THEY DO not want to have a baby. At least, she is pretty sure she doesn’t want a baby, but she might someday, although he is pretty sure that he will never want one. He suggests a dog. She doesn’t like dogs, but thinks it might be a decent compromise, something small and warm and breathing, excited by her presence, and so she agrees. He suggests a husky, but she hates their abundant energy, their faces always appearing with furrowed brows, permanent frowns, like owls. She counters with a pug, but he vetoes it, musing rhetorically, who would want a wheezing, bug-eyed wrinkly pig as a pet? A German Shepherd is his next choice, but she recalls being repeatedly chased by a neighbor’s when she was ten – too many bad memories. She asks if maybe their apartment is too cramped for a large breed, that maybe they should consider a small dog; they don’t even have a yard. He declares that he will not have a yippy, drop-kickable dog. Cats make their way to the discussion, and she reminds him – a bit more sternly than she intended – that she’s allergic to cats. She counters with a bunny, noting how quiet they are, their ability to be litter-trained, their soft ears. He considers for a moment, hand on chin, and shakes his head: the smell. He suggests a fish tank: low maintenance, quiet, no trips to the vet. She pauses. I’m negotiable on that, and nods a bit. They come home with a ten-gallon glass box, a plastic fern and three speckled goldfish inside. When he’s not home, she sneaks her hand into the water, hoping they’ll brush against her fingers – she can’t think of how else to show them affection – but they shimmy away, unable to remember her, alien every time.
Lisa Mangini holds an MFA from Southern Connecticut State University. She is the founding editor of
Paper Nautilus, and teaches creative writing and English composition across Connecticut. She is
the author of a full-length poetry collection and three chapbooks, all forthcoming throughout
2014. For more information, check out: https://lisamangini.wordpress.com/.