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The Puppy Adoption
When I first noticed the woman in red, I thought she must have been wearing a costume. She leaned over into the small cage of puppies selecting the tiny runt with the lopsided ears huddled in the rear. The woman’s clothing looked more appropriate for an evening at the opera than for adoption day at PetSmart. She turned around with the tiny puppy clinging to her chest, its nails piercing the delicate satin of her bodice. The red gown extended all the way to the floor, gathering in a pool at her feet. As she walked toward me, her bare feet peeked tentatively from the folds of fabric.
She cradled the brown speckled puppy like a baby in her arms. The spaghetti straps of the dress fell from her dirt-smudged shoulders as she rocked the animal back and forth. It seemed comfortable there, leaning its head back to lick her arm. The closer the woman came to my table, the more I could see the grime that seeped from her pores—her oily brown hair, stained cheeks, worn and black fingernails. I couldn’t figure out how she came to be wearing such a dress. A matching evening bag dangled from her filthy wrist.
The woman stood before me holding the puppy, looking at me expectantly. Words caught in my throat and I said nothing. We stared at each other for a moment before the woman said, “Sara.”
I smiled. I began, hesitantly, feeling around the table for the adoption form, unable to take my eyes off her. “Is that your name?” I asked.
But the woman shook her head. She cuddled the puppy close to her face and kissed the top of its head. “Sara,” she repeated.