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Christopher Helmuth

Tulip

From the beginning I am all out in opposition against the purchase of the dog Irving because I know he will die and I have had too much of the dogs dying in my life already to this point. The dog Lucas drown in a pool. The dog Shadow stung in his ear with a bee. The dog Tiger crushed in a crumpled Corolla. On and on, always me with the crying and the empty rhinestone collar and the dog missing out of it. I am saying no way is my baby having that. I am saying no way my tulip will be knowing all the pain from the constant dying of dogs.

But of course the dog Irving is cute and small and lonely seeming and I buy him not listening to the sense of me but to the please please please of my baby with her mamaís eyes and sure enough a year later much M&M candy is fed the dog Irving and he dies.

So days are passing and there I am again, broken, thinking why must this always be, but also knowing for sure it is long past time to be talking to my tulip regarding the ending state of things. I go over to where she is viewing the cartoons and I say letís us two go outside for a while and we do. We are here sitting on the grainy concrete of the steps and I am taking the golden hair of my baby in these fingers of mine and wondering what do I say of all that is awful and true. I am thinking, she will cry. I am thinking, she will ask for another and he will also die. I am thinking, she will come to me and I will hold her close and I will let no other living things come close by.

Before I am bringing myself to speak, my baby, she slips from my arms. She hops from life to life, from inchworm to ladybug to butterfly. There she is now, in her yellow dress, kneeling on the sidewalk. Look at her. My tulip. Smiling her mamaís crinkled smile. Lopping the heads off all the ants with her tiny pink thumbnails.


Christopher Helmuth lives in Boston, where he works at Emerson College's Center for Spiritual Life.  He is a graduate of Emerson's MFA program and is currently at work on a collection.  His fiction has appeared previously in The Florida Review and Third Coast.

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