Out for Publication... but here's the beginning of the story...
“It’s a mutt.”
“I know.” I had found a pup earlier in the day. She was a speckled thing, probably dropped off and not a run-away. When I brought her home, mom just sighed and shook her head. We had been through this routine too many times to count, but she found a tiny collar and help me hold the pup still to put it on.
Animals were often dropped off out here in the country. I don’t know what people thought, but animals that get dropped off in the country either get shot right away, or grow up feral and then get shot. Since I found the pup before my dad did, it wasn’t shot. Yet.
“Give it to me.”
“No. I want to keep it.”
My dad’s eyes grew hard and got small. I had only told him no a handful of times and I had paid for it. I was ready to pay for it again for the wriggling bundle in my arms.
“You won’t take care of it.”
“I will. I promise.”
He stood staring at us and I could feel him wavering for the first time over me having a pet. It had been a long, hard fight for me. Years of watching kittens, puppies, and even a couple raccoon kits drowned, clubbed, strangled, and shot before my eyes. I hadn’t even named this one yet.
“How’re you going to feed it?”
“I’ll do chores and work.” My heart beat with hope.
Hope. Hope. Hope.
I squeezed the pup and it squirmed in my hands. Finding it couldn’t escape, it started licking my face. It’s tail swept back and forth a mile a minute batting me on the side.
“We don’t pay you to do chores around here. That’s just part of being a family.”
“I’ll help the neighbors.”
“One chance. No mistakes. You feed it. You water it. You lock it up when you’re working ‘cause if it gets one of the chickens, it’s gone.”
I waited. He wasn’t much of a joker, but it still seemed too good to be true and when he walked away, I just sat there still squeezing Hope. That’s what I named her, right there, right then, right in that moment.
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