Some Days I Wish I

Could Be Frank

Siobhan Welch

It’s a wedding where I run into my ex. I’m on one of those awkward one-date-onlys with a plain girl named Brittany, and Maggie looks amazing.

 

Hi, Maggie.

Hello, Brad.

This is Brittany, since it was only polite.

Hello, Brittany, unimpressed, then: I had to put Frank down. I was going to call you.

 

I felt a pang. I pictured Frank from the old photos I used to keep: Frank under the Christmas tree, Frank playing Frisbee, Frank running though the bluebonnets, photo ops Maggie had artfully directed.

 

Oh, man. I’m sorry to hear that.

Who’s Frank? Brittany asks.

Maggie looks at me.

Our dog, I say.

My dog.

Her dog.

 

We found Frank our first year, a tiny rat-looking thing. His mama had taken off and left him and two pups under the vacant house next door. Frank was the only one that let us near him. Maggie liked to tell people Frank found us.

 

How are you taking it? I ask.

Brittany is very gently shaking her empty glass.

I don’t think it’s hit me yet. It seemed so sudden. Cancer.

Poor Frank, I say.

She agrees.

Poor Frank, says Brittany.

 

We always thought it would be sooner, all the trouble that dog got into. He would literally eat the newspaper if we left it out. Maggie always said we needed to watch it—one day he’d become smarter than us and stage a revolt. Breakfasts were spent piecing together soggy black and white bits, making up our own endings to torn headlines.

 

Everything else going okay?

Brittany shoots me a murderous look.

Busy, Maggie says. You?

Same. Busy. Really busy.

 

When Maggie couldn’t get pregnant she blamed me. If only you didn’t drink so much, she said. If only you took this seriously.

 

When that didn’t work, she blamed herself. It was too many years on the Pill. The phase of Molly in college. Her gluten-full, carnivorous diet.

 

Are you still downtown? She was being polite.

Uptown. And you are?

I moved to the East side.

 

Turns out, it was me shooting blanks. The doctor called it idiopathic oligospermia. Maggie called it the end.

 

We should mingle, Brittany says.

Yeah, I say. We should mingle.

Go mingle, Maggie says.

 

During the divorce we fought about Frank. Who would keep Frank? Who had put more time into Frank? Who did Frank like better?

 

Let Frank decide! we finally said.

 

We put Frank in the middle of the den and called to him from opposite ends: Come here, Frank! Come here, boy! Frank had looked at us, one then the other, then back again, ear cocked, confused.

 

The music starts. Brittany tugs on my sleeve.

Well, I say.

Yes, well, Maggie says.

 

Poor Frank had run back and forth between us in a frenzy —Come here, Frank! Come here, boy! Come here, sweet boy!—before curling up on the floor, spent.

 

I loved that dog, she says, a whisper.

 About the Writer
Split Lip Magazine

Siobhan Welch lives in Austin, Texas. Her writing appears in Bartleby Snopes, Switchback, The Butter, decomP, and elsewhere.