Kaya Part 2

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The dog and I had a rocking summer. I was looking down the barrel of a senior year of college and despite the cushy liberal arts ticket that I had to ride, I didn’t let myself off easy and there was a load of work to do, so I took that as entitlement to fuck and run, twist and shout, drink and wander. The dog was, more often than not, a passenger on my right forearm, nigh 9 pounds, boarding metro busses and secreted into greasy falafel joints, neon-bloody dive bars, friends’ cars and the occasional dance club without any trouble. Mostly the dog and I lolled the first half of days around my best friend’s apartment where the dog stalked the roommate’s cat, a pair of cartoons without a musical score.


But I left her at my pop’s house if I was bound for something that struck me as irresponsible for a tiny pup to attend. My younger brother often rolled in during the tiny hours and worked through the end of his ecstasy by cuddling the dog in the climbing penumbra of day, and my father could be counted on to care for her in the evenings. There is a reel of film that I can no longer locate but the content of which is seared onto my brain, given all that came next:


Our three-legged 14 year-old lab-pit bull mix, Sky, is not pleased with the puppy’s identification of her as mother figure. Sky, though, cannot step off the carpeted runner that stripes the kitchen and living room, as the wood floor dependably kicks one of her legs out from under her and sends her into an undignified sprawl. So my puppy belly slides across the wood floor, getting as close to the Sky’s grayed, snapping pit jaw as she dares, then flipping over onto her back to bare a bright pink belly to vehemence of her elder, who can’t quite bring herself to actually disembowel the baby. Sky snarls and snaps and stumbles, drool flying inches from the vulnerable flesh of my puppy’s center, but not once does she make contact. Eventually, when she tires, the puppy gets as near as she can, propping her jaw on her tiny paws, staring with endless adoration at her rejecting mother, punctuating the depth of her feeling with sharp yips here and there.


Nineteen months later, the fishbowl has spun again. My brother lives in Barcelona, studying at some American school and plenty more in the gothic alleyways full of fiesta. I live in North Carolina with a taciturn, sassy, gorgeous Persian woman and teach and study creative writing, and my father is preparing for his first trip back to the southern hemisphere since his plummet from the Costa Rican cliff five years prior. It is no big surprise when he calls to summon his sons home to put down Sky, which we do with no lack of ritual in our living room, breaking and rebuilding together around the void of her. It is a surprise that this ceremony is the last time we see my father, as he’s felled by an errant bubble in his blood—his broken arteries the last legacy of the earlier fall—his first night in the outskirts of Quito.

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