. They thought a wolf had escaped from the zoo. But it made me feel proud that I was your pack.
As the needle finds the vein, I hold your face. Your arctic blue eyes are calm, as though you have already experienced relief. The vet has tears on his eyelashes. He said before, on the phone, that it would be hard to put you down. I think hear your heart briefly, before you fall asleep.