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was my mother’s name and a fruit of the Spirit. I conceded after Mary Elizabeth said it would be heresy to name a dog from the Bible because dogs didn’t know how to pray, or sing hymns, or do anything Christian. Ella didn’t want to name him at all. Ella was sometimes not very fun, but we forgave her. We worked out that Lucky must have got into the playground through a weakness in the fence, which was already more weak than strong, its joints black with rust like dried blood in the corner of a mouth, so we decided to let him come and go as he pleased. Not that we could have done much else. Sunday school only happened once a week, and we only ever spent the last fifteen or twenty minutes outside. Plus there was Mary Elizabeth’s secret, which limited us to quiet, self-conscious play in the shadow of a tree grown over the fence. It is still hard to believe that no one asked us what we were doing. We were careful, but we were children. Mary Elizabeth’s voice carried like a radio signal. She was always the caller in Red Light, Green Light and Mother May I and Simon Says. Simon says stand on your head. Simon says everyone lie flat on the ground, and you can’t get up unless I tell you. The game would go on forever because nobody could bring themselves to disobey her. Nobody wanted to. We lay in the grass for so long that our cheeks turned rare pink in the sun, and we had to wait for the color to peel off in dry, itching petals like the skin of an onion. But if anyone figured out about Lucky, they must not have cared. Mrs. Lyall didn’t. She sat in her camp chair by the door and supervised the playground with documentarian objectivity, the way nature photographers look at the wild savanna with awe or disgust, depending on what they see, but with no intention to intervene, either way. The other kids were satisfied to take our jump ropes and appoint a new Simon and leave the three of us to ourselves. So we did what we wanted. We talked to Lucky the way our parents talked to us, in a whispery falsetto that was meant to sound friendlier and more playful than our regular voices but more often sounded like someone was pinching us under the chin. Good boy good boy good boy Lucky, the faster the more he wagged his tail. We rubbed the silk of his ears between our fingers and petted his warm, floury belly until his eyes crossed and his tongue lolled gratefully out of his mouth. It reminded me of cherry taffy, the kind you buy at the beach, so smooth and grainless I wondered how he tasted anything. I poked it with the end of my finger just to see what would happen. “Watch, Ella.” I poked and poked, and his tongue just hung there funnily like he couldn’t even feel it. Ella giggled and tickled his nose with a blade of grass to make him blink. He sneezed with a little whistle. “Cut it out,” said Mary Elizabeth. We heard her, but not really because we were still caught up in the alienness of Lucky’s tongue and the humanness of his sneeze and the curious noises of our own laughter, Ella’s high in her nose and mine half-swallowed, sort of coughing. Ella trailed the grass blade across Lucky’s forehead, where his eyebrows would have been, if he had any, and he squinted his face in such naive perplexity you almost thought he had to be doing it on purpose. We laughed harder. “Cut it out,” said Mary Elizabeth. In her hand was Lucky’s tongue, pinched like a scrap of red ribbon between the scissors of her two fingers. She held it loosely because she chose to, but not because she had to, not because we were stopping her from anything. “You’re being loud,” she said. Hush-hush. Every dog in the world would have struggled, whined, wrenched its head sideways, but Lucky did not move. He peed in a weak orange stream that dripped off his back legs, and that was all.

Profile for Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art

Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art — Vol 93  

The Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art is an annual student publication at Anderson University in Anderson, SC. The journal has served a...

Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art — Vol 93  

The Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art is an annual student publication at Anderson University in Anderson, SC. The journal has served a...

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