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Olga Katsovskiy

A Secret Language

Forest of Fountainebleau by Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña

Dan, my German Shepard, was only the size of a small grizzly bear when he died. He lived in the wooden doghouse my father constructed in the yard and always nuzzled his nose in my armpit when I stepped out. He trailed behind me, wandering around the village. We shared a secret animal language. I once put a dandelion crown on his head, his quizzical beige eyebrows wiggled on his forehead like two furry caterpillars. In the white of winter, he sat in front of me on my sled and I wrapped my arms around his thick neck as we slid down a snowbank.

That spring his muscular body atrophied and his skin began to separate from his flesh. He curled himself against the farthest corner of his doghouse and refused to come out. I peered into the darkness and saw he barely had the strength to raise his eyes and made no sound, not even a whimper. My parents told me not to touch him. All the village dogs, including Dan, were put down when a strange condition caused their skin to gradually rot and fall off. The hunter’s gunshots sounded, one by one, in the depths of the forest, muffling the barking into the loudest silence I’ve ever heard.

About the writer:
Olga Katsovskiy is a writer/editor/educator based in Boston, where she teaches creative writing courses at Cambridge Center for Adult Education, a non-profit providing multidisciplinary classes in the heart of Harvard Square. Additionally, she is a Creative Nonfiction Editor at Minerva Rising Press and Associate Creative Nonfiction Editor at jmww journal. Her work has appeared in Atticus Review: The Attic, Barzakh Magazine, Gone Lawn Journal, Prose Online, and others.

Image: Forest of Fountainebleau by Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña (1807-1876). Oil on mahogany panel. 30.7 x 25.4 inches. 1871. Public domain.

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