Since our French Bulldog, Jean-Paul, passed away, I attend Pet-Loss Support meetings. My husband refuses to join me—that's alright. Some of them are entertaining, so I don’t mind going alone.
Last meeting, a man handed me a picture of his daughter's dead Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. He smiled at me in a secret kind of way.
"We called her ‘Fluff.’”
I almost smiled back. I could not imagine caring about a cockroach, even an exotic one. But human nature is strange, and one must guard the heart.
Lately, I find my eyes landing on the faces of a few male mourners, amazed by their nobility.
A woman with curly hair and an inexplicable yellow umbrella-hat stands up and sighs. She explains that her late rabbit was a confidante stronger than her father.
"Yes!" an attractive middle-aged man shouts.
I had a less-than-sympathetic father once. I wanted to shout “yes!” also.
Another symptom of emotional pain; removing my wedding ring before meetings, burying it in the pocket of my gym bag.
Jean-Paul died of old age, but looked so young. The day he died he could have passed for a puppy.
I tell my husband about how helpful the meetings are.
"Absolute bullshit!” he snips. This from a man who never swore before our dog died. Now he’s angered easily about so many things. Mourning a beloved pet can do this to regular people, quietly. They may lose a sense of scale—and sometimes, a sense of decency.
I’ll never bring home another pet. It would kill us.
First published in Miracle Monocle.
Meg Pokrass is the author of four collections and one award winning book of prose poetry. Her books include Damn Sure Right (Press 53, 2011) My Very End of the Universe— Five Mini-Novellas-in-Flash and a Study of the Form (Rose Metal Press, 2014), Bird Envy (2014), Cellulose Pajamas (Blue Light Book Award winner, 2016)) and The Dog Looks Happy Upside Down (Etruscan Press, 2016). Her stories and poems have appeared and are forthcoming in over 250 literary magazines including Five Points, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Gigantic, Great Jones Street, Matchbook, Newfound, New World Writing, Bayou, Rattle, 100-Word Story, Wigleaf, Green Mountains Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Talking Writing, Every Writer’s Resource, The Rumpus, Failbetter, storySouth, decomP, Flash Magazine, and two Norton anthologies: New Microfiction (W.W. Norton, 2018) and Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton, 2015). Showcased by Adweek and Galleycat/Media Bistro as “Digital Author to Watch”, sheis considered an innovator in the use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms for writers. Meg serves as an international writing competition judge, Fiction Curator for the innovative Great Jones Street App, and Festival Curator for the new The Bath Flash Fiction Festival.