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Harley

My dog, Harley, fell into a magazine the morning I stayed in bed too long.

He is a little red dog, part dachshund, sweet as jacaranda on a steamy southern night. Adopted from the shelter after being abandoned by some obviously stupid people, he got with the program fast, learning to go outside to do his business, wagging at friends and barking at crackheads, eager and adoring and loyal.

The morning sickness, fatigue, and backache pushed at me from all directions. Harley nudged my cheek and let out a soft, worried whine. I shoved him away for the first time ever, gave him the brush-off like a pain-addled fool. He moved away, quiet and low-headed, and jumped off the end of the bed. Violet, an alternative parenting mag I had discovered only after its post-third-issue demise, was lying on the floor, open. Editor, Charles Mingus's daughter. Cover, Juliette Binoche. My sweet Harley fell right into an interview with Billy and Joe Perry about their children and homeschooling. Homeschooling on the road. Me, moaning and pulling a daisy-splashed sheet over my head, I didn't even notice. When I finally levered myself upright, my darling red puppy love was gone.

"Harley," I called. "Harley!"

I looked under the bed, behind the desk chair, in the bathroom. I ran out, slid on the magazine, and heard a muffled "arf." There he was, in a lush photo of Billy and Joe and two of their sons on a Florida beach, my little lovey dachshund, grinning big and tugging at a wind-lofted corner of the rock star's wife's sari.

"Come back to me, Harley. Please, sweetie, I'm sorry."

My tear dropped on the page, soaked in, and became a bit of sea spray on his quivering black nose.

Copyright 2007 by Utahna Faith

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Utahna FaithUtahna writes:
"Harley" was inspired by my actual pregnancy and my dachshunds, and also by a daily exercise in the Hot Pants flash fiction workshop at Zoetrope. The exercise was to use these five words in a flash story: magazine, dog, program, brush, water. I started writing, using the words and the things around me, and realized as I went along that I wanted a touch of magical realism. I wanted a mix of the magical and the mundane, and to capture the strong emotions of affection for pets, the anticipation of pregnancy, and impending motherhood.

Utahna Faith's writing appears in The New Orleans Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Night Train, the anthology Flash Fiction Forward, and elsewhere. She is flash fiction editor for 3:AM Magazine and is editor of the print lit journal Wild Strawberries.

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