Fiction by Mary Jones: The Reason for the Surrender

By Mary Jones

We did what they said and brought her in the evening, just before closing. We put her in the backseat. She whimpered the whole way. Like she knew. At the front desk, I told the young man her name, “Mamma,” and her age, “Seventy-three,” and the reason for the surrender, “Wants too much attention.” He went to her where she was sitting. He said, “Everything will be okay.” He said, “Now don’t you worry sweet girl.” But she was worried, we could tell. Her eyes scanning ours for answers.

When my sister and I were younger we would take her with us on all our trips. She liked to look at the ocean. Could sit and watch it for hours.

We stayed until she was settled in her cage. She put her nose through the metal bars and there was the kind-eyed smile from my youth. I petted the wrinkled place between her eyes. I said, “Now you be a good girl.” But it didn’t matter. She wasn’t what you’d call “highly adoptable.” They’d put her down soon, we knew. And we left anyway.

Mary Jones’s stories and essays have appeared in Alaska Quarterly ReviewThe Hopkins ReviewThe Greensboro ReviewThe Chattahoochee ReviewSanta Monica ReviewIndiana ReviewBrevity, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a fellowship from The University of Arizona Poetry Center. Her work has been cited as notable in The Best American Essays, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Born and raised in upstate New York, she lives in Los Angeles where she teaches fiction writing at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.

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