She came home as ash. In a black tin etched with red roses. A lock of hair, a patch of fur. A paw print pressed in clay.

Here was our Zelda, parts packaged in a gift bag. It did not capture her smile, with the missing front teeth. Or the way she would bound across a room and push you over, Elaine Benes-style, all 12 pounds of her taking an in-place running start. It was a lovely sentiment but it lacked something essential—the story of her. The story of us.

***

Zelda was my post-divorce dog, my single-woman dog. She was on my bucket list, along with other things my ex wasn’t interested in, like owning a home. I bought a house and lived in it alone for four months before I brought her into it, fit in the palm of my hand. She screeched the whole ride, and then she threw up, and then she fell asleep. She would never like the car when it was moving, but she would always insist on going…

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