(Courtesy of Mythic Picnic Magazine/ 3rd Place Micro Fiction Contest Winner)

The week before I was remanded to prison, I put my dog Harlan, down. It was as if he knew I was going to be gone longer than the time he had left, and in the noblest act of sacrifice, he forced his organs to fail and left me with no choice.

My son was 8 and didn’t understand the magnitude of loss or how temporal time was. All he knew was that Harlan, his companion from birth who he referred to as his brother, was leaving and never coming back. I was about to do the same; it was neither acceptable nor forgivable.

At prison the groundhogs were as tame as puppies. You could feed them apples smuggled from the chow hall right out of your hand. I named each one of them “Harlan” and begged for forgiveness every time I gave them an apple.

The absolution never came.

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