“Marigold” has been published at Brilliant Flash Fiction Issue #24. As there is no individual story link, I’m reprinting it here.
I was not occupied enough to avoid this moment in which it came down to Marigold and I taking very slow walks and looking at the sky and saying, Mmmm no good can come of these homeless dogs.
It was summer and everyone was busy with their families or their lovers or both. Me? I was being productive at home by not being at home. Walking with Marigold, a nonagenarian, around aimlessly under drizzle clouds. I was Marigold’s sort-of helper but mainly she wanted me to walk around outside with her to protect her from unsavory animals.
This may have had something to do with having nobody in my life, causing me to relate to my new old friend, Marigold, ninety-five and hardly able to breathe without a bellows.
It was about the wheel of time, spinning and landing on someone else’s life. How each day and each night tasted wrong since Edwin left for a man named Edwin. Yes, they had the same name, same spelling. Almost funny, or very funny. Canned laughter in my mind, at this point.
Marigold, up the street, with nothing but a parakeet, Marigold would understand if she could hear well enough but she had lousy hearing so I didn’t try to explain, just told her when something was a menace to her health or safety for example when new people with dogs moved in across the street, I warned her not to go outside alone, only with pepper spray or a weapon or with me next to her.
She laughed (she had a great sense of humor) and she sometimes cackled on for minutes which felt like serious overkill, but it was as if her laugh switch had been turned on and there was no off switch.
The haystacks of postcards she got from great-grandchildren (or at least some people who claimed to be her great-grandchildren but were now grown up and living in exotic places) were piling up in her foyer. I wasn’t her cleaning person in any formal way, she didn’t pay me, but I did dust off her letters for her and I offered to read them.
Many of the postcards these relatives sent had no character. They just bought the cards to get it over with. Hell, I thought, Marigold must be loaded, and they did not want to be left out of her will when she died.
It made no sense to confess to Marigold about what I had done, but I confessed that I’d lifted her amber pin. The one in the shape of two lovebirds.
“I stole it from you, you see,” I said.
I told her that I needed it. Admitted how I just couldn’t keep pace with the world and had started to take things from the people I loved, even Marigold.
She hugged me. I could feel the hollowness of her bones. She was almost gone.
“This isn’t your fault,” she said, in an invisible, high-pitched voice that only dogs could hear. “You have always needed a rescue animal.”