In our family, the first case of a mother murdering her child’s pet was recorded in the late 80s when my mother boiled my brother’s (Uncle G’s) pet shrimp. Before you side with my mum on the tastiness of her crime, know this: my brother had caught his friends with a net off the dock our sailboat was moored at for the night.
He had lovingly cradled each shrimp as he slipped him or her into the seawater pool he’d made out of an ice cream bucket.
They had names.
Uncle G had naively trusted our mother when her
hooks hands took his catch and rested them beside her freshly lit alcohol stove. But if he had stopped and looked at our mum, really studied her, he would have seen her eyes had turned from brown to black and a singular strand of drool threatened to drop from the corner of her upturned lips.
Of course, if Uncle G had told his mother they weren’t for consumption, his high-pitched scream harmonizing with the shrimp as they were unceremoniously plunged into the boiling water wouldn’t be seared into my brain.
The second case of peticide happened yesterday. In the hot parking lot. We were walking up to our car after a refreshing swim when I noticed a little lizard speeding away from us on the edge of the yellow curb.
The girls ooh’d and awed at the little fella. When he or she stopped, the girls got up close and personal with him. The cuteness of the moment was not lost on anyone.
Suddenly, their new friend turned. He went rogue. Charging off the curbed away from the trio and the manicured lawn, he came straight at me.
Visions of the lizard running up my leg and into my shorts filled my brain. I danced a silly dance; trying to show my daughters I was cool with the moment their pet went berserk – he didn’t scare me.
But I wasn’t cool nor at peace. I gave the Lords A Leaping a leap for their money. He was out for blood. Not my bare toes. Not on my watch.
“Where did he go?” I asked, quickly feeling my shorts for a stowaway.
“You squished him,” Miss Q said.
“I did not.”
“Yes, you did. You actually squished him,” Miss S replied.
Their faces were long and solemn.
“I didn’t.” I spun around and lifted up my foot. There, under the sole of my cork Birkenstock was the lizard, his soul no longer contained by his scales. “Shoot,” I said.
My girls crouched around their deceased pet. “Poor lizard.”
“Why did you step on him?”
“I wasn’t trying to – I didn’t mean – he ran at me.” Anything I came up with sounded lame. Thirty seconds before that wild animal had been poised to attack – both he and I knew it.
“Sorry, Dudes.” I crouched down with them. He wasn’t moving, or breathing but his head and upper body still looked whole. “Guess he’ll make a crow happy now,” I said, trying to lighten the mood; illustrate the circle of life, but knowing all the while I was going down in their books, like my mother before me, as a pet murderer.