Creative Nonfiction by Rae Theodore
Mom found this little mutt in the street with tan and white fur that stuck out this way and that Ziggy Stardust all lightning bolts who we called Max. Mom swore Max was her old beagle Peaches reincarnated as if god didn’t have more important things to do than take the soul of one dog dead twenty years and plant that soul inside the body of another dog amen and leave that new-old dog where Mom would find him and bring him home and make him one of the family. After that it was always Mom, Dad, Michael and me and last but not least Max even in those Olan Mills photos we took every few years all of us dressed in our best brown and orange polyester with Mom holding Max like baby Jesus. So it was a big deal when Mom called Michael and me at college and said they were putting Max down because now there would be an empty space in the family pictures and also because a part of us thought Max would live forever despite the fact that we had been finding his teeth scattered around the house like ancient runes for years. The whole ordeal was especially hard for Mom who left Max’s bowls out no food no water only two pairs of cupped hands perhaps thinking another new-old dog would appear ta-dah which of course never happened. I wish I could say when we came home Michael and I were gentle good son good daughter instead of pointing to the bowls and saying he’s not coming back. Mom gave us her super sad look all soft eyes and quivering lip and snapped out a line about her children being hard hearted and too selfish to care about pain they didn’t wear. In the end we set out on a secret mission to get a new Max and undo our sin because we were young with no real losses under our belts and thought you filled a void by plugging something into the hole.