The Dog Thing
Zeus will destroy this race of men when they come to have gray hair on the temples at their birth.
—Works II.170, Hesiod
The Dog-Thing (we had nothing better to call it) walked on two legs, and for all we know, was quite happy. He (she? it?) went for short walks in the morning, and longer walks in the evening. We can only guess as to why: the beach is less crowded. Or when it's dark, no one pauses to look at the thing walking along in a Nantucket Rowing Society sweatshirt.
The Dog-Thing spent most of the time locked in the study, reading Hesiod. Once, when my child and I went to the park across the street to play in the tall grass, I caught the Dog-Thing regarding us with disdain from the study window.
In the fall, the Dog-Thing brought home a small child, and would read to it from the Collected Works. I found my Nantucket Rowing Society sweatshirt folded up on the chair in my room, and the Dog-Thing took to wearing simpler things. Recycled fabrics, lost linens, found blankets, stitched up grocery bags, newspaper leggings… The small child who had been brought home also started to wear these recycled fabrics, found linens, etc. etc….
My own small child would be cutting a broccoli, and the other child would run out, wildly swinging a copy of the Theogony, until my own child would stop cutting the broccoli. This happened many times. My own small child would cry at night. He had never done this; he had always been happy and I did not know what to do when he cried. I would wait outside his room, quietly looking at the door. One night, when he stopped crying, I went in to congratulate him, and found the Dog-Thing standing over his bed with a small bust of Hesiod, illustrating a point, my own small child looking on in delight. I went over and grabbed the bust from the Dog-Thing's hands (paws? claws?), and it fell to the floor. The Dog-Thing looked at me, eyes softening, and the small child who was not mine came out from the corner, picked up the broken pieces of the Hesiod bust, and tugged at the Dog-Thing's Nantucket Rowing Society sweatpants (which, soon after, I found folded on the chair in my room, along with a note explaining the Dog-Thing's intent as follows:
The house was to be sectioned off. The rooms, converted. The Dog-Thing would take the left side of the house; my small child and I, the right. The front door would be paved over with stone, and we would find new ways to enter the house. The living room would become a place of quiet. The kitchen cupboards would be dismantled, and placed on the floor to collect rainwater. We would pause at each cupboard, and consider our reflections).
The Dog-Thing began to bring home other small children. My own grew lonely. His skin looked gray, and he looked hungry. Our side of the house was too large, so we resigned ourselves to my bedroom where we would sit on the chair and listen to the quiet footsteps.
The walls were knocked down on the Dog-Thing's side, and gravel pits were dug. A forum was made. The Dog-Thing and all of the brought-home children (there were now very many) met and discussed progress, time, death. We stayed huddled in my room, my small child and I, until he grayed past a sensible point. I dressed him in recycled linen and sent him out so that he could act as one of the other small children, attend a forum. He was to voice my complaints, to ask Why? to the Dog-Thing and to all present authority.
Hayden Bennett is the editor of the Believer Logger .
Illustration by Taylor Baldry.