Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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Flash Fiction
429 words
SHJ Issue 14
Spring 2016

Past Life

by Lynn Mundell

Rodolfo, the poodle she was dog sitting, seemed so much like her deceased ex-husband that she was sure it was reincarnation.

The first things she noticed were the eyes, the exact shade of Milk Dud brown as Michael’s had been, and the look they gave her, half-expectant, half-fearful. Then there was Rodolfo’s habit of crowding her. He even followed her up to the shower door, where he waited, like Michael had, as though worried that if they lost contact for even a minute she’d pull quickly away, like a Band-Aid under hot water.

There were déjà vu moments of domestic contentment. She and the poodle watched home-improvement TV shows together on the corduroy sofa, just as she and Michael used to do. Rodolfo would listen to her running commentary with his woolly head bowed, another Michael-ism, once even nodding slowly as she whispered, “They may stay in that starter home she loves so much, but now the marriage is doomed.”

By the second week, while Rodolfo enthusiastically ate everything she fed him, he also seemed to be selectively tuning her out, such as when they went on walks together and she, with her hand clad in a biodegradable baggie, would angrily mutter, “Picking up your shit gets really old.”

Otherwise, their strolls were harmonious. With the poodle padding spryly by her side, she would tug on his leash so they could stop to visit with other dog-human couples they’d meet—Bitsy and Roger, Terminator and Sue, Macaroon and Rhoda.

She knew she overreacted on the last day with Rodolfo-Michael, when he humped Lovebug at the dog park. But it was a little too like the end of her marriage, when she’d come home early from work to find Michael mounting their old friend Patsy on the back lawn. The two white bodies had fit together perfectly, like her stacked wedding china, breaking apart only when they’d heard her outraged howl.

The best memory was of their last evening walk, before her neighbor returned from Mexico and took him away. They went to the town square, where they sat in the old gazebo and silently watched others, who would sometimes watch them back. He would be leaving her the next day, and she was both sad and relieved.

Over the next few years, she would see him occasionally, and they would even kiss, until one day she was stricken to learn he’d died. He, once the blessed warm body next to her at night, who had been so good at following and yet was the first to go.

SHJ Issue 14
Spring 2016

Lynn Mundell’s

work has appeared in Literary Orphans, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Counterexample Poetics, Jellyfish Review, Thrice Fiction, and elsewhere, with more forthcoming in Five Points and *82 Review. She lives in Northern California, where she co-edits 100 Word Story.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury