Letter from a Friend
by Jace Daniel (b. 1969)
You were always such an asshole. I could tell from the moment you pulled me from my family by the skin of my neck, dangling me from your outstretched arm. Within months, my puppy hair fell out, replaced by my wiry adult coat, and you lost interest in its touch. My soft velveteen ears became stiff and strong, and you stopped rubbing them. I became too big for you to hold in your hands, and you put me down forever. You left me outside in the hot sun, with no source of shade. When I tried to tell you I was uncomfortable, you tied me to a fence with a collar pulled too tight, a muzzle clamped around my face, making it hard to breathe, denying me the ability to cool myself. You never cleaned my bowl. You never noticed the ants. The maggots. You rarely noticed when the bowl was empty, yet you always complained about my begging. You never cared when the birds took a bath in my water, leaving their worms. When the water went dry, you wouldn’t notice for days. You never took me out to see the world, to discover its mysteries, to meet others like me. You never cleaned up my shit. I ran out of places to go. You never said anything when your loud friends intentionally spilled beer on me and laughed. You never did anything when the fat guy kicked me in the ribs. You never bathed me, but you complained about my smell. You never noticed the lump that grew in my chest for months, which became two, then three, eating me inside, the pain slowly draining every ounce of life from my shell. You never did anything to take it away. To make it stop. You never cared.
And you never noticed I was gone until a week later, when the gas man found me in the back of the driveway curled up under the barbecue. You never even gave me a chance to say goodbye.
But I love you anyway.