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Under the Pecan Tree

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

Dogs inspire us to follow our dreams, even when we don't think we have the strength. An emotional short story of a girl, possibilities, and a dog named Jack.

Millie had left that morning with her belongings stuffed into one ancient suitcase found at the Goodwill for $7.00. It was the kind that was probably manufactured in the 1950s or maybe the 1960s if she was being generous. A turquoise hard shell with sturdy metal locks, its looks mirrored her in more than one way. Striking in her appearance, she stood out in a crowd without meaning to. Circumstances had hardened her, and she had thought it best to remain aloof—closed off from those who ventured too close.

Hailing from a town not worth mentioning, some would say she grew up on the wrong side of tracks. But the reality was, there were no tracks. Because to have tracks meant that progress in some form or fashion had come to that place. The clearest option laid out for people from these parts was in the small church across the way from an unkempt meager cemetery. In no uncertain terms it laid out the circle of birth and death with nothing redeeming in the middle. Millie couldn’t stand walking by that literal interpretation, so she tried to avoid it as much as possible.

As soon as she had graduated from what passed for a high school, she had left. Her Daddy was not long in her life—he stumbled out the door one night and two days later they found him in the Yellow Creek face down with a jug of moonshine by his feet.

He was in that cemetery.

Her Momma had held on, one day and one pack of off-brand cigarettes at a time. After Millie left for good, she still telephoned her once a week and heard the tell-tale signs progress from speaking with a few coughs to coughing with a few words. The day finally came when a call announced the end.

Millie had to return to that cemetery once more, making her 300-mile journey south. And after prayers were whispered and condolences were received, Millie had packed up her few remaining belongings from Momma’s shack and put them into that $7.00 suitcase. Before she left that god forsaken place for the last time, she went to the northwest pecan tree on their paltry plot of land.

Long ago, they had buried Jack here. How that dog had followed her around everywhere. But what she loved most about him was that when she would sit under this tree and dream of possibilities, he would lay down beside her with his head in her lap. They had spent untold hours under this tree talking to no one but themselves, which is why Millie picked this hallowed ground to bury him on. Jack was supposed to have gone with her, and lord how he tried. But towards the end of Millie’s junior year, he took a bad spell. She had stayed up with him night after night and went to school day after day with little to no sleep. Until one night, his breathing slowed and slowed until he breathed his last. She almost broke that night, almost lost the will to escape from this place. But he passed with his head in her lap, in the way he always did when she dreamed her dreams.

So this day, she knelt by that pile of rocks under the pecan tree and told Jack about the past several years. Where she had gone and what she had seen. Told him about the rogue cat that was always lurking by her workplace. About the gas station that had the best fried chicken she had ever tasted, and how she wished she could have given him a piece. About how she had found a new fishing hole where the fish jumped out the water. About her living on her own without having to rely on anyone. But mostly, she told him about how she wished Jack was able to see it. The hardest part came when she had to admit that this would be their last talk together. The finality of it overwhelmed her.

She took two photos out of her suitcase. One was newer and showed her sitting by her new fishing hole. The other was much older and captured the two of them under that tree. Momma must have taken it when Millie wasn’t looking.

Millie took the newer photo and placed it under a few of the rocks marking Jack’s resting place.

The older one with a young girl and a black dog under a pecan tree--she placed back in the suitcase.

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Charlotte A. Cason
Charlotte A. Cason
Aug 07, 2022

This was great. I had a pet dog, cat, and squirrel all buried in my back yard, under a big oak tree. This story brought back some sweet memories of my pets.

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Our pets stay with us longer than the physical time we have with them, but sometimes one in particular sticks with you the most. I know one does for me.

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