K9-Responsible by Gabrielle McAree
“My sister buys a French bulldog on Craigslist with the support of her bank-manager boyfriend. He says the dog can pee on his carpet if she replaces it before they move out. He lives in a 4th-floor walk-up, and his landlord is a real trust-fund fuck who wears Crocs professionally. They’re not sure if he owns other shoes or not. My sister buys Crocs in solitude: If he can wear Crocs professionally, why can’t I? She puts little charm ornaments on them too—a winking smiley face, Thor’s hammer, a paw print, a bundle of grapes. When she asks me to join the Crocs Mafia, I tell her that I’m not interested. I don’t negotiate with shoe terrorists; rubber with eraser-sized holes isn’t suitable footwear; plus, I’ve given up fads after the whole Snuggie phenomenon. I once paid $15.99 for a selfie stick. It broke after one use, and when I wrote the company, they just sent me another selfie stick. Pissed. I sold it on Ebay as ‘vintage.’ Slap ‘vintage’ in front of anything and it goes quick. Like hotcakes. Or Yeezys.
I don’t offer to help with the dog because my sister wished me dead as I traveled across the Atlantic last year. I hope the plane crashes and you die, she said. I could count the veins bulging out of her neck. Six, maybe seven. She looked like a defunct tree trunk. The whole flight over I kept waiting for the airplane to fall out of the sky. It didn’t. When the plane landed, I ate an entire baguette and drank two bottles of red wine with my seat buddy, Sicilia. She had huge boobs and a sailor’s mouth. She was on holiday from her three kids, two dogs, and sex-crazed husband. We listened to a middle-aged indie band play the same four chords and people watched until her husband made it to the front of Arrivals. She offered me a ride, but I said no because I’d recently watched that Liam Nelson movie, Taken, where the girl gets sold into prostitution for ridesharing. Everyone at the airport felt like Lego-people, lost and plastic and in need of somebody to direct them to some place. I felt happy to be among my people. The kind of happy that is only possible with alcohol. If I wasn’t drunk and jetlagged and in need of a shower, I would have stayed there all day, watching, in hopes that some old rich man took pity on me and bought me something nice, like a watch or a rib-eye steak, maybe a new life. I was a student so I couldn’t afford nice things, like taste. McDonald’s coffee was five stars because it had to be five stars. Anyway, in Europe, when people asked me if I had any siblings, I said I had a cannibal sister. Everyone laughed because I was kidding, obviously, but I wondered if I actually was.
My sister has lost her cellphone 11 times. She’s on a first name basis with the fraternity bros at T-Mobile. They all want to sleep with her because she rebelled against capitalism in the form of burning her bras and growing out her leg hair. Their frat bro attention makes her feel young and important, which is all a woman could hope for anyway. She said this once while drunk on Titos and 7-Up. Last week, she blacked out at a bar and had to get 13 stitches to close the hole in her face. Our uncle’s doctor friend stitched her up like Frankenstein’s bride. I won’t tell your uncle, he said with this pedophile wink. My sister threw up all over his patent leather dress shoes. I laughed because she mastered the art of throwing up on command years ago.
When I got back from Europe, my sister took me into our shared childhood bedroom and apologized for wishing me dead. Our room felt like a museum, a shrine to extinct people who once worshipped bubblegum pink and 3/5 of the band *NSYNC. My dad said my sister was taking a meditation course in college, which is why she was acting like The Giving Tree. She handed me a pair of purple Crocs with a Grinch ornament on the left one. I thanked her and put them up on Ebay that night. I sold them for twice the market value because of the Grinch charm. Apparently, it was sold out everywhere.
My mom makes a week’s worth of grilled cheese and tells me to microwave them whenever I’m hungry. She thinks I’ll stay only until I land a job somewhere, but I have no intention of leaving until something or someone takes me abroad again. It feels stupid, putting down roots in a place I have no interest in staying. I can’t help with the French bulldog if I’m in Progue or Tokyo or Barcelona. The grilled cheese tastes ok if you pretend it isn’t grilled cheese. But I like my sister’s boyfriend. He wants to talk about Dublin’s castles and why the weather sucks and what I thought of the weed in Amsterdam, the artwork in Paris, the pasta in Italy. Everyone in my family wears Crocs now. The boyfriend included. They even have a pair for the dog. If I ever meet my sister’s boyfriend’s landlord, I’ll probably punch him in the face.
Tomorrow, my sister will become K-9 responsible. It’s a bad idea because she takes Vodka shots at work and doesn’t believe in vitamins or vegetables or government issued mandates. She thinks butter is a carb because Tina Fey told her so. She’s naming the dog ‘Franny’ after our dead grandmother, but my sister didn’t cry at the funeral. She swears she did, but she didn’t.
When the pet carrier drops off her Craigslist French bulldog, my sister screams. It’s a cat.
Anyway, how are you?”
Gabrielle McAree (she/her) is from Fishers, IN. Her work appears in X-R-A-Y, Berkeley Fiction Review, Reflex Press, Reckon Review, Versification, and elsewhere. She's on Twitter @gmcaree_.