Washing the Dog’s Blue Dish

Farely was gone. They had taken him to the vet. His tail thumped on the gurney. Then it stopped. The eyes glazed, and he was gone.

Dianne was surprised to find herself thinking about it two days later. She had not particularly liked the grubby old dog—he was Doug’s. But she stood at the kitchen sink, her hands in the warm water, thinking about the tail on the gurney and the glazed, flat eyes.

She had cleaned the house, vacuuming and dusting up the last of the hair fluffs under the couch and from the corners. She hauled the grubby bed out and draped it over the garbage can outside the kitchen door. The house smelled of cleanser and rose-mint air freshener.

Dianne looked down at her hands in the soap-filmed water. She was surprised to see that she was rubbing them together, washing them in the dirty water. She lifted them out of the water and leaned them on the sink edge. Through the window, she could see the flattened grass where the blind old dog had lain, barking at the world. He would stop barking when one of them, Doug or herself, opened the door and called him; he would stop barking, and his great yellow tail would thump against the grass.

The curled edges of a large blue plastic bowl floated in the film of the sink water. It was the last thing she had to do about the dog.

She washed it.

When she reached to set it on the breakfast plates on the drying rack, her hands were shaking. She thrust them into the warm grubby water again, but they would not stop shaking. She rubbed them together. She could not stop remembering how the tail lay still on the gurney.

It was some time before she realized that the low mournful howling that filled her kitchen was her own sobbing.

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