By Myra King
“Cloned animals may have different spots to the original, due to varying environmental conditions in the womb.” Science Mag
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 catch on, 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 probably 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 mixing tenses 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 check for $2,000, 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 of vaguely violet hue. As my innards were squirming, I packed it off without further scrutiny.
In what seemed like a ridiculously short space of time, there she was: Tilly Mark II, with her DNA-certified certificate (not worth the paper it was written 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 of pure joy and gratitude.
But this was not to last. There seemed to be this bluish aura about her that I had not noticed the first time round in puppyhood. And she was very twitchy.
Unfortunately, in this part of the Australian bush where we live, 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, you ask? Well it has been known to burst into flames (no harm comes to it from this ― its leaves re-sprout in days) when people have brushed against it while walking past and, after scientists realized its incendiary qualities, several people who were once believed to have spontaneously combusted were found (with hindsight research) to have been within six feet of the tree. 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 Mark II can’t help it; she can’t know her running amok, as young pups are apt to do, can cause such problems.
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. Although … will it be enough?
It’s a shame, really. Her patches of purple, with filament hairs like tiny feathers, are so pretty.
*Also known as the Lucifer Tree
Among dozens of other publications, Myra King’s work has been published in Best Australian (new) Writing, Boston Literary Magazine, The Battered Suitcase, Eclectic Flash, and Short Story America. She has won the UK Global and came second in the Cambridge Fiction awards. Myra’s award winning short story collection, City Paddock, and young adults novels, The Journey Of Velvet Brown and The Diaries of Velvet Brown, have been published by Ginninderra Press.
Featured image via Klaus Hausmann, Pixabay, Public Domain CC0