portion of artwork for Charles Lennox's story

Pups
Charles Lennox

That afternoon Charisma went into the kitchen where she began emptying the cabinets of all their bowls. She removed plastic and ceramic and stainless steel bowls of every size and design, the kind for cereal, for tossing of salad, for serving her signature garlic mashed potatoes. Hidden behind the crock pot was the decorative bowl given to her as a wedding gift, five years older and still never used. She hated the way it occupied space and dropped it politely in the trash bin and instantly the house felt cleaner, right. Something went vibrating in the adjacent room. The phone, in her purse; her husband calling, she was sure. Asking about what the doctor had said. Charisma ignored the sound and continued pulling out bowls and setting them on the kitchen counter for her to see, to manipulate. She took the largest plastic mixing bowl she had and pressed the rim to her stomach and imagined herself six months pregnant minus the fetus. She pulled her shirt over the bowl to keep it fitted in place and then wandered the house. Koa was on his pillow and she went over and touched him with her toes. The dog wagged its tail and licked her ankle but refused to get up. Who’s my good boy? Charisma thought, then repeated the question out loud. She dusted pictures not needing dusting. She changed her socks, smoked a lovely cigarette out back, peed, and propped the bed pillows against the headboard and sat comfy as she watched her soaps. “Nice baby,” she said, caressing her fake plastic stomach, the words spoken between the ringing of the house phone. Charisma shut her eyes and closed the world. She imagined the months passing. She saw her body wheelchaired into the hospital light, her husband by her side, always keeping within earshot. The time arrived for her to give birth and she pushed and pushed and pushed but out came only empty nothingness, stale air. The nurses visited her bedside afterwards. They took her mother ready hands into theirs, adoring her with their eyes, the kind of eyes young children have when they see puppies at the store trapped in glass boxes with shredded newspaper on the bottom. In their eyes was the hope of setting an animal free, but Charisma knew better. None of the puppies ever get taken home.


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