Wanna read the latest
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102 Degrees of Love
by Julian Grant
Julian is an animator, an educator, and author of strange and unique short stories plus full-length novels/ non-fiction texts and comics. A tenured Associate Professor at Columbia College Chicago, his work is enjoyed worldwide
He lies there, belly swollen from ever-guilty handouts at my table. Although not old, he has the shopworn shabbiness of a much-loved sweater passed hand-to-hand. His muzzle, now grey, bears hard iron bristles where once only soft velvet bloomed. It is his eyes, though, that are forever young, limpid pools of chocolate that well in perfect, precise pain.
Before, he was treated rough - a young woman beat him for his toilet
mistakes; the new family with small children troubled by his
rambunctious charm; the kill-shelter he was rescued from as his last
owner looked only to profit from his snaggle-toothed smile.
Stretched on the chenille couch cover, his legs kick in sleep-jerk
staccato memory. I wonder what he remembers of his life before us, the
times before the perfect meeting of July the Fourth? It was his own true
Independence Day having waited for us and our move out from the city
where we could never truly love him properly. The hard clamor dirty
streets, marred by shrieking police sirens and too-small parks filled
with needles, were no place for such strong-willed passion. Once he
deemed us worthy, I took him alone for the first walk to test our new
friendship with one another, hoping to enjoy the company of new master
and freshly-found companion.
As day stretched ever-long, we trundled home with no recollection of
time spent, the day melting in hazed first honeysuckle memory as we
passed the milestone together.
Yet when we crossed the shaded crossroads, he stumbled, rolling onto the
patchy grass, his locomotive panting muffled in stupor, though his eyes
still shined in glazed adoration.
I carried him home that sun-blasted day, bitter tears wet on my face as
I chanted apologies, that I hadnít meant to hurt him, how sorry I was,
to keep on breathing, please, please, to keep breathing. My wife met us
at the door, icy shock rippling as my heart keened when she wrapped him
in fresh kitchen towels wetted from the sink, an eyedropper of water
teasing water out as we lay together on the tiled floor. I wept in
prayer and shame as my wife brought him back to us.
We do not speak of that first day and he has the graciousness of his kind not to remind me of my near-fatal love. As he sleeps, curled in deer-like fashion, I wonder if I too have joined that list of cruel first loves?
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