B looked down and saw his childhood dog curled by the blue chair. He hadn’t seen the dog in many years. Across the room a small child picked up a fireplace poker and dropped it. The child did this again. Then again. And so on, revelling in the clanging each time, his hands now blacked in ashes and soot. The dog looked similarly blacked, though more soot than ash. B did not stir.
Man’s best friend said B.
I am said the dog.
The dog sniffed at the ash in the air, nosed toward the child and asked B who’s the kid?
Best friends pick up right where they left off don’t they said B.
We do said the dog. Who’s the kid?
Where did he come from?
He came from me.
So did I said the dog.
B continued to not stir. The child continued to clang the fireplace poker. Across the room a bell rang. B stood up and walked to the kitchen and opened the oven and looked in. The dog sniffed at the air and followed. He curled up next to the warm oven and looked at B.
The dog said can I have some?
B said yes as he removed the roasting pan from the oven. But it has to rest first. B reset the timer and sat at the kitchen table.
The dog said what do you mean R came from you.
It is what happens. It is what happened. Now we are here.
I am also here.
I know. It’s good that you came.
Why did you leave me?
I left everything. Now I am here.
You are here with a roasted beef, an ashen child, and a phantasm. This all came from you didn’t it.
No I am here. This is my life now.
Then you didn’t leave me.
I see you.
You only see instants. You remember me. An instant after you first saw me I was a memory. Now I am a memory. Still. I have not changed.
I see you now.
You remember me now as you did then. Have you changed?
B looked toward the child by the fireplace. The child had stopped clanging. He had found an apple. He inspected the apple then brought it with him as he crawled over to the warm oven. The dog was no longer there. R sat where the dog had been and crunched at the apple.
You didn’t give me this apple said R.
Where is the dog said B.
There is no dog.
Wasn’t there a dog asked B.
Now there is no dog said R.
B looked toward the blue chair and beside it was a skein of grey yarn and a pair of black leather shoes. B walked to the chair and lay his hand on the centre of the seat. The chair was warm. B looked toward the kitchen. On the cutting board was a pumpkin pie.
What about the beef roast said B.
There has always been pie said R.
How old are you?
One. Aren’t I?
Then I am.
You came from me said B. You came from me he repeated.
Then I am you said R.
Stop eating the apple.
R continued to eat the apple. When he reached the core he rolled the remains toward the blue chair. The dog crawled from under the chair and took the core. He gnawed it.
I couldn’t make you stop said B. You can’t be me.
If you cannot stop yourself then I can be you said R. Can you stop?
B sat in the blue chair and reached down to the dog. The dog looked at B. B said come up. R returned to the fireplace and resumed clanging the poker. The dog jumped into B’s lap and curled up and dozed as the roast and pie rested. When the bell rang again they would all three eat as kings.