Coming Back to Bite You
Puppy- Round 1
Darcy’s father has a no pets policy. He says parents always get pets for children and then get stuck taking care of them when the kids lose interest. ‘Your Gran had two Boston Terriers when I was a little boy and I ended cleaning up all their mess,’ he says. Darcy points out the illogic of this reasoning and is sent to her room.
Nicknamed the ‘American Gentleman’ for their tuxedo good looks, the Boston Terrier makes a lively family pet. Developed in the 1800s, all puppies can trace their lineage to the original male, named ‘Judge’.
Even though Goldie has multicolored pebbles and a deep-sea diver in her tank, she seems bored most of time, staring at Darcy and mouthing, ‘I hate it here.’ Darcy puts water into her mother’s cut-glass anniversary bowl and brings Goldie outside for a look-see. Sunshine fills the water with rainbows. Later, in her room Darcy puts a pillow onto her desk chair so she can sit down to do her homework. Goldie mouths from the tank, ‘I hate it here.’
Goldfish excrete more waste than other species of pet fish and require a surprisingly large area to swim. A single goldfish should never be in an aquarium with less than 20 gallons of water.
Puppy – Round 2
Darcy gets a red leather collar and leash in her Christmas stocking. She unwraps a big box and finds a Fox Terrier inside. He has glass eyes and red plastic wheels attached to his feet. Her mother wants a photograph and carries the dog to the sidewalk. Darcy hopes no one sees her posing with the dog that will never make a mess. She puts the dog in her closet, covers him with an old baby blanket. When her mother finds him in February, Darcy’s father folds his arms and says, ‘See?’
Fox Terriers are a scrappy breed, always ready for a fight. As a result, they must be kept on a leash when outdoors. Its peppery personality makes it unsuitable for confined quarters or unsupervised interaction with children.
Darcy and her parents are going away for the weekend. Her mother says Goldie will be fine without food for two days. At the last minute, Darcy sprinkles half of the fish food container into the tank. When they come home, Goldie is floating on the surface. Darcy doesn’t bother to put a pillow on the desk chair that night. She stands next to the dry tank and mouths to the deep-sea diver, ‘I hate it here.’
Goldfish don’t have real stomachs and so can quickly develop problems if they eat too much food at one time.
Puppy – Round 3
Darcy’s father comes to visit. He says the flight is long and uncomfortable; her two children are rowdy and need manners. Ginger, the Labradoodle, settles at his feet. When it is time for him to leave, Darcy’s father tells Ginger he will miss her ‘something awful’. Darcy hopes this is true.
Marie Gethins’ work has won/placed in the Dorset Fiction Award, The Short Story, Tethered by Letters, Flash500, Dromineer, The New Writer, and Prick of the Spindle. Listed in The London Magazine, Australian Book Review, Bath, Bristol, Brighton competitions, and others. A Pushcart, Best of the Short Fictions, British Screenwriters Award Nominee, she lives in Cork and received her MSt in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford.
also by Marie Gethins
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