Hettie

by David Lea

Highly Commended in the Bare Fiction Prize for Flash Fiction 2015

I was never that keen on sex. I mean, it was all right, but the earth never moved for me, really. I mean I didn’t actually dislike it. Most of the time. It’s just that I used to find myself wandering off in the middle – I’d start thinking about something else: whether I had put dishwasher tablets on the shopping list, or when the car tax was due, or what to do with mother. Mind you, I don’t think Michael would have noticed that my mind wasn’t altogether on the job. Not in the past few years anyway.

Anyway, I didn’t mind it — sex, that is — until what happened to the dog. She was called Hettie and she was a cocker spaniel. Jet black. I’d had her three years before it happened and she kind of made sense of the days: she had to be fed and she had to have her walks – two a day at least, sometimes three. Gave me a reason to get out, even if it was raining. Michael has never been much of a walker and, well, a middle-aged woman out walking on her own in the countryside… you’re asking for trouble.

We were in the fields behind the pumping station and Hettie was running on ahead, very excited by all the smells. Spring, it was, and the sky was that bright, pure blue, and the light bounced and shimmered off the grass. There were three horses in the field and they were galloping about after each other like they could feel the spring too. One, the biggest — brown, or “bay” I found out later — stopped chasing after the others and looked at us. Well, not at us – at Hettie. She was snuffling around in the grass about ten yards in front of me. And then this horse started a kind of slow trot towards us, blowing through its nose. It didn’t gallop; it was deliberate: it had made up its mind what it was going to do. Then it reared up and brought its front hooves down on her. One hit her head and she kind of gave a giant twitch, as though she had been electrocuted and rolled over. She didn’t make a sound. The horse carried on rearing up and crashing down on her as though it wanted to make sure she was dead.  When it had finished, it backed off, looking me in the eye as though deciding whether come at me too. His penis swung below his belly like a thick length of hosepipe, mottled pink and brown, glistening, excited.

I carried her home and by the time I got back I was covered in blood. Michael tried as best he could: he called the police, the vet and the doctor. But, obviously, there was nothing to be done.

Michael and I have separate rooms now. We don’t have sex any more. He doesn’t seem to mind.

I didn’t get another dog.

 

David Lea

Hettie was Highly Commended in the Bare Fiction Prize for Flash Fiction 2015, as chosen by Richard Skinner.