Contributor: Jeremy Levine

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Jeb was puttering along, sitting atop his tractor, its rattling vibrations shaking his gritted teeth. He turned his head skyward, observing a hawk glide across the cloudless sky in effortless circles. While his gaze was distracted, there was a crashing and a clunking, a rumbling under his vehicle.


Jeb tuned off the tractor and jumped down from it, stumbling as he landed on the soft earth. He spotted a flash of red on the brown dirt by the front tire. He rushed forward and knelt down. Sheriff was there, crushed under the wheel, stone dead.

“Ma! I need you!”

Jeb pivoted in his squat, his eye on his home. After a few seconds, Jebʼs wife, Henrietta, was out in the field, her apron billowing in the dusty wind.

“Whatcha need, honey?”

“The dog, Ma, the dog!” Jeb said, a shaking finger pointing at the deceased

“Oh Lord in heaven, did you do that?”

“I know Ma, itʼs bad. Itʼs bad. I need you to break it to Betsy. Sheʼs a-gonna be home any minute.”

“Why me?”

“”Cuz Iʼmma run across to the Bakers. They just had a litter.”

“So this puppy that youʼre gonna steal was supposedly Sheriffʼs?”

“I donʼt know, Ma, I guess.”

“And Iʼm supposed to tell her that you hit Sheriff with a tractor?”


“Then what do I tell her?”

“Make something up,” he said, walking away towards the Baker home.

“Right,” Henrietta grumbled to herself, her head spinning with semi-believable explanatory fictions. “Just leave me to deal with this one.”

There was a mechanical roaring behind her as the school bus kicked up a storm of dust out in the street. The muted pounding of the small, excited footsteps of a Friday afternoon were getting closer.

Henrietta left the field timidly in response to Betsyʼs two note whistle.

“Sheriff!” she called.

Clap. Clap.


“Hi, honey,” Henrietta said, unhitching their squeaky picket gate and kneeling
down to give Betsy a hug.

“Hi Ma! Whereʼs Sheriff?”

“Honey, come on inside, thereʼs something I want to tell you.”

“Ma, whereʼs Sheriff?”

Henrietta opened the aluminum front door, ushering Betsy inside.

“Here, you want some cider?”

The kitchen was a dimly lit room with wooden tables and countertops. Squeaky clean dishes were arranged neatly cabinets with glass windows. Henrietta reached over the barometer for a ladle and began scooping helpings of apple cider into a a pair of glasses. Betsy plopped into a wobbly kitchen chair.

“Honey, I need to tell you something.”

Henrietta placed the two glasses on the faded green tablecloth and sat opposite her daughter.

“Betsy, you know that puppies donʼt always make it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, when a puppy is born, it might get sick and die, which is a really sad thing.”

“Uh huh.”

“Well, the good news is that Sheriff had a baby puppy, and we kept him a secret from you just in case he didnʼt make it.”

“Because I would be sad?”


“But now heʼs gonna be fine?”


“Yay!” Betsy jumped out of her seat and was dancing around the kitchen. “Now me and Sheriff and... and... and... Deputy! Thatʼs his name! Deputy! Me and Sheriff and Deputy can run around and play together and have so much fun!”

Henrietta got up and wrung her hands, reaching out to Betsy.

“Well, Betsy, actually, thereʼs something else that I have to tell you. You see--”

But Betsy was having none of it, gallivanting around the kitchen, rambling. “We can play fetch and weʼll train Deputy. Sheriff can help because Sheriff is already trained. I wonder if we have enough food. Ma, can we go get some more food? I donʼt want them to get hungry when we have so much to do.”

Henrietta stood up and walked to Betsy, gingerly placing a hand on her shoulder.

“Betsy, you see, there was a problem. We were keeping Deputy at the Bakerʼs house for a few days while we made sure he was healthy. When they were on their way here, a wolf came.”

“A wolf?”

“Yes. You know theyʼve been around the area lately. Sheriff got in front of Deputy, to protect him. The wolf attacked and Sheriff kept him off long enough for Deputy to run away back to the Bakers, but Sheriff didnʼt make it. Iʼm sorry, Betsy.”

“What do you mean, didnʼt make it?”

“The wolf, uh, got him.”

“Is he dead?”


Betsyʼs lip quivered. Henrietta got up and walked the length of the table, half-
squatting to rub her daughterʼs back. “Shhh, Betsy, itʼs okay to cry. She died doing a good thing, protecting her baby. Thatʼs what a mama always wants to do. And now I donʼt want to see my baby all sad. Come here.”

Betsy buried her head in Henrietta's breast, sobbing into her apron. “Shh, shh, itʼs
okay, itʼs okay.”

The storm door banged open and a clawed scurrying was heard on the wooden floor. Deputy rocketed around the house, crashing into cabinets and walls.

“Hello ladies,” Jeb said, “I brought your puppy home.”

Betsy peeked through a gap between her motherʼs arm and her body to watch the dog bounce around the home. She smiled. Henrietta loosened her hug and Betsy jumped down from her chair and scampered off with the puppy. It jumped up and licked her face.

Henrietta got up and stood alongside her husband.

“How much did the want for the dog?”

“They had too many. There were just giving em away.”

The parents watched their daughter for a content moment, grateful that she
daughter had found another friend.

“I should probably move the tractor.”

“Yeah, probably.”

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Jeremy Levine is a sophomore at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he is the Editor-In-Chief of the student newspaper, The Scarlet. He is originally from Long Island, New York.
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