Avital Gad-Cykman ~ Babies

When the par­rot went miss­ing, I put my hat on, took my father-in-law’s Peruvian cane with the carved par­rot, asked my hus­band to come home, placed his skates by the gate, and head­ed out, leav­ing the entrance door unlocked. The par­rot, Torrap, had long dis­cov­ered how to unlock the cage door with a com­bined action of nails and beak, and how to open our bed­room door, by call­ing the dog’s name (God) and say­ing, “God! Door!”

We kept the door closed because we were try­ing, but I was, secret­ly, on the pill.

God’s heavy paw weighed down on the door­knob until it sur­ren­dered to the push, and on the occa­sions it didn’t, we were already awak­ened by the noise, so we opened the door to let them in and get a lit­tle rest. Yet I couldn’t count on Torrap’s locksmith’s skills always.

Within min­utes, my hus­band mes­saged he was on his way back. Torrap was his favorite, though he would nev­er admit it. They even looked alike, except for the col­or, as my hus­band wasn’t red and green.

God accom­pa­nied me, unleashed, skip­ping with delight at the unex­pect­ed walk. A neigh­bor, who was clip­ping cher­ry toma­toes in his gar­den, asked if we were going to hunt down that par­rot of ours that always escaped.

Torrap is free,” I said, “We’re sim­ply wor­ried because the city is so dan­ger­ous.”

And the dog?” he asked.

Free,” I said.

Keep your eyes on him,” he replied.

God is a she,” I said.

I found poop on my lawn,” he com­ment­ed, his eyes already dig­ging holes in my back­side.

Come, God, come,” I called. God loved every­one, but not every­one could love dogs.

If I’d had a favorite, it would have been God, because of that end­less sweet­ness locked in a fur­ry body bound by killer instincts, but Torrap occu­pied my mind so much, I didn’t have the priv­i­lege of choos­ing one over the oth­er.

God made us in his own image,” my hus­band always joked.

Her,” I said. I noticed the resem­blance too, though not that minute.

I looked at the tree­tops, roofs, and fences, while God chased after small ani­mals. I called Torrap’s name, and lis­tened for the hun­gry meows of cats or the swift bat­ting of wings. Eventually, the whiplash of my husband’s fast skat­ing cut through the heavy breath­ing of God and myself.

Nothing?” he asked, hur­ry­ing beside us.

I’ll go back home to see if Torrap is back there.”

Okay, love you. Really.”

Torrap wasn’t at home, but two teenagers were. I inter­rupt­ed their deal­ings with my lap­top in the kitchen and chased them out with hys­ter­i­cal screams. God barked play­ful­ly, avoid­ing any oth­er type of inter­ven­tion.

Good dog,” my husband’s voice said from above.

I turned around to find Torrap swing­ing over the liv­ing room chan­de­lier, all dusty from the street but still dash­ing.

Oh God,” I said.

God wagged her tail.

I went out to look for my hus­band. The air was crys­tal clear. I felt ready to have babies.

~

Avital Gad-Cykman’s flash col­lec­tion Life In, Life Out was pub­lished by Matter Press. Her sto­ries have been pub­lished in The Literary Review, Ambit, CALYX Journal, Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s, Prism International, Michigan Quarterly Review and else­where. They have also been fea­tured in antholo­gies such as W.W. Norton’s International Flash Fiction Anthology, Sex for America, Politically Inspired Fiction, Stumbling and Raging, Politically Inspired Fiction, The Flash, and The Best of Gigantic. Her work won the Margaret Atwood Society Magazine Prize, was placed first in The Hawthorne Citation Short Story Contest, and was a final­ist for Iowa Fiction Award for sto­ry col­lec­tions twice. She lives in Brazil.