Take Your Medicine
I must have been a rotten kid.
I was maybe four years old when I was punished, first by beast, and then by the hand of man.
There wasn’t much to do at my grandparent’s house, and my brother and I jockeyed constantly for a good position in front of the bedroom mirror, one of the few toys to be had.
“The best toy is an alive toy,” I’ve always said, and living that mantra, I strode out to the living room to play with “Prissy” the Schnauzer. Prissy was treated, by most people’s standards, as a human, and by most dog’s standards, as a deity. Enthroned on a floral-print dogbed, gray beast-beard clumped with dried saliva and the savory remnants of her (or possibly his?!) previous gravy-soaked meal, Prissy grunted with contempt as I entered the room.
I went over my plan, steeling my young mind against the fears that threatened to rob me of my resolve. I held my breath and cautiously approached.
“Hi Prissy. Good dog.”
I was not acknowledged as I got closer, and I began to feel emboldened. I imagined patting my hand on a gossamer pelt, going on truffle hunts, and showing off intricate trick routines impossible without complete and utter human-beast trust and empathy. Prissy appeared asleep as I hovered nervously at the edge of the dogbed.
“Good Prissy. Nice Prissy.”
I crouched down and extended my hand, ready to take the paw of my new best friend and the solution to these incarcerations at my grandparents’ house.I began to scratch behind Prissy’s ear.
The next thing I remember was screaming and crying, blood running down my face and into my eyes. Prissy settled back into the dogbed, a crimson third ingredient mixed with the saliva and food in his (her?!) beast-beard. My grandparents rushed over to me, beside themselves.
“Prissy! Daniel, what did you do to my Prissy?”
Prissy had already gone back to sleep.
Wounds dressed, I went back to my designated room later that evening to play with the mirror. A second toy, one that I had never seen before, lay in the semi-darkness of an open closet. Thinking it a stuffed animal, I hurriedly scooped it up and brought it into the light.
My grandparents, it turned out, had one other toy in that house. This toy was modeled after their inspirations, their loves, their lives.
In 1:3 scale, Little Prissy’s black bead of an eye seemed to shimmer and whorl in my vision, and I could only stare deeper into the abyss.