BEFORE US – Noa Sivan

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My boyfriend, Han Solo, says he’ll leave after our dog dies.
She becomes ours after four years of raising her together. Rebecca-Chewbecca, an Afghan Hound, just turned eight, and theoretically could’ve lived longer if it weren’t for her punctured lungs.
The vet — blue eyes, pointy beard like a Russian author in the twenties — explains that Rebecca’s drowning.
Han didn’t care for dogs before her, before us. Complained about the smell, the hair, the work. Getting up in the mornings, picking up poo.
Before us, he thought dog people were dog slaves, though I never spent as much time playing with Rebecca as he did. It takes practice to love someone without giving in to their every whim.
He always comes back from his smuggling journeys with a present for Rebecca. A ball, doll, dental treats. He’d say someone gave it to him for free, and I’d wash price sticker marks, cut forgotten tags, say it’s awfully nice of them.
When the vet says they can operate again, but— Han insists on new treatments he read about online. He’s a fighter, not a listener. I sit on the floor, my back to the wall.
From beneath, the white, sterile clinic seems implacable. There are jars filled with bone-shaped biscuits everywhere, and while Han begs for options, the vet offers one to the dog. She catches a whiff and turns her snout away. It’s a passive resistance to her aggressive pain.
Rebecca-Chewbecca coils under Han’s chair, hardly fits herself between its iron legs. She hates the cold aluminum surface, the gloved hands squeezing her flooded chest. The vet looks at me for a yes or no answer.
Han asks him to give us a moment, waits until we’re alone than slouches beside me. He says we can take her somewhere else. That somewhere in the galaxy there’s a place that could cure her. Right?
I stare at Rebecca, struggling with each shallow breath. My arms embrace my body, head tucked between my knees. I minimize myself into an imaginary pod that no one else has room in.
Han lifts my chin with a calloused finger, cracks one of his boyish smiles. Killer zig-zag mouth. He warned me from the beginning he’s not going to settle down. He’s Han-fucking-Solo.
Rebecca drowses off. She already knows what’s about to happen to her, to us.
The vet comes back with paperwork and a pen.
Han stays on the ground, pulls me towards Rebecca-Chewbecca. We rub her silky ears. She’s still asleep, but her long nose sniffs my crotch. We laugh. I try to remember things as they are, not as they are in my head.
We nod to the vet together. Hug our dog tight.
He injects her with three shots; the final one stops her heart. Her head drops. The vet’s shoes are white and apologetic as he lets us be.
Han can leave now, but he doesn’t move. He holds my hand.

 

 

Noa Sivan was born and raised in Israel and is currently living in Granada, Spain. She’s a graphic designer, writer and assistant editor for Cheap Pop. You can find her small fiction on Synaesthesia Magazine, Jellyfish Review, Pidgeonholes, and more. Find her on Twitter @migdalorr or on her website: www.noasivan.com

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