The Pet – Kristen Gunther



One day in the shower the little ball of grief thawed and came loose and poured out of her
in waves, fauceting from her nose, her mouth, maybe even a little from her ears. She
tilted her head forward, bemused, and watched the thick black of it halo around the drain,
and spin, and when it was done and she wiped her face limply the darkness made a water
cyclone until it was almost as tall as she was and then formed a beast without eyes that
said, What do you want?  And the woman said, Go find others, and without waiting even
a moment the thing was out of the bathroom, leaving stepping-stone inscrutable puddles
all the way to the door, and then nothing beyond the door.

Her head was less heavy but something else in her suffered. She found herself thinking of
the beast at odd hours (putting water on to boil for pasta, returning a book to the library,
the smell of gasoline at the pump station). Sometimes it would send her text messages
that let her know who it had gotten. Butterfur dog tailtucked away, he would write. Deep-
dyed man angry over wife. Catholic school-girl no more in school ever.
And each time,
she felt her heart nearly break open with affection, and she loved these messages from the
creature so fiercely, and she grew to believe in its one-day return. But never.

She was walking back from the grocery store years after he left and thought she saw him
in an alley, and almost cried out, Dear monster, you’ve come back, but actually it was just
a splotch of indigo paint against the crumbling brick, or the billow of dress pants over the
leg of a smoking man.