Tag Archives: pet

Fiction: The Neighbor’s Pet

Viola stood on her back porch and watched her children play on the swing set. She turned her head to the left and looked into Mr. Frappingham’s yard. There, as always, was Rufus. The heavy log chain kept him securely fastened to his house.

Rufus was straining at the end of the chain and doing his best to watch the children play; he could mostly see around an oak tree. Frappingham had given his permission for the kids to visit Rufus occasionally, but the animal needed more attention than he was getting.

Frappingham himself probably did, too, but Viola considered that his problem. The old man could take care of himself; Rufus relied on the kindness and care of humans.

“Bobby!”

“What, Mom?”

“Get the leash from the closet and go ask Mr. Frappingham if you and Teresa can take Rufus to the park.”

“Okay!” The children ran past her to get the long leash. Soon, they were pounding on Mr. Frappingham’s back door.

“Oh, yes, I’m sure Rufus would enjoy that,” he said. “Go right ahead.” He looked over and waved cheerily at Viola. She waved back, but only to keep the neglectful old fart in a friendly frame of mind.

Bobby hooked the leash to Rufus’s collar and then unhooked the big chain. Rufus began to dance around the children and he almost took flight as they walked the two blocks to the park.

Viola remained outside until she did see Rufus sailing happily over the trees and doing the occasional loop.

She went inside, muttering to herself. “If you’re not going to take proper care of a dragon, you just shouldn’t get one.”

Fiction: Replacements

“A squid! A squid!” the children screamed.

“That’s right,” their father said happily. “Your very own squid. Go ahead and jump in the pool with him. Have fun!”

The three youngsters squealed their delight. They peeled off their clothing and jumped into the swimming pool to play with their new pet. Soon the squid was wrapping them in its long tentacles and swirling them around in the deeper end of the pool.

“Martin! A squid?” Alice asked.

“He’s a genetically altered 10-footer,” her husband said. “Just the right size for the pool and the kids.”

“But what if he harms the children?”

“There’s a 96-percent safety rate with this model. At least that’s what the salesman said. And even if something goes wrong, that’s what the backups are for.”

Alice couldn’t argue with that, and together they enjoyed the wonderful family moment, watching their three children – Annie, 12; Ron, 9; and Ben, 6 – splashing around with their new friend.

Alice’s concerns were eventually borne out, though, and Ben was heartbroken when his parents had some people come and take away Neptune the Squid.

“But he never killed me!” Ben sobbed. “Just Annie and Ron, and they were mean to him. He loves me!”

Alice rubbed her younger son’s back. “I know, honey, and Daddy and I are very sorry. But activating the backup clones of your brother and sister – and having new backups prepared – was awfully expensive, even with insurance. We can’t afford to keep doing that. But we’ll get you another pet. A walrus, or maybe a seal. Something the geneticists have really perfected.”

Needless to say, nothing can truly take the place of a beloved squid in a boy’s heart.

Fiction: In Sure and Certain Hope

Seven-year-old Macey Yager tiptoed through the darkened house before dawn’s first light. She painstakingly unlocked and opened the kitchen door – the one farthest from her parents’ bedroom – and ever so carefully closed it again. She walked quickly and silently down the path away from the house and barnyard and toward the road.

Once there, she ran. She took nothing with her but her memories and her hope.

*

At the beginning of the summer, Macey’s dad, Ken, came home one day with an energetic bundle of fur, a one-year-old border collie.

“He looks like a panda,” Macey said, and Panda became the dog’s name. Ken built a doghouse and put it under a tree near the house and Macey and Panda played every day from sunup to sundown.

She gave Panda his breakfast and supper every day and sat with him while he ate. She threw a ball for him to fetch. She used him as a pillow and looked at the clouds and talked to him about everything.

*

Everything was fine until school started, she thought, walking around a road-kill possum.

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