The dog ogles the woman as she bites into the cheese with strong, white teeth. You see how he dreams up the possibility of chewing the cheese between his own teeth, which, if he looked at the mirror ten times a day like she does, he’d know are bigger and sharper than hers.

But it wouldn’t make a difference.

He knows better than to bark, put his paw on her leg or dirty her dress, so he fetches the turtle in the living room and hurls it into the kitchen, for the young woman to bend or slip over it so that the chunk of cheese would fly out of her mouth into his. But it doesn’t happen.

She simply says, “good dog” and laughs.

The smell of the cheese is up in his nostrils, and it’s a little like her body odor, with the milk in her tits and salt in her sweat, but also like something he’ll never have.

She twists her lips at his pleading eyes.

Dogs were fenced in the backyard of the small house in the far city where order meant real order and not dog hair on the kitchen floor, a dirty diaper, a screaming baby, a husband she hardly sees. Back then and there, she imagined travels while dusting the international set of tiny dolls in folkloric costumes standing on the glass shelves in the white, black and red living room.

Even back then, the heat was constant and oppressive, working right into her kidneys, a tool of a cruel purge used by Gaia, or by Earth as people said. But she? Global warming was nothing to her. She simply drank more water and climbed higher to clean the upper shelves and the laced plaster around the ceiling, then descended to banish dirt from under the furniture, and brushed the white carpets and the black couches until they looked new, and she could rest and dream. In the backyard, the dog was always barking.

And one day, she got herself a husband, a baby, a job at the papers, an affordable house, short days, loud neighbors, dusty dolls and plenty of cheese.

It was a different dog, she thinks. It was a different woman.

Nothing ever changes, the dog knows.

Avital Gad-Cykman

Avital Gad-Cykman

Avital Gad-Cykman is author of the flash collection Life In, Life Out, published by Matter Press. Her stories are upcoming or have been published in Prairie Schooner, Ambit (UK), The Literary Review, CALYX Journal, Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s, Prism International, Michigan Quarterly Review, Wigleaf, and elsewhere.
Avital Gad-Cykman

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