by Lisa L. Weber
It was a sweltering summer day and I was picking at the parched grass of the front lawn when one of the neighborhood boys rode up on his bike and told me about a dead dog in the dirt lot a block away from my house. I had never seen a dead dog before. I had seen a dead person. But that was my grandfather lying in his casket, fixed up to look like he was just sleeping.
The boy said the dog was covered in maggots and I was curious about things like that.
I jumped on my pink bicycle and a streamer fell from one of the handlebars as I pedaled away. I was down to two on that side.
I smelled the dog before I saw it. The odor crawled into my nostrils, infested every nook and cranny in my nose, much like the cockroaches in our pantry. It didn't matter how clean we kept the house, the roaches always found a way in. And just like the roaches, the smell was difficult to get rid of. It haunted me for days afterward.
After gagging a few times, I regained control of my reflexes and focused my attention on the dog. Its body looked like a slowly deflating balloon that had floated under a barber's chair. It's marble grey eyes were forever fixed on nothing, and it's mouth was frozen in a snarl, the yellow teeth still threatening to bite. A writhing mass of maggots occupied the space where the dog's bowels had once been. I watched as the insects wiggled their way over and under each other, some falling into the dust.
I stood there until I became dizzy with focus and heat, my eyes vibrating. I jumped back on my bike and rode home. When I got there, I threw my bike down on the grass next to the flower bed that turned into a flower cemetery after Daddy moved out. For a moment I thought about how everything dies. Grandpas die. Dogs die. Flowers die. Even love dies. Then I went inside. It was too hot to think.
Lisa L. Weber has a mind that can't sit still, and sometimes wanders in darkness. Her work has appeared online at Anti-Heroin Chic, The Ginger Collect, Memoir Mixtapes, Rag Queen Periodical, Burning House Press, and Rabid Oak. Follow her on Twitter @LisaLermaWeber
Image by Patrick Feller, found on Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/8hDTNe