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3 I t was stupid to ask for the dogs. Dee had done it on impulse, when the excitement of getting divorced was starting to wear off. “I want full custody,” she told Carter. “The same as if we had kids.” “I guess I don’t care,” he said. Carter was cleaning out the front closet and he sat back on his toes. “If you think you can handle it, then you can take them. It’ll just make life easier on me.” The dogs, Ralph and Mickey, lay together in their crate, curled up in an endless circle of fur. Mickey raised his head at the sound of Carter’s voice, then gave a snort and went back to sleep. “Okay, good,” she said. “I just wanted to get that straight.” It might have been nice if Carter could’ve acted a little more upset, but Dee let it go. She’d been the one to ask for the divorce anyway, bringing it up one night when they’d gone out for Mexican. It was January then and the first snow of the year had fallen over the hills, silencing the town until the warm earth beneath began to melt the ice and cold away. Dee had lived in Arkansas all her life, where everyone stayed inside until the snow was nearly gone. “What the hell, Dee? Where did this come from?” Carter asked her when she told him she’d already seen an attorney. Dee licked the salt from the rim of her glass, and her face puckered as she told him the truth. “I never wanted to get married in the first place. I was all mixed up even before the wedding.” “But you cried during our vows.” “I know, but I was caught up in the moment,” she said, digging a tube of lip balm out of her purse. She loved the margaritas at Jose’s, but the salt made her lips burn. “You know, the dresses and the flowers and that Bible passage they read and all. It was like crying at a movie.” “The dresses?” he asked, looking at her like she was crazy, but by then the waiter had come back and was standing over ANGELA MITCHELL ANIMAL LOVERS Winner of the 2009 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction, selected by Robert Boswell colorado review 4 them, refilling the salsa bowl. Dee smiled at the waiter. “Brown Eyed Girl” played in the background, a song Dee enjoyed imagining was just for her. When she turned back around, Carter had his face in his hands and she dropped her head down to see if he was crying. He wasn’t, but that was all right. It might’ve been embarrassing to have him cry right there at Jose’s. Instead, Carter sat up and rubbed his nose, then picked up a tortilla chip and put it in his mouth. “What the hell, Dee?” he said again, mumbling as he chewed. But now Carter was fine with the divorce and had even been cooperative about the division of goods. They’d talked it over and decided the best thing was to pile up all the junk they didn’t want and have a garage sale. They’d split the money and whatever was left. “As long as we’re calling dibs, though, I’d like to have the crystal,” he said. “Oh, and the china. I love that china.” What kind of man wants china? Dee thought, but agreed to let him have it. It was ugly anyway. She’d picked it out herself, thinking it was stylish, but now she knew better. In ten years, no one would want it. It wasn’t the type of china you kept for a lifetime; it wasn’t china you’d pass down to your children. Not that Dee had wanted to have children with Carter. And maybe this was why, because she knew she’d never want to get pregnant by a man like him, one who valued china or the crystal goblets for which she’d foolishly registered. Dee and her mother had floated around Dillard’s, greedily checking off each item they wanted, chattering at...


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