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Dixie

A Short Story
By: Michael M Jones

Shes about 500 feet down. Should be straight down.
Thats all I heard my boorish father utter as I was slowly let down the narrow well. Id be lying if I said I
wasnt feeling claustrophobic with not even half an arms length around me and only the light from my
helmet shining directly in front of me, exposing the century old brick.
In my head, on repeat, was my father reminding me, these are hard times, boy. Hard times I tell ya. Just
like that dust bowl, ya know. This was actually nothing like that dust bowl.
As my boots touched base on the wet and mushy bottom, the vile aroma rushed up my nostrils and
immediately began teasing my senses. Never had I smelt an odor so putrid. An amalgamation of
dizzyingly rotten aromas blended together to create one of indescribable misery that left me desperately
gasping for clear air.
She should be right under your feet, boy! my father squawked out of his nearly toothless yap trap. When
I noticed nothing underneath me I began walking in the only direction I could; my fathers voice, only a blip
in the distance now. What was once an ample source of fresh water was now a lthy, disease infested
nightmare; and I was trudging through it, searching for my dead dog.
One year ago today, Dixie and I would be running through never-ending wheat elds and relaxing in the
shade underneath monumental trees; anything to take in the open air. I was always unaware of what the
time was until I saw the sun pass the horizon line. When the blue in the sky darkened, I knew to head
back home. My eyes were wide and my mind was ripe. Everything was as interesting and new as it would
ever be. I was perfectly ignorant to the notion of what a worry may be.
Then, there she was. Her name was Dixie. How she didnt die on impact I would later characterize as a
miracle. Ive often thought of what went through her mind after she hit bottom; if anything. There was only
one direction for her to walk, and she stood back up and walked probably ten more steps before nally
collapsing.
Its still unknown how exactly Dixie fell down that old well. Shed been running around it for years, and
understood not to jump into it. My father was never fond of Dixie. He hated her the second she showed
up in our backyard. She was skinny and sick; I had to take her in. Luckily, my mothers word served over
my fathers on that day. I was always the one who found the money to buy Dixies food. Other than that,
she ate whatever she could nd outside. I can still remember the heartbreaking sound of Dixies
whimpering whenever my father would smack her off of his chair.
Holding Dixies limp, lifeless body while being pulled back up to the surface felt almost articial as a 12-
year-old boy. It felt like I was somebody else entirely. In that moment, Id lost all innocence. Im not sure if
I was a different person prior to that day, but I was surely more cheerful. The image haunted me for years
to come, along with every other dirty job my father assigned to me after I became a man at 12.
That was the age I nally got my hands dirty, he used to say to me whenever I complained; I eventually
learned not to. Any work I did that didnt get my hands dirty wasnt real work in his eyes. My writing, and
my sketches were wasted efforts to him.
My fathers inability to express any fostering emotion toward Dixie was unforgettable to me. The way he
just took hold of the sad, dead dog and threw her into a garbage bag was an indelible sight. As we walked
back to the house, my father thoroughly explained to me why crying was exclusively for women. I was
confused as to how I was even related to him, and as I got older and grew into a man, he started seeming
more like a boy to me. I was not him, and I would never be him. I had grown out of boyhood, and he had
remained stagnant in plaintiveness.

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