|Thanks to D.B. McNicol for the image.
"Well, he's dead for sure. Look at those hollow eyes."
"His eyes always looked kind of hollow to me. I mean, he's a lizard. His eyes are just two black dots anyway."
We looked into the tank of my Dragon Amigus - like a Bearded Dragon without the beard. I could tell he was dead, but Bentley wasn't convinced. He was 12, my neighbor's son, and at that questioning age.
Unprompted, Bentley lifted the mesh lid and poked at the lizard, who promptly fell off his perch on the little plastic tree and rolled onto his side. Dead.
I had never wanted a furry pet, or anything that would take over the house. I had dog-sat many times, and never wanted to be that burden to a friend. My best friend traveled a lot, but loved having a dog at home.
"Would you stay with her?" She asked, the first time.
"Can I just come by to walk and feed her? Why do I need to stay?" People always assume it's a pleasure to sleep in their house, like a vacation.
"Maybe someday, but she's still a puppy. I don't want her to get lonely." The "puppy" didn't look like a puppy, but whatever.
In time it became apparent that my friend's dogs remain puppies forever. We never got to a point where she'd leave the dog alone overnight, and I eventually stopped dog-sitting.
A reptile is easier. They just need water in the rock, and a couple crickets every other day. When I got Spartacus I knew my kind of pet-sitting wouldn't be a burden. No one would have to give up the comfort of their own home for me! And for a quick overnight or weekend jaunt, I could just drop extra crickets into the tank.
It was rare that I was gone long enough to make a request for someone to check on Spartacus. I was confident it was an easy task. Much easier than the heavy burden of moving out of one's own home for a weekend or more.
Turned out, her friend was grossed out by the crickets. She didn't even need to touch them, but the idea grossed her out. She told me what a fantastic friend she was for doing me this favor. I refrained from calling myself a great friend for the many, many times I stayed with her "puppy". Our concept of "burden" was clearly very different.
Well, now Spartacus was gone.
"Will you bury him?" Bentley asked.
"Nah. I think we should just set him under that bush out back. Let nature take its course. What do you think?"
"Cool. Can I do it?"
We placed Spartacus under the bush to feed the birds or whatever preyed on his kind. Not even a burden to mother earth.
Every Friday, a new flash fiction story, inspired by reader comments, when possible. Feel free to leave a prompt for future use in the comments below. I hope you liked that story, based on the prompt "an experience with a pet and how it changed you" given by Dihiwi (of In My Own Words) during the A-to-Z challenge, on my "T" post (here).
If you choose to join in for Fiction Fridays, post a link to your story below in the comments. Next week's prompt is: "a co-worker's party". If you join me next week, be sure to come back and share a link to your story!