Exhaust - Matt Reines

I stare up at the leaves above me. The cool breeze breathes through the forest and carries my exhaled breath with it. I sit up.

“It's gonna rain,” I say looking over at Samuel, the bottle of whiskey in my hand held tight, the revolver resting on my lap. “Yep. Gonna rain. I can always tell.” I laugh. “Let's go.”

Samuel stands up and walks towards me. He rests his head on my shoulder before giving me a huge lick on my cheek, his tail wagging ferociously behind him.

Standing up, I take the last swig of the bottle before hurling it into the wooden crowd. I tug on my plaid shirt, grab the gun, and pet Samuel on the head. He tries to lick my hand.

“Good boy,” I say. He really is. We got him together, Sandra and I. It was the first thing we did together. Well, the first thing we did after we got married. The second thing we did was break each other’s hearts.

One year. That's all it took to unveil the carnival of our doubts, troubles and demons. Our illustrations of a white picket fence were crumpled up like our noses along with the dreams of conceiving anything innocent. The dreams of ever becoming a family. What was once a fortune of photo album smiles and rays of laughter were quickly dissolved into silent dinner conversations and lonely love making.

She left me.

The brisk wind causes my hair to cackle and wave like fire, causing some of the leaves I gathered to flutter off the ground. Samuel smells something familiar. Something so recognizable that he starts to whine and slowly sniffs his way to the leaf pile. He digs, claws and eventually finds her foot.

I point the revolver at the dog.

“For what it's worth Samuel, you should probably let her be.”

A deep laugh takes the taste of whiskey off of my breath. Samuel stares at me, tail wagging, but he knows I'm serious. He's seen this gun before. His eyes drift to the foot, and then back at me. Deep, he stares, almost unrecognizable. Lost and confused, like when you realize your brother's sleeping with your wife. But then his tongue flops out and he smiles.

“I could never kill you,” I say. Instead, I run my fingers down the cooling barrel, staring at it like I'm looking at an assortment of stolen memories echoing out my name. The end of the barrel kisses the bottom of my chin. My grip tightens.

“What a life.” I smile as Samuel walks towards me. “Ah, it's gonna rain boy. I can always tell.” Samuel lies down at my feet.

Will it hurt?