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Colby-Sawyer Courier

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This new literary magazine features creative writing in many genres by current students and alumni, faculty and staff, and a few friends and partners.


Find out what Colby-Sawyer alumni have been up to since graduation.

Currents: animal people

Colby-Sawyer College students in Writing 105 last fall participated in a contest for the best examples of research papers and essays completed for this class. The contest, sponsored jointly by the Wesson Honors and Liberal Education Programs, offers prizes of $125, $100 and $75. Three winners were selected (by Writing 105 faculty and Currents staff). In this issue of Currents, we feature one of the winning pieces, an essay by first-year student Nicole Morin.

Dog Fur

By Nicole Morin '11

No matter how many times I swept those floors I could never get all the dog fur up. It always just billowed away from the broom and found some corner to rest in. Being the perfectionist I am, I always tried. Not many people would have lasted this long as a kennel attendant. One gets sick of cleaning up vomit, urine and fur after a few weeks, especially at just $6.25 an hour.

But this wasn't just a summer job for me. This was one small step on my path of becoming a veterinarian. I just keep reminding myself that if I can get through this I can get into vet school, no problem.

I was gliding the dry mop down the hallway, making my way down to cat boarding to do the nighttime feeding. There were only four of us here today, two techs, a receptionist and me. It was a Sunday, slow, and to my disappointment, not a lot of emergencies. Everyone was in ICU, holding a cat down while Jamie, one of the technicians, splinted its broken leg. I walked by the doorway to the receptionist's desk. There was a woman standing at the counter.

She was tapping her nails on the pastel pink counter top. She looked annoyed, and that annoyed me. She was an older woman although she didn't dress like one. She wore a pair of trendy stone-washed jeans and a colorful blazer that was two sizes to small. The buttons puckered at her breast.

Her bleached blonde hair was twisted to the back of her head and pinned with a black hair clip. I wondered what kind of dog she had, probably one of those little, yappy rats on a rope I hated so much. She was probably one of those women who carried her poor dog around in her designer purse. Pathetic. She could wait, I thought, but as soon as she saw me in the doorway she barked, “Is there someone here to help me?”

I'm not going to deny the fact that I was rude to her. “Yup,” I said, slamming the broom to the floor. I took over holding “Tigger” for Sandy, the receptionist. She went out front to help the yappy dog lady.

A few moments later Sandy was tapping me on the shoulder, her eyes glazed over like two tiny mirrors. I watched my distorted reflection in her thick red-rimmed glasses, “Will you help me get something from the freezer? I'm afraid of the freezer.”

I didn't really think about what she had said. I just answered, “Sure.”

I led the way downstairs, racking my brain. We didn't get things out of the freezer; we just put things in it. The freezer is where we store the dead bodies until the cremator comes to get them. Sandy stopped me at the bottom of the stairs.

“The woman out front was Martha," she said. "She used to work here. Her bulldog passed away very suddenly yesterday. She brought his body down here to store in the freezer while her husband dug a grave for him. It's illegal but she's a special client. She's still very upset. She and Henry were close.”

I tried to respond but my brain was numb. I was officially heartless.

Sandy opened the chain link gate to the kennel arousing about 12 dogs into territorial mode. They all barked at once but I'm so used to it, it didn't faze me. I almost like it now.

She opened the door to the stockroom where the freezer was kept and flicked on the light. I stood next to the oblong icebox like some idiot. Sandy opened the side door. There in the winter mist stood the yappy dog lady. She stepped inside a few feet. She looked pale.

I opened the lid of the freezer resting it against the cement wall. I was confronted with a sea of Hawaiian blue cadaver bags, each sporting a bright yellow I.D. tag. I don't know why someone decided to make such a rotten thing such lively colors. All I know is that before I started working here, blue was my favorite color.

The yappy dog lady, who wasn't the yappy dog lady after all, came over. She wouldn't get too close though. She just pointed and said weakly, “I think it's that one.” I looked for an I.D tag, there wasn't one. We couldn't give her the body until we were sure it was the right one. The yappy dog lady's eyes started to look like mirrors.

Sandy turned to her, “Martha, why don't you wait outside. We can do this. A tear streamed down Martha's cheek zigzagging through her wrinkles. I heard her go outside and open the back hatch of her SUV, a Chevy Blazer just like mine, only black.

Sandy and I gently lifted the bag from its icy tomb and placed it on a blanket. Sandy cut the tie with shaky hands. Henry's face was frosted with tiny ice particles, like old ice cream. I wasn't sure if he was in rigor mortis or just frozen. Either way it was unnerving. His eyes were closed. I wondered if he had closed them on his own, anticipating his death, or if Martha had closed them when she found him lifeless on her kitchen floor.

We re-wrapped Henry and carried him to Martha's truck, each holding two corners of the blanket like the solemn bearers of a fallen soldier. There was a Jack Russell Terrier in her back seat. It jumped up and down on the seat trying to get a peek at the somber event.

As soon as we got the body rested in the trunk the terrier stopped jumping and just whined, cocking his head from side to side. It was like it finally realized its friend wasn't coming back. I closed the hatch, but I didn't slam it. Sandy hugged Martha and whispered something. I wanted to comfort her too, but I didn't know how.

Martha got in the driver's seat. She just sat there for moment, her right hand resting on the center console, her left massaging her forehead. The little Jack Russell's jumped to the front seat and began licking her palm. I heard her say, “Thank you Jordan.” She scratched his head, started the truck, and drove off.

Somehow I ended up in the kennel. I don't remember walking back in. Everything felt blue. I regained some of my composure and tried to go about my day, like nothing had happened, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. Why is it that we can sense when it's going to rain yet we can't sense someone's emotions or intentions? Why are we so judgmental?

Bode had spilled his water. I opened the gate to his run and reached for the stainless steel bowl. Bode's tail thumped against the gate pushing it shut. I heard the latch clank down. It was possible to open it from the inside, just difficult, but I was too drained to even bother.

I slumped down in the corner of the run in a pile of fur-covered blankets. The cold cement wall pressed against my back. I felt like death. Bode lay down beside me resting his head on my lap. He licked my palms and I felt instant love for this golden retriever. He knew something was wrong and he knew exactly what I needed.

Sometimes I wish I had four legs and fur.

Nicole Morin is from Belmont, N.H., and plans to study biology and going on to veterinary school. She has been horseback riding for 10 years and spend the majority of her free time outdoors, hiking, camping and kayaking.