My First Dead Dog

By Samuel Saperstein

I didn’t know what to do with one so I went for a walk in the rain. It was more a drizzle than a rain, and the sidewalk was more ice than sidewalk. At one point, I slipped, fell, broke my tailbone, and rolled onto a stranger’s snowy lawn. The stranger came out in a brown bathrobe, holding a brown tobacco pipe.

“You doing alright down there, son?” he asked.

“My dog died,” I said.

He took a puff from the pipe. The smoke dissipated into the clouds, grey as gauze.

“Lay as long as you need.”

“Thank you.”

One time, when I was nine, the dog ran at me full force and knocked me onto my back. It was the first time we’d met. He outweighed me by about five pounds at the time, though eventually I got bigger while he stayed the same. I remember feeling disoriented, lying on the grass at the public park where we’d met up with the people from the shelter. Over the following years, I did my best to mold that disorientation into love.

I tried to get up from the stranger’s lawn, but a bolt of pain shot out of my tailbone. I lay back down. It was a beautiful day for it. The clouds, the cold, all of it, really.


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Samuel Saperstein is a writer from Michigan.

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