48 Dogs by Tania Hershman
In the yard were dogs. All she saw. When her husband came home from the lab she said:
“Look. Forty-eight dogs. Count them. Go on. Count them.”
He said: “I see a tree. I see the grass. I don’t…”
“Dogs,” she said. “Forty eight. Not fifty. There, and there, and there,” and she pointed, with one hand and then the other, to all forty eight, to the terriers and the collie, the German shepherd and the poodles. Her husband gently took her arms and turned her so that the garden, clear and quiet, was behind her.
“Tea,” he said, seating her on the sofa.
She fiddled on the sofa arm, dug her fingers down into the cushion gaps and found a furled up twist of paper. She untwisted it and read: “Take heart, dearest. Your luck will change.” She smiled at that and did take heart. The dogs, she knew, would all find homes, all forty-eight, some in pairs, some singly. The terriers and the collie, the German shepherd and the poodles.
When he came back with the tea, her husband sighed to see her softer now. He added milk and spooned in sugar and as he leant towards her with her cup, from the corner of his eye he caught the garden, shifting slightly. And in that one blink he saw it. A tail, wagging.
A former science journalist, Tania Hershman’s first book, The White Road and Other Stories, was commended by the judges of the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers, and included in New Scientist’s Best Books of 2008. Tania’s second collection, My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions, will be published in May 2012 by Tangent Books. She is currently writer-in-residence in Bristol University’s Science Faculty, working on a collection of biology-inspired short fiction. http://www.taniahershman.com
© 2012, Metazen.