By Rebecca Lanning

December 2, 2019


She was over dogs when one appeared by their table at a beachside cafe. Strays roamed everywhere in Nosara, breedless, leashless wonders. This one had some pit bull and Corgi. Her husband thought hound. Pointy ears, long snout, a wound on the side of his head. He sat patiently at her feet as they drank vodka and watched the sky turn peach, then purple.

When their food arrived, she offered the dog bits of her fish. He ate gently from her fingertips, unlike their retrievers who’d snatch treats from her hand, breaking skin. Still, she missed them, their slobber and sharp teeth, their beating hearts. It had been a year of deaths: her mother, friend, mother-in-law, both dogs, the cat.

¿Como se dice grief?

When the dog finished her fish, she held her water glass under his chin, and he lapped without splashing. Gentleness could be a survival skill. He trotted up the beach and disappeared into the forest shade.

Later, as they walked back to their hotel in the pearly half-light, she found a heart-shaped rock with a hole in it. The sky looked like the battered surface of the moon. Under a thatched roof palapa, they spotted a wood bench with pura vida painted across it in red, white, and blue. Pure life, simple life. She pressed her hand to her face, remembering the dog, their dinner guest, his tender tongue on her fingers, the soft grace of his fur.


Rebecca Lanning reads manuscripts for The Sun magazine. Her writing has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Salon, Brain, Child Magazine, and elsewhere. She lives with her family in Chapel Hill, NC.

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