stories

Standing Woman - Chapter 1 - page 2

"You brought him something? I slipped up today. I forgot to bring my bread." I said to the elderly man.
He turned gentle eyes on me and smiled softly.
"Ah, you like this fellow, too?"
"Yes," I replied, sitting down beside him. "He looks like the dog I used to have."
The dogpillar looked up at me with large, black eyes and wagged its tail.
"Actually, I kept a dog like this fellow myself," the man said, scratching the ruff of the dogpillar's neck. "He was made into a dogpillar when he was three. Haven't you seen him? Between the haberdashery and the film shop on the coast road. Isn't there a dogpillar there that looks like this fellow?"
"Yes, yes," I nodded, adding. "Then that one was yours?"
"Yes, he was our pet. His name was Hachi. Now he's completely vegetized. A beautiful dogtree."
"Ah yes. That turned out to be a splendid shrub." I nodded repeatedly. "Now that you mention it, he does look a lot like this fellow. Maybe they came from the same stock."
"And the dog you kept?" the elderly man asked. "Where is he planted?"
"Our dog was named Buff," I answered, shaking my head. He was planted beside the entrance to the park-cemetery on the edge of town when he was four. Poor thing, he died right after he was planted.
The fertilizer trucks don't get out that way very often, and it was so far I couldn't take him food every day. Maybe they planted him badly. He died before becoming a tree."
"Then he was removed?"
"No. Fortunately, it didn't much matter there if he smelled or not, so he was left there and dried out. Now he's a bonepillar. He makes fine material for the neighborhood elementary school science classes, I hear."
"That's wonderful."
The elderly man stroked the dogpillar's head. "This fellow here, I wonder what he was called before he became a dogpillar."
"No calling a dogpillar by its original name," I said. "Isn't that a strange law?"
The man gave me a quick glance, then replied casually. "Didn't they just extend the laws concerning people to dogs? That's why they lose their names when they become dogpillars."