A HEART LIKE JASPER’S • by Alison Cooper

His big heart will be the death of him, but that doesn’t bother Jasper. He’s far too busy living life, and too in love with life to care. So when strangers on our street see him coming, they turn to smile and stop awhile.

This small black dog is the herald of joy, more like a bat than the wolf he came from; a ratted ball of fluff bouncing at the end of the leash that fails to restrain him, and I wonder what will fill the hole in this picture when he decides to leave. He cannot hear what they say anymore when they stop to talk to him, but his tail rattles his tiny body with the expectation of a hand extended in friendship. He knows that words aren’t always necessary, and needs no explanation. He has no time for judgment.

The cough that wakes him in the night as his enlarged heart presses on his lungs leaves him exhausted, so I grind the coffee and read the paper and glance down from time to time to see if he’s still breathing, while he slows me down and makes me pause. I watch for his ribs to rise for the longest time, my breath releasing as he inhales once more. His sleep lingers longer every morning, and I wait for him to gather his strength.

I am regarding him so intently that I wake him. Black eyes in a bat’s face open to mine, and he looks at me in surprise. What am I waiting for? He’s at the door, wagging his stick of a tail, and I follow him into the sunshine.

Alison Cooper is a UK artist, and resides in Los Angeles.

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Every Day Fiction