The Puppy

I’ve been reading the recently published book “New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction”. The forward informs me that “a good micro hangs in the air of the mind like an image made of smoke,” and that it needs to be under 300 words. The following is my first attempt at this literary form. I hope that my readers enjoy it!

The eighty-year-old man’s hands trembled. He gripped his chair making his veins stand out against his aging thin skin. He turned to his wife, his eyes tearing, “They shoot a horse with a broken leg, don’t they?” he asked. She heard his question as she had heard it before, and nodded in affirmation. She watched him cast his thoughts back to his childhood.

He went back over seventy years to himself as an eight-year-old boy on a farm in South Dakota. He stood and looked north the flatness stretched seemingly unending through Canada to the north pole, or south to the Rio Grande and beyond into Mexico. East and west were the same thing from sea to shining sea even though logic told of the Black Hills three hundred miles to the west. He remembered how you knew that a vehicle was approaching on the dirt road by the cloud of dust seen above the standing corn. You heard the engine about the time that the dogs on the adjacent farm started barking, then it passed and the whole sequence occurred in reverse.

He was doing his chores and being responsible, feeding chickens, gathering eggs, slopping the pigs; while his parents worked in a distant field. He could hear their voices, mingled with the sound of a nearby yelping puppy. He found it in the dairy limping miserably on three legs. He picked it up and stroked its soft fur. As he did so he reminded himself of the sentence for a farm animal with broken leg. He fetched a pail of water and a gunny sack. Then, he knelt beside the bucket. He didn’t cry through the ordeal even as he realized that doing the right thing carries a heavy burden.

294 words

9 thoughts on “The Puppy

  1. 3rd September? Has it been that long since I stopped blogging?

    I’m a great fan of flash micro fiction.

    I loved your story. It is tough slaughtering even animals bred for food – poultry and quadrupeds. In my younger days I’ve done both and did not like it one bit. And when I killed – I stayed away from meat for several days.

    To drown a puppy? For me, now and at this stage of my life – that is murder. But those were tough and different times and I can well understand what he had to do.

    Then, we have the 80 year old – or is it his wife? Suicide? Euthanasia? Murder? The fate of the puppy caused distress. The fate that stares at this couple — that’s terrifying and so very sad.

    You packed it in tight, Jane dear. But then again, that’s the challenge and the beauty of micro fiction.

    Well done and keep ’em coming.

    • Eric, it is good to hear from you especially as, at present I am also having blogging usurped by grand-children and other pleasant responsibilities. As always, thank you for your insightful comments.
      It is odd isn’t it, that flash fiction, although condensed takes longer to write?

  2. This touches on much, Jane and you have achieved it in few words. The burden of acting responsibly. I remember those days when a dust cloud signalled a visit. Soft hugs for you. ❤ Xx

    • I was going to say that I am surprised that the dust cloud phenomena prevailed in the damp UK but then recall that you spent some of (?) your youth in Africa when this was bound to have been a regular occurrence.
      Yes, an act like the drowning of a puppy could haunt for life even when the perpetrator thought, at the time that he was doing the “right” thing.

      • Yes, I was in Africa with the dust clouds. I learned to drive at 13 in a van, down a long dirt track. Self forgiveness is a tricky thing. Hugs for you, lovely Jane xXx

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