- Little Holly -

My family came home to be with her. 

After days of questioning whether or not I would wake next to another being each morning, I was finally texted an answer. 

I carried her down the veranda steps and lay her in the grass. 

She always liked lying in the warm sun. 

My mother and two sisters sat beside her. 

Sienna hadn’t seen death before, nor dry cheeks since morning. 

I pet Little Holly just metres from the hole I had half dug but knew would never use. 

Our upstairs neighbour Despina had lost her son to cancer only a month ago. 

We thought it too soon to plant another ghost in the soil she toiled. 

I told myself I’d stay stoic. 

I held back tears as I helicoptered her up to the car, wrapped in one of Sienna’s bright pink blankets 

which would never be used again. 

As we drove, mum told the girls that Little Holly would get to meet Grandpa Michael.

I wore his shoes many days of the week. 

Today, I wore his classy flat souled shoes along with a pair of socks handed to me in his passing. 

Planted in totems of a distant and almost unreal death, I held onto the frame of another death. 

This death held an emotional epicentre in the living room of our home.


Her eyes rolled back and forth in her tiny head like fruit in a picnic basket. 

She lay limp in my arms until we pulled up opposite the Office Works that 

so many of my friends had been banned for shoplifting keyboards after school. 

Her head perked up and she started wagging her tail. 

She must have thought we were going to the park, like her legs still complied. 

I climbed the steep stairs into the Bondi Veterinary Clinic where we shortly found ourselves sat on the floor of a sterile room. 


Frames hung filled with degrees and children’s paintings of domestic animals; dogs, cats, a duck for some reason. 

Nestled in her blanket, little holly licked at our fingers as she had done through all her life and mine. 

Sienna through cracking speech read to her a book, which paired cute animals with inspirational quotes. 

It sounded too much like a eulogy. It broke my shell and yolk began seeping down my lips.


 The first needle went in as I held her paws. 

She didn’t struggle. I don’t think she even noticed. 

She drifted into sleep and I wept. 

Her tongue poked out, moving about like an earthworm. 


The second needle came swiftly. 

The two nurses sat with us petting our old hound like their own. 

I appreciated their empathy and felt bad as the second nurse began to cry. 

The girls pet her one last time. I kept my hand pressed against her ribcage. 

I could feel her lungs struggle under the weight of her enlarged heart. 

I had found it funny in days prior to think that she would die from a heart too large. 

Now it made me sad. 


A sundress of blood flowed and danced from her body, into the green syringe. 

She didn’t quit slowly. 

Her organs writhed with her life and my own. My childhood and her old age. 

Then just as suddenly as opening the Christmas present that bought her into my life, she had left it. 


Her body was warm for a long time after. 

I had always thought death would be different. Especially in my hands. 

No struggle, no slow fading of warmth and movement. 

Life curled her tongue around my fingers one minute and had left the building the next.


 Mum and Sienna, the younger of my two sisters left the room after kissing her goodbye.

 Amber and I stroked her ever-shedding coat for a long while. 

We rose and cleaned the tissues off the floor, trying to stay courteous in our grief. 

We played with her tongue and laughed a bit as it still wriggled. It felt like a part of her was still alive. 

We took shifts trying to remember her face before covering it with the blanket 

and awaiting the other to uncover her head and begin the process again. 

We broke our rhythm and left the clinic. 


Walking toe to toe with Amber, in her dead grandfather’s shoes.   

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