A Sweet Dog Heart (Story by Risa Peris)

“I hate you and I’m sick of you.” I then snorted a line of cocaine.

“Would you stop doing that? Why do you hate me? Come one. This is Valentine’s Day.” He looked genuinely hurt. I didn’t really hate him. He wanted me to meet his son and I was a wreck. Was this relationship getting deep? I couldn’t deal with that.

I walked out of the apartment as I wrapped my scarf around me. It was New York City and two degrees. I lit a cigarette and crossed the street. I never saw the giant truck barreling down the street. I died on impact.
I woke up. My dog was staring at me like I was dinner. I gasped. Rollo had died three years ago. Cancer.

“What the hell?” I sat up and my dog wagged its tail. I was in a white room on a white bed. Rollo looked happy.
“Where am I?”

A voice came out of nowhere. Or maybe an intercom was hidden somewhere.

“Welcome, Patricia.” The voice was pleasant sounding. A man walked through a white wall and was carrying a bouquet of red roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” he said.

“Where the hell am I?” I was dazed. Rollo pawed at the chocolates. “Jesus, what’s going on?”

“You’re in love purgatory.” The woman on intercom sounded happy. “Relax and watch your loved one find happiness.”

A screen flashed before me. It was Ronnie. Aging with gray hairs. He was ten years older than me. He was sitting at a table in a fancy restaurant. A beautiful woman takes her seat next to him. They kiss. I started to feel angry. He pulls out a box from Tiffany’s. The blue was unmistakable.

“Will you be my wife,” he asks the carefully coiffed woman.

“Oh yes. Yes, Ronnie.”

“Bitch,” I yelled. “He’s mine.”

“He’s not yours,” said the woman on the intercom. “You’re dead.”

“I’m what?”

“You’re dead.” Her voice sounded chipper. I wanted to punch her.

“No, I’m not.”

“I don’t want to argue but you will spend eternity watching Ronnie be happy and live out his best life. Enjoy.”

The man walked through the wall again. “Is there anything I can get you as you watch love you squandered?”

I laid back in the bed and Rollo licked my face. “How about some cocaine?”

“Okay.” The man was uncommonly pleasant and professional.

“Really? What about heroin? Vodka?”

“Anything. You won’t feel any different though. Purgatory is about bland feelings in between feelings of deep regret. But I’m more than happy to get you anything you like.”

“Gin and tonic. Easy on the tonic.”

Rollo curled up next to me and Ronnie’s life unfolded like a beautiful origami flower. When I realized I would never have love again I started crying and the man brought tissues and assured me I would adjust to a loveless purgatory.

“Oh, Ronnie. I loved you.” But he couldn’t hear me. He was living life and loving with a beautiful woman. “I’m sorry Ronnie.” Honestly, I was sorry for myself. But at least I had Rollo back. I could feel his heat against my side. I had some love in purgatory. A sweet dog heart.


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