By Breena Clarke

I had love to lavish when my son died, you see. Bess, an obsidian-colored Labrador retriever puppy, smelling like all infant mammals, was the companion I chose. We took obedience training together. Bess always behaved well on the leash. The trainer said, “You don’t need a gun. Bess is a lab, and a lab is a staunch dog. She’ll lay down her life for you.” She did. She lunged at a crazy guy in Lincoln Park who slashed at me because he was crazy and she got stabbed, and her black coat was darker still with her blood.

Breena Clarke is the author of three novels. Her debut, River, Cross My Heart, was an October 1999 Oprah Book Club selection. Her short fiction has appeared in Kweli Journal, Stonecoast Review, Nervous Breakdown, Mom/Egg Review, and Catapult.


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