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Kendra Lisum

When Tommy was six, his parents put the family dog to sleep. Tommy didn’t know what that meant until his father explained to him that Jiffy was old and he was no longer happy being alive. Tommy didn’t understand this because Jiffy had always seemed happy, especially when the family would come home after being away. Jiffy would greet them and wag his tail and sometimes even bark.


Two days after Jiffy was gone, Tommy was laying in bed thinking. His parents had already gone to sleep, and the sound machine next to his sister’s bed was cricketing softly and, Tommy knew, would soon change to the low roar of waves splashing against the shore (it was on a timer to change every fifteen minutes – “To keep my dreams interesting,” his sister explained when Tommy asked).


“Tommy,” a voice said in the darkness.


Tommy sat up and looked around. Jiffy was standing next to his bed. The old dog looked the same as Tommy remembered: cloudy eyes, gray fur noticeable in spots, and withered back legs that could no longer support the dog’s weight.


“I thought you were gone,” Tommy said.


“How can I be gone when I am standing right here?”


Tommy considered then said, “Are you having trouble sleeping? Do you want to borrow Liza’s sound machine?”


The dog shook its head.


“Where’s your collar?” Tommy asked, noticing that the tags did not jingle.


“It’s on the counter where your mom put it.”


“Oh. Are you gonna eat me?”


“No,” the old dog said. “I’m just going to take your eyes.”


“My eyes?”




“But, how will I see?”


The sound machine clicked softly and waves began to splash against an absent shore.


Jiffy said, “You can have them back when you find me.”


Tommy didn’t understand and he was starting to get scared. “Where

are you going?” 


Jiffy stared at him through cataract eyes. “To a place beyond understanding.”




Jiffy shook his head.


“Mom said the vet buried you. Will you give me my eyes back if I go to the place he put you?”


Again, Jiffy shook his head. “That is not where I will be.”


“Then where?”


“If I told you,” Jiffy said, “You would not get your eyes back.”


Tommy thought the dog looked annoyed, like Liza when Tommy wouldn’t tell her where he had hidden her baby doll.


“What if I don’t give you my eyes?” he asked.


“Then I will take them.”


Tommy glanced at his sister across the room. She was curled up against the wall, her pillow scrunched beneath her head. Ghostly birds called over the roar of the waves.


“Are you going to take Liza’s eyes too?” he asked.


“I only need one pair of eyes.”


“So if I give you mine, you won’t hurt Liza?”


Jiffy shook his head.


Tommy chewed his bottom lip. He looked once more at his sister, then at his old, dead dog.


“Okay,” he said at last.


The next morning, Tommy’s mother screamed when she saw her son’s eyes – gouged and blackened and dripping red. The ambulance came and took Tommy to the emergency room. Tommy tried to explain to his mom and the doctor that Jiffy had his eyes, that he would get them back when he found Jiffy again. But no one listened. Instead, they said things like “How could he do that to himself?” or  “He keeps talking about his dead dog,” like Tommy wasn’t even in the room. Tommy heard his mother crying and his father, who Tommy knew was there by his smell, said nothing.


Tommy was in the hospital for a long time, learning to do things without his eyes, which meant his sister Liza had to sleep in the room by herself. It scared her, not to have Tommy there, but her father assured her that she was safe, kissed her forehead, and clicked on her sound machine to a babbling brook.


The sound machine had cycled through its recordings once before Liza was startled awake by someone calling her name. She squinted into the darkness.


“Who’s there?” she whispered.


“It’s me,” said the voice. “Jiffy.”


Liza looked over the side of her bed. Jiffy stood there, looking up at her through Tommy’s eyes.


“You have Tommy’s eyes,” she said.


“Yes, and I need your legs.”


Liza curled her legs to her chest. “Why?” 


Jiffy remained silent.


“You made mom cry when she saw Tommy didn’t have eyes anymore,” Liza told the old dog.


“Tommy can have his eyes back when he finds me.”


“When will that be?”


Jiffy licked her nose. His breath smelled like the ground beef Liza’s mother had forgotten overnight in the car last summer.


“Can I have my legs back when he finds you?”


“No,” Jiffy said. “You will have to find me yourself.”


“I don’t want you to have my legs,” she said petulantly. “I need them.”


Jiffy looked at her. Tommy’s eyes didn’t quite fit, they bulged and never blinked.


The babbling brook chuckled merrily.


“Okay,” the old dog said, almost a sigh. And he lunged.


No one knew what happened to the little Dietrich girl. She vanished one night not long after her brother was found blind and bloodied. The police cordoned off the home and a search was conducted but nothing was ever found.


Upon returning home after his hospital stay, the boy Deitrich, when he did not have hands upon him or was otherwise bound, would escape through the neighborhood, hands outstretched before him, calling wildly for his dead dog. One night he was taken in a rented car to St Mary’s Asylum, and the next week his parents moved away. It wasn’t long before everyone forgot about the strange events that had taken place in their home.


If they hadn’t forgotten, however, they might have understood why, on occasion, the image of a dog with large, protruding eyes and a small girl, no older than four, would appear in the shadows, the girl watching wistfully as the dog danced about on human legs.

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