if forever is twelve, on average. Not accounting
for gender, lifestyle, illness, or god-forbid accidents.
The one I have, sun-sleeping, belly-up, is seven and
a girl, She absorbs all light in photos and sleeps under
my desk, which is more empty than it is used. I count
her estimated years on one hand but I’m old enough
to be aware of our place in this world, irrational and
impermanent. There for the moment and someplace
else for the next. My dog does not know any better
than the life she has at home, quietly asking me
why I have to leave and arrive back here tired. Asking,
why is it that I could see you sad but I can’t do anything
about it. With pressed fingers against black fur, I’ll find
her roots grayed at the seams. A pea-sized tick clinging
to dead skin. I gladly string it out and she brings her nose
to the parasite. Where did it come from if I’ve never met
other dogs outside the house. I can’t answer the questions
her nose asks. I wish I was someone who knew everything,
for her sake and for my own. My dog’s tongue is out
because the summer is unbearable. So, I let the door open,
and she stands between what’s in there and what’s left out
for her. I’m old enough to be aware of our place in this world,
irrational and impermanent. There for the moment and
someplace else for the next. My dog does not know any better
than to stand there and wait for me to say hey, you can go.
Dry your paws by the door. Sleep under my desk. Belly-up against
the fan. I’ll follow. Google says the average lifespan of a labrador
retriever is twelve years, time enough to be forever. She is seven.
I let her in the house, which becomes more home than it is empty.
What will she be without me, I wonder, starﬁshed under a sun spot,
eye boogers nestled in her eyes. I wipe them away with my thumb
and she brings her paw to bat my hand away, that’ll be enough.
Mae is currently in their senior year, writing an essay collection about video games for their thesis, which they hope will work out in the end. They have work previously published by HEIGHTS Ateneo and are working to find more places for pieces to be. They are also currently playing Breath of the Wild for the first time, seven years late but figured it was about time they finished a Zelda game, and have something extra to talk about in an essay or two.