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F IC T IO N

“We talked to Lucky the way our parents talked to us, in a whispery falsetto that was meant to sound friendlier than our regular voices, but often sounded like someone was punching us under the chin.”

“It’s not his fault,” I said. It was my fault for laughing, and Ella’s fault for making me laugh, and Pastor John’s fault for not replacing the fence around the playground even though the chain link looked like something from an old prison, and after that I stopped because Mary Elizabeth blinked. “I know. I’m just kidding, Grace. Just kidding, see?” She let go of the tongue, and Lucky used it to lick her ears and her neck and the palms of her hands, which were the same size as mine but a prettier color, shell pink. Simon says everyone lie flat on the ground, and you can’t get up unless I tell you. “Well,” I said to our secret dog. “There’s a good boy. Good boy good boy good boy Lucky.” Lucky never really learned his name, just the sound of Mary Elizabeth saying the two syllables, or any two syllables with the right inflection. Sometimes when she said Ella, El-la, crisp and phonetic, Lucky’s tail would twitch optimistically, and we’d smile at him, anyways, for trying so hard. Grace didn’t faze him at all. It made the same dull thudding sound as sit and stay and shake, none of which meant anything to him. We thought this was strange. We thought these were things dogs knew. “Sit, Lucky.” 
He stood panting, with that dense, wet look in his eyes like if you stare into a mud puddle after the rain. “Sit.” Mary Elizabeth put her hand on his butt and gentled it to the ground. “Stay.” She crawled backwards on the balls of her feet, to keep her skirt from dragging in the grass, and he stood up and walked towards her, which was sometimes considered obedience and sometimes not. He didn’t know the difference. “Lucky, no,” I corrected him. “Stay means stay.” Mary Elizabeth said, without looking at me, “Don’t be mean, Grace.” Then she brought her face very close to Lucky’s, so that you could see the whiskers on his nose flinch at her breath, so that he couldn’t focus his far-apart eyes on her face, and whispered something that sounded a lot like a prayer, but wasn’t. It was almost ventriloquism, her lips barely moving. Sometimes I think he understood her. But then it didn’t really matter if he understood, as long as he listened. I told Ella not to say that she saw a Lost Dog flyer with Lucky’s picture on it. It was stapled to a telephone pole at the stoplight behind First Covenant, and the picture was printed in black and white, she said anyways. Lucky was sitting on a scrubby suede basement couch with his mouth open and his ears drooping off the sides of his head like folded wings. The flyer called him Rover. Answers to Rover. If found, please call. “I like ‘Lucky’ better,” I said, which was the wrong thing to say, but at least it was quiet. Mary Elizabeth moved her ears. I don’t know if she meant to, but they shrank back and tightened her whole scalp, and her headband just barely slacked in that annoying way elastic headbands do, at the slightest change in tension. “You’re not funny, Ella.” There was still time for her to say I know, I’m just kidding, see? But she said, “No joke, I saw it.” Lucky was on Mary Elizabeth’s lap. She was sitting cross-legged, and he was

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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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