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The Short Form

“Pet”

Deb Olin Unferth

Excerpt

Somehow they have wound up with these two turtles. The woman says she saved them. Her son says all she did is move them from one place to another–from the basement of her sister’s house to their apartment (also a basement)–and the turtles’ lives are no better than they had been before, and her own life is significantly worse, since now she has to take care of them.

Well, the woman and her son will take care of them together.

Not him. He’s not the one who took them. He doesn’t even know why she did it–making off with somebody’s pets? That’s weird.

Those turtles would have died down there in the dark, like all the other pets in her sister’s life. It was a philanthropic moment, taking them. It’s called philanthropy. Does he even know what that is. She wonders.

We read it in The Pushcart Prize XXXV: Best of the Small Presses.

Originally published in Noon: 2009.