The Seven Five Nothing

The Seven Five Nothing are a collection of hyper-short stories, each written in a single sitting with no editting.

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16. Had a Ball.

I don't know where it came from, it hadn't been there earlier. Or maybe I just hadn't noticed it. I wasn't disturbed as such, mostly just confused. It, the ball, was not put there by me, and when I thought about it a little more, I struggled to remember if I had even seen it before.

I was cleaning out his things. I didn't want to. I mean, you know that, right? I don't want you to think bad of me, but it was time. You just know when it's time, even if it doesn't feel okay to be messing with his things, time is time is time.

But the ball. Where had he got it from? It was a little chewed all over, and when I inspected it closer, there were little flecks of what must have been mud. I should have noticed it. After all, everything else was out the front already, in a pile, waiting to be taken away. His bed, his blanket, the old water bowl and his toys. I'd only gone back for the old leash and collar.

I looked at the pile, the remains of a life. I thought about how insignificant we think of the ones we love, and how quickly we forget them both before and after they pass. Even this, the remains of a dog's short life were about to be rendered trivial, no longer necessary. I know that you think bad of me now.

I sat on the kerb, thumbing the ball over and over, turning it in my hands as memories turned in my mind. I thought backwards, from the day my heart broke. I thought not about the him laying on the table, the vet's weight in his eyes. I thought not about how I had to stroke his ears gently, hushing him quietly, telling him it was going to be okay as I fought tear that were stinging to get through. Instead, I thought about the realisation. The realisation that he wasn't going to be okay into tomorrow. About the five-minute breakdown that caused, and how he tried to comfort me like he always did.

I thought about a week earlier, when I noticed those old legs getting weaker, and I tried to put thoughts of my fading dog far from my mind.

I thought about the whole bag of food he'd stolen from the kitchen just a few weeks ago, and how I was reminded that inside, he would always be a pup.

And then they all came back, the times we'd had. How he'd been there when I fucked up each and every date, relationship and fling. How I bound myself in the truism that as long as I had my dog by my side, all other forms of companionship were evanescent. With a dog, you had love and frustration, good times and sad, but most of all, you had unconditional connection. It was this point that I realised I was crying.

I didn't cry much, not in a typical way. Things had to be crumbling beneath my feet before I would even break a tear. But that's when I took a little stock and realised I'd cried almost everyday over this fucken dog. It'd been months, and that was why I was getting rid of all this shit - it was turning me into a black hole.

A rope that is not being pulled or twisted is just a waste of it's potential. A blanket that isn't being used to keep anybody warm is no longer doing it's job. A ball that sits resting is not free, bouncing and being chased like it should be. Without a life to animate them, objects become antiques. And what's the point living in a house full of antiques?

I rest the ball I'd never seen before on the pile of junk I'd never want to see again. It was just too painful.

It was a while before I got another dog. And sure, I know you'll think I jumped into it too soon. Maybe I did. And, yes, I worried I was forgetting him too soon, being disrespectful of his memory. But I had to move forward. And this pup was too alive to resist.

He tore up my shoes and chewed up things that should have been impervious to attack, but still, I loved having a little buddy around. He wasn't the same - they never are - but that's not the point. My old friend was gone, but I had a new one to remind me that there was motion needed from everything.
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