Meg Pokrass ~ Sandtrap

Too Much Heat

The dog was hot. She could see this because she felt it her­self. Even out­side of the cot­tage, hot and sticky, a guest in her body, want­i­ng to leave. Not near­ly as uncom­fort­able as the dog, with so much fur. Today there were gnats in the air, tast­ing blood in the dog’s dis­com­fort. She could imag­ine blood because she loved the dog too much and the dog wasn’t young. The man she was with did not like her dog, did not think her dog wor­thy of a white-sand beach excur­sion. “There aren’t many white beach­es around here,” he said, wip­ing sweat from his care­ful brow. Her face was the colour of blood. She had to guard her face from this man, but it kept get­ting red­der and more embar­rassed by its embar­rass­ment. “Be care­ful,” she said to the dog when he walked to the sea, just to dip his toes in, he said. “A man like this nev­er gets wet”. The dog was pant­i­ng and lay­ing on one side as if dying or dream­ing. The sun driz­zled down on the sand, and she kept touch­ing the sand with her toes. It was so hot, and she loved the pain of it, the way the tips of her toes start­ed to feel as if they were on fire.



The three of us were at the white sand beach again. And what he said, or was hint­ing at, was that there was some­thing wrong with my dog—that she wasn’t the right type, or some­thing like this. He didn’t say it out­right, about me or her, but he said it in ways of not say­ing it direct­ly. And I had, once again, been feel­ing like maybe I had met some­one great, and that we under­stood each oth­er. I liked his face, it remind­ed me of Jack Lemmon, or uncle Sydney, some­one I trust­ed. But it meant noth­ing, this dumb kind of recog­ni­tion. Anyway, the day real­ly start­ed out hap­py. I felt breath­less, and young. I woke up feel­ing good about my cot­tage, damp and dusty, but mine. I liked myself and I loved my dog, but only in the morn­ing. The dog too, looked so hope­ful that day.



The man didn’t seem excit­ed about her dog. He laughed, point­ing at it with amuse­ment. “Unusual mark­ings,” he grinned. She too smiled, as if to seem unboth­ered, blood evac­u­at­ing her cheeks. “That’s what they call a mutt,” he said, wiry hairs pok­ing out of a yel­low tank top. She couldn’t stop star­ing at the bright­ness of the man’s attire, lime-green train­ers, char­treuse sweat­band, eyes that didn’t want to land on any­thing dent­ed. “So, you always had this kind of dog?” he said. She didn’t say any­thing, just nod­ded her head, and threw him her cutest expres­sion. Here was the kind of man who could design his very own dog, she mused. He stood there like a glow­ing prob­lem, because she didn’t con­cur with his rude diag­no­sis of her dog. A cig­gie dan­gling from the slit of his mouth, and she thought it might fall on her foot. She felt itchy around this man, and sud­den­ly thirsty, as if he had sucked all of the water out of the sky.


What Wasn’t So

It didn’t take place at a dowdy dog-park or new cin­e­ma by the riv­er, it took place on a white-sand beach. He was not a nice man and he was not a smart man, he was a rich man. Her adopt­ed dog wasn’t an Irish Setter or a Labradoodle, it was a spot­ted, unknow­able dog, the result of some ran­dom dog hook-up. He didn’t say it nice­ly and he didn’t say it iron­i­cal­ly, he said it straight-for­ward­ly. She didn’t admire it and she didn’t get upset, she stood there laugh­ing as if he was fun­ny. He was not a bad per­son or a good per­son, he was a per­son who believed that what­ev­er he thought was the truth. She wasn’t the kind of woman who lived in a con­do­mini­um or the kind of woman who lived in a tree­house, she was the kind of woman who lived in a musty old cot­tage. She didn’t dis­like the rich man and she didn’t feel dis­gust­ed by him, she thought he was the kind of man who was born to stand on a white-sand beach mak­ing com­ments about imprac­ti­cal animals.



He remind­ed me of my late uncle Sydney. Of old movies and the smell of a pipe tobac­co shops. A cig­a­rette drooped from his lips. He wore a porkpie hat, very cool, very smart! There was some­thing about walk­ing next to him that made me remem­ber my child­hood. And the beach was so qui­et, and per­fect, and bright, and the dog was ecsta­t­ic to be out of the cot­tage. There were so many things about the day that were remark­able. The way he teased me about adopt­ing the dog, as if to say he under­stood me and my desire to nest. There was the sound of the sea and the shriek of seag­ulls above us, as if they were being mur­dered, or falling in love in some ter­ri­ble way.


MEG POKRASS is the author of eight prose col­lec­tions, includ­ing Spinning to Mars. She is the two-time recip­i­ent of the Blue Light Book Award . Her work has been anthol­o­gized in two Norton Anthologies of flash fic­tion: Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton 2015) and New Micro (W.W. Norton 2018) as well as The Best Small Fictions, Wigleaf Top 50, and Best Irish and British Flash Award. Meg’s work has recent­ly appeared in Electric Literature, Washington Square Review, Wigleaf, Waxwing and American Journal of Poetry. She is the Series Founder and Co-Editor of Best Microfiction.