Winter 2012, #18


Cut the Rug

     by Paula Williams

Hands didn't create me, so I will die before my grandfather.

When they first brought me home, they placed me in the room next to my grandfather, he who'd served for many years, glossed with an aged sheen of dignity, as if a polished stone repeatedly touched over time. Yes, they'd finally put him aside, underfoot at the table. A young pup liked to visit him, stretching in delight to foot massages or licking toes, begging for a nibble. There, grandfather stayed for many years, because they brought me home to the place of honor.

They spent many days with me, treating me with the utmost kindness and delicacy, keeping me spotless, the envy of their friends who came into my room. They fawned over me, clean and without blemish, bright and fresh, as a newborn lamb brought into the fold, and commented how charming I was in the room prepared around me.

Most days I lay alone, watching the sun travel across the room, working its intense heat deep into the tufts of multicolored threads. I didn't complain. The sun's warmth kept me satisfied, until I heard the door open and heavy traffic begin again, where the pup would lick me, lay with me, scratch me, play with me.

Some nights, especially cold ones in front of a stoked fire, they spent rollicking with me on the floor, but I had no qualms sharing their lovemaking. Although the stains jaded me a bit, I enjoyed the intimacy of love, especially when they stayed the night, keeping me warm, their bodies close with four pairs of cheeks pressed into me.

Then one day a miniature of them came, and stayed, and they never spent the night with me again.

As this new creature grew, it now garnered all attention where friends awed over it like many other new toys--but this toy didn't wear out, and they didn't throw it away. Even though daily attention kept me clean, I couldn't conceal the disgusting stench of stomach acids and excrements leaving me permanently stained and matted—and I came to loathe him.

However, one day, the creature joined me and we played together, and I fell in love with him. All day he kept me company as the sun traveled across, bathing us in its warmth, like a ray of hope on an icy day. I'd never known the amazing touch of a little creature like this. His hands pulled me, poked me, pushed me about, but his curiosity brought pleasure as I endured his torture, bared his stains, and kept him warm. He and the dog slept, laid, and played with me many, many years. Until one day I moved.

They bore me from the room of friends and fire. I rarely glimpsed the sun, but I didn't mind. I was there for the boy. Although he smothered me with his toys, his books, his clothes, the dog would visit, but only to sniff out stale pizza, gym socks, or mud stains. They would come but only to curse the boy and slam the door. Soon they shunned me, then blamed and criticized me for their escalating upkeep costs.

I soiled their flawless lives so they put me out.

When they dragged me away, I could see my grandfather, still in the room where they'd placed him the day I'd arrived. He still lived his life of dignity, but I wouldn't have such an honor; I wasn't created in his tradition. I came out of a fake generation. I only reflected him, a dim imitation. Therefore, they cut me up, and all but the best part of me, they threw away.

My finest corner, which had sat under the side chair far from the friends, the sun, and the boy, had survived. Only this corner was worthy to be in the dog's house. Now, the wobbling dog alone lay with me, and I keep him warm. We will grow old and worn together until the day they cut him down, wrap him with me, and throw us away, buried together in the yard, where the boy will toss a Frisbee to a new pup and track in mud on their pristine rug.