”I’m KIIIIING of the FOOOOOOREST,” belted out the bigger one, stomping away and the other one followed yelling, “Okay so I’m the prince of the forest” and they became smothered by trees. Their voices continued on towards the creek and I followed close behind using their uncontrolled bleating as a guide for distance. They shouted about ruling the forest and being kings of it, or a king and a prince: at this they argued as they continued for the smaller seemed to think that he would be king one day due to being a prince and the other argued “Once a king, always a king.” When their voices went silent all at once I froze, uncertain, and then fell to my belly in order to crawl closer out of sight. As I approached them they were staring at the ground.
”Gotta tell mom!” the smaller one was yelling as the larger held him with both hands at the arms, suddenly in the role of father. The little one just couldn’t stop shaking: his voice warbled and his hands were grasping at his brothers’ shirt, smearing mud all over it.
”Jus’ stop, jus’ stop. Mom can’t do anything about it okay it’s dead. It’s just a dead dog.”
”But its HEAD.”
”Hey man hey. Look, hey. Jus’ wanna look at it, jus’ stop okay? Don’t piddle, bitch.”
”I’m not a piddle bitch,” the little one pouted a bit, the insult actually stabilizing his panic, before glancing again at the creek and stumbling back shocked anew. His nose ran with snot which he wiped across his arm and he warbled out,
”It’s not gonna go to heaven ‘less we get mom to get dad’ta bury it.”
”Shut it up. Dogs don’t go to heaven, ‘member?”
”Yes they do! They do! I don’t care what you think! I don’t care what dad said! We gotta bury it!”
The tall one moved from staring at the dog back to his brother in the mud, kneeling down to take him by both shoulders.
”It’s like cats, like mouses, like birds, like uncle’s iguana, okay? It’s okay. Dogs don’t go to heaven.”
”Yes they DO!” screamed the little one, starting to cry.
”No they don’t!”
”He’s right,” I said, crawling to my feet, “Dogs don’t have souls. It’s all right, he’s just a simple beast.”
I stood before them without my makeup and in full daylight covered in mud and dog’s blood. As soon as their eyes fell upon me they both made a noise impossible to replicate or feign. I hated it, it was horrible and as soon as I could I began to apologize to them, comfort them, but it was difficult with my mouth full of blood and my teeth bound together with skin.
”I swear, no, this is not me, I love children, I love them, I’m sorry I’m doing this,” I said holding the boy up by one wrist as he thrashed and kicked. His brother fled from what I’m sure would be the defining memory of his natural life, that of his younger brother screaming and screaming as a man bit pieces off his arm off clear through to the bone while mumbling through the mouthfuls, “This isn’t really me, I’m not like this at all. I swear I’m not this person,” and then more things that he didn’t hear and that are lost to my memory completely.