by Myra King
I should have let sleeping dogs lie. Should have let Tilly sleep the gentle death of the innocent. I blame the internet. Somehow, when I emailed all my friends about my sad loss, it seemed to understand and ‘pop ups' waving little flags covered in dog and cat paw prints kept appearing at the top of my pages. Resurrect-a-pet will have your beloved pet back by your side quick as one dog gestation period! it flashed, and just like its namesake, the site kept resurrecting itself as fast as I closed it.
In the end, just to shut it up, I opened it and then, like the site's owners had hoped, I was hooked. All they needed from me was a substantial, but isn't your beloved pet worth it? payment, and some of my pet's DNA.
For sentimental reasons, I had snipped off a bit of Tilly's beautiful fur on her death bed. She is/was a Saluki and her ear fur had/does hang around her face like a golden mane. I'm sorry to be talking like this but, as I type, she sits here perfectly still and staring. I can't say ‘Tilly' because I know it's not her, well not entirely her at any rate. At least she made me give up smoking, for that I should be grateful I guess.
Anyway, I sent away the sample of Tilly's fur and a cheque for 2,000 dollars, the other 2,000 to be paid on delivery.
A week later, I heard back from Resurrect-a-pet. The fur I'd sent was not enough, something to do with having no root follicles. Not enough DNA. I would have to exhume her and get more of what they needed.
There was no way I could do it myself; my stomach and heart were not ready for such confrontation. One of my friends did it for me in the end, making the short trip to the Pet Cemetery and returning with a plastic packet of what looked like not only hair with follicles, but also skin and something else. I packed it off without scrutiny. Now I wished I'd checked it more carefully.
In what seemed like a ridiculously short space of time, there she was: Tilly MarkII, with her DNA-certified certificate (not worth the paper it was printed on as it turned out) and looking as cute as a backpack full of baby koalas.
I'd been held in a suspended sort of grief, alternating between crying and hoping, so my initial reaction was pure joy and gratitude.
But that was not to last, there seemed to be this bluish aura about her that I had not noticed the first time round in puppy hood. And she was very twitchy.
And this is it, dear reader: in Australia grows a beautiful tree, pyranthus curlyfolii purpureus of glorious purple hue and leaves like tiny feathers. Even though it's so gorgeous, it's also highly flammable because of its eucalyptus oil, so folk are discouraged from planting it in their backyards.
How flammable? Well it has been known to burst into flames when people have brushed against it while walking past and, after scientists realised its incendiary qualities, several people who were once believed to have spontaneously combusted, have actually (with back research) been found to have been within six feet of the tree while smoking. Their last words were probably along the lines of, “Oh, what a beautiful tr...” or something of equal gush.
Apparently, the gardener at the Pet Cemetery hadn't known this, as there are several wonderful specimens of pyranthus curlyfolii purpureus adorning the grounds, weeping their feathery purple leaves over the tiny graves.
I know Tilly MarkII can't help it; she can't know her running around causes the friction which sparks off her coat, and sends it moulting with such destruction to the ground.
I have to protect her from the authorities but I feel so guilty. What if someone is killed next time? Of course I'm going to move back to the city. Away from so much bushland just waiting to be ignited.
Her spots of purple, with hairs like tiny feathers, are the problem.
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Writing prompt from Meg Pokrass' yAWP: write a story based on an animal facts
Animal fact: Cloned animals may have different spots to the original, due to varying environmental conditions in the womb.