TWO SMALL DOGS by Meredith K. Gray

The latest Slush Pile fiction at Dig Boston:

ONE DECEMBER SUNDAY, just two weeks before Christmas, Rose and Mark came home to discover Gretl alone in the yard, surrounded by trails of sticky black hair and a tangle of grayish, gnawed up bones. Hans’s rat-like skull, the eyes picked clean, poked out from under a deck chair on the far side of the patio. When they had left on Friday there were two small dogs. Now, there was just one. The first small dog—the dead one, Hans—had not loved Gretl, the other small dog. Gretl had loved him. It was simple and well-meaning, but misplaced, dog love.  It was, at times, frightening, in both its scope and intensity. In the end, understanding this love and its powers, or its needs, would become something important for Rose to consider.

At the time, however, what she thought was: Fuck.

This scene that greeted her as she slid open the back door of the lovely, New Haven home that she and Mark shared was jarring, an upside-down mixture of what should and should not belong. Gretl, always spritely and prancing upon the tips of her clickity toenails, danced in greeting. Behind her, strewn across the lip of the patio and into the crusty remnants of last week’s snow was Hans detritus, the long femur bones and narrow, cracked ribs. A flap of pink, inside-out skin was fuzzed with frost. FUCK, Rose thought this time. In all caps. After she’d called to him and explained her hypothesis, Mark stood in the middle of the yard, scanning for additional pieces of Hans. “Are you sure it’s him?” he asked at first, dazed, his hand stuck to the back of his head and buried in this thin, sandy-gray hair. “Could it be a cat?” (read more)