The dog yelped against the dash as the car screeched to a stop.
Her hand flew to her painted lips parted in a quivering “o”.
The animal whimpered weakly, its mangled back legs shaking at twisted angles.
“We have to help it!” She clambered from the car, falling to her knees and reaching out to stroke the creature’s matted fur.
The driver’s door opened, cigarette smoke curling from the man’s lips like thick white ink.
She flinched as his booted foot landed near her hand; he tapped the cigarette, its ash lifted by the night air and taken away.
He nudged the dog’s injured leg and it yelped a high pitched cry that hurt her ears.
“It’s already dead. Can’t do nothin’ without them back legs.”
The dog pressed its wet nose to the palm of her hand, its dark eyes watering with pained tears.
“I want to bring him to the house. Let him die fireside with the leftovers in the back.” She scratched behind his ear. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Its wet tongue licked her wrist, rough and warm.
Suddenly, a shattering pop echoed in the dark and the dog’s head fell against its shadow in the glow of the headlights.
She stared blankly into the empty eyes.
“It was as good as dead. Get up before you stain that dress.”
She lifted herself from the pavement, yellow fabric dotted with crimson swishing at her calves.
“Get in the car. I need a drink.”
She nodded, folding her hands over the stain so he wouldn’t shout and pull the gun from its holster.
The car rolled slowly around her mangled body, leaving her and the dog on the pavement, though she sat in the passenger’s seat, hands folded in her lap.
Natalie Kai Ansley is a senior in high school. She hopes to study photography and journalism in the future. Natalie enjoys travel and spontaneous road trips. She currently lives in Georgia with her mother, father, and two siblings.