The scraggly, brown mutt watched for me every morning as I trudged through the long-abandoned pecan orchard off to another day at Hattie’s Grill to serve up folks on their way to anywhere but here. Never got any closer than a few feet, but I knew she was there, ready to jump behind a bush or fallen tree if I turned around. Got to be kind of a game for her, I guess, and for me, too. Sometimes, I’d talk to her ‘bout how I wasn’t going to be working at Hattie’s forever, ‘bout how I had dreams like going to the coast, dipping my toes in the warm gulf waters, maybe finding me a job on one of those cruise ships and sailing ‘round the world. Evenings, I’d bring her some leftover chops or maybe a half-eaten burger. I’d set them on the ground in the same place every time, feeling her eyes on me, hearing the rustling of the leaves under her feet when she’d finally dash out of hiding. Never did fail to make me smile.
On the morning I found her gone, stiff and cold in the middle of the path, the buzzards already upon her, I can’t believe how much I cried. I cried like all my tomorrows had ended right there with that no-name dog. The birds scattered as I reached into my bag for my handkerchief , knelt down to the ground, and placed it across her eyes.
I didn’t go to Hattie’s that day. I just kept walking.
Jayne Martin’s work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, Blink Ink, a Literary Orphans , Flash Frontier, F(r)iction,and Hippocampus, among others. She is the author of “Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry.” Find her atinjaynesworld.blogspot.com and on Twitter @Jayne_Martin.