Jenny the Wolf

It’s sweaty today, but I hate the taste of well water so I jump in the pool down the hill to cool off. Paul’s drilling for soccer practice again, he gets three or four concussions a season, Mom doesn’t even take him to the doctor anymore, just props up his bulbous head. Kick. Thwap. Kick. Thwap. Kick. Thwap. The ball smacks into the side of the garage, frazzling the bees. Paul’s allergic.

I’m dark tan, barefooted and dirty, my sun blonde hair’s tinged green. Dad says when it’s summer all you need is a swim in the pool, don’t waste water for a shower he says. I’m playing in the dirt, or something or other. Kick. Thwap. Kick. Thwap. Kick. Thwap. There’s a swing set and a trampoline, but I’m playing in the dirt with a stick, I think maybe ants are involved.

Our dog has a normal girl name. Jenny. A husky wolf mix should really be named Aztec or Phoenix or Onyx or…a better name than stupid old Jenny. No one’s impressed by a wolf named Jenny, it’s a name for a mouse or a ferret. Jenny the wolf was sharp and gentle and small, we’ve only had her a year, maybe less. Kick. Thwap. Kick. Thwap. Kick. Thwap. She’s a bit of a poof, ash fur frizzed straight out, and free—cos when she goes exploring she doesn’t have to come back. But she does.

The house used to be white, but it doesn’t get to shower much either. Down the little hill in front is Route 104 and Roosevelt Hwy, the street namers couldn’t make up their mind, I guess. I ride my bike on the asphalt cos it’s smoother than the yard, and I can close my eyes and fly a bit. There’s skidding and a thwap bigger than my brother’s kicking could make.

Jenny? Paul and I scramble out front and there’s a truck, and a man with his hand on his head and Jenny a puffy little lump, and I think the man says something like I’m sorry and don’t look but my ears aren’t working. I don’t look to cross the street, just run across the pavement and drop down next to Jenny.

She’s broken and twitching and bleeding out of everywhere: her eyes, her nose, her mouth, her torn up little legs. I swear to God she’s crying, and her bloodied eyes are looking straight into mine while she’s dying, and I want to pet her til she feels better but I don’t have magic hands so I just let them hover over the bits I can’t fix.

The man’s asking are your parents home? What can I do? but no one’s here to tell, they don’t have phones and they can’t help us. She’s pooling up in the street now, just like if he’d shot her in the head, and I can’t stop staring at lump Jenny. Paul helps the man lift her into his truck and they take her away from me, take her to the vet twenty minutes away, take her away and leave me.

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