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the animals i saw, no. 1

(Short fiction in shorter increments.)

The Animals I Saw: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10

It was the time of year when the animals took over, though they were no trouble until later. I noticed the stray cats first. Carrying a tarp from Melch's truck down the path by the lake, I saw a tabby sunning on the steps of the Petersons' front porch. It was not theirs. When I stopped to look at it, I noticed another -- fat and black, with a white belly -- in the shadow of the juniper shrubs. Climbing the ladder in the back of the Johnsons', I saw still a third -- a mangy calico -- sleeping under a chair on the deck next door.

The lake caught the afternoon sunlight, reflecting it with less intensity than just weeks previous, as if to finally collect some for itself. Save a dinghy bobbing at a distant dock, the water was devoid of boats. The quiet of the town in the off-season had shocked me at first.

During my first night in the Beckett house -- Melch had given me the keys -- I pulled the sheet from the upright piano. Depressing the sustain pedal, I tentatively played a chord. It spread through the house like an intruder. In bed, I could still hear it decaying, a vague hum now imprinted in the floorboards. I would have to leave a note apologizing, I thought. Unable to sleep, I sat at their kitchen table and ate stale saltines they'd left in the cupboard, trying to work up the nerve to enter the house that was rightfully mine.


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interesting use of the "lake" .....

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