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Two short stories
by KJ Hannah Greenberg


A Different Hue


She parked her coffee mug in the puddle by her plate.

The other woman shook her head to tsk-tsk her, but said nothing. They were grandmas and as such had little interest in continuing to abide by cultural norms. Her response had grown from habit, not concern.

As the siblings smiled at each other between sips of hot, dark liquid, a turquoise-hued head stuck itself in the doorway. “Granny and Auntie, what time’s dinner?”

“’bout half an hour.”

“Thanks.” The teen bopped away, her second earbud reinserted into her head, her eyes again fixed on her smart phone.

“Mermaid look.”


“That style’s relatively subdued. Last year, it was metallic mane, though her younger sister tried rainbow puff, and her brother went for rose gold blond.”

“Boys into it, too?”


“Apple doesn’t fall far…”

“It was sun streaks. I had to. I never otherwise would have been student council president.”

“I was mortified.”

“You were a nerd.”

“And a virgin.”

“As was I.”


“Hair color’s no indication of chastity.”

“But in college, you went red, then completely blond, then some other streaky thing.”

“You wore flannel shirts and denim.”

“Very comfortable. A wise choice.”

“Emblematic of other things, these days.”

“That was those days. Did your husband like the switch ups?”

“He didn’t care. He noticed, but he didn’t care.”

“Mine would have cared. Did you know I basically gave up makeup and perfume after marrying? He said artificial color and flavors, as he called them, made him sneeze.”

The two women laughed. The older one took their mugs to the sink and sponged away the coffee that had spilled. “I have leftover chicken soup in the freezer. Will they eat that?”

“I hope you have enough. They’ll eat that and more.”

“Okay, I’ll defrost some stuffed vegetables, too.”

“Wow! You still make ‘em?”

“Why not, cheap, easy, and healthy.”

“You really didn’t like my hair? You never said anything.”

“Would you have listened?”

“I’ll set the table.”

“Before that, tell me why your granddaughter went for aquamarine and pale green? I though millennial pink with amethyst roots was trending.”



a line, (a short blue one)



The Impossible Award


“Here Duke, here Boy!”Beep! Beep! Screech.


Duke was Howard’s pet. That schnauzer was better than the baby brother that Mommy had also brought home. Now Duke was dead, but Howard still had that baby brother. Howard sat on the sidewalk and cried.

Abby and June came by. They pointed at Howard and sang, “Howy, Howy, baby, baby, lost his doggy. Sissy, sissy. Stop yelling at us. He’s such a baby.”

Abby and June ran away.

At home, Mommy gave Howard hugs and kisses and made him broccoli stir-fry.

Two weeks later, he was still teary.

“Sweetie, what is….” asked Mommy.

“The pet show. Duke woulda’ won.”

“Maybe a new dog?”

“You wouldn’t get a new baby. There will never be a dog like Duke. He was trained and he’d win the show. I told Abby and June he’d win.”

“Boasting’s not nice.”

“I know.”

“Think about a new dog. There will be many shows. Maybe, get a new dog, now, and think about shows, later.”



* * * *


A few months later, Howard’s little brother was still a baby. Howard still had no dog.

One day, when he returned home from school, he heard a puppy’s cry. There, in his kitchen was a light ball of fur with dark eyes and a dark nose. The puppy wet the floor.

Howard frowned at the puddle, but laughed at the dog, “why do you have such short legs and such a long body?”

The puppy stepped into the puddle and wagged its tail.

“Your head is too big for you, too, but your long ears are cute.”

The puppy walked over to Howard. He tried to reach the boy, but even standing on its rear legs, the puppy only reached Howard’s knee.

Howard backed away from those dirty puppy feet. “You look like a terrier, but not like any I’ve ever seen. Let’s find out what you are. First, let’s wash your feet.”

Howard scooped up a cleaner puppy and went to his computer. After pressing a few buttons, the boy declared, “you’re a Dandie Dinmont!”

The puppy wagged. She made another puddle.

“Mommy’s going to be mad.”

Over dinner, Howard told Mommy and Daddy, and his little brother that he planned to call the dog “Duke.”

“She’s a girl,” Daddy said gently.


“It would be like us calling you ‘Harriet.’”

“Can I call her by her breed?”

“That’s a little weird.”

“How ‘bout ‘Dee-Dee? It’s a girl’s name as well as the first letters of her breed’s name.

“Could work.”

“Come here, Dee-dee. Please don’t puddle.”

One season later, Dee-Dee knew how to: “speak,” “sit up,” “stay,” “sleep,” “come,” and “heel.” Howard again told Abby and June that he had the most winning dog.

His classmates laughed and told him that Dee-Dee was just a mop without a handle.

He shrugged at them. Dee-Dee was a wonderful dog. He still missed Duke, but Mommy said that feeling might last forever.

One day, Roger, Howard’s best friend came over to play ball. They tossed a ball back and forth. Dee-Dee watched and then chased it. A little later, she began to catch it before Howard or Roger could. Finally, she put her front paws on the ball and “walked” it over to Howard.

“Roger, look!”

“I’m looking.”

“Duke couldn’t do that trick.”

Every day, Howard practiced “walking the ball” with Dee-Dee. His dog got better and better at it. The more that she grew, the better she became on keeping her paws on the ball.

When she was almost a year old, Howard entered her into a show.

At the arena, Dee-Dee kept running around and around her carrier. Howard worried she’d have no energy left for her trick. He lifted her out of her carrier and put her on his lap.

Other dog owners, too, had freed their pets from their carriers. There were dogs everywhere.

Since she wanted to make friends, Dee-Dee jumped off of Howard’s lap and ran away.

Howard looked for her. She wasn’t in any of the carriers. She wasn’t under the table that held the carriers. She wasn’t in the preparation room.

Maybe she was in the judges’ circle. He began to walk there.

A lady shouted, “look out!”

Dee-Dee ran passed Howard toward the judges’ circle. A larger dog was chasing her.

Howard was worried that the bigger dog might eat her or that Dee-Dee might crash into the judges’ seats. Dee-Dee, however, stopped running.

She had seen a ball that had been left behind by another dog’s owner. She began to “walk” it. The bigger dog, the one that had chased her, barked, but his owner grabbed him and pulled him away.

Howard watched Dee-Dee “walk” the ball. When she was done, he told her to do her other tricks. People clapped. The judges clapped.

Howard picked up Dee-Dee and took her back to her carrier. Inside of it, she ran in more circles. When she finally fell asleep, he got ready to take her home.

“Where are you going,” asked a judge, who was suddenly standing by Howard.

“Home,” said Howard, a tear falling from his eye. Abby and June were right. He was a baby. Mommy was right. He should never boast about his dogs.

“You have to stay. Your dog is in the finals.”


“Dee-Dee is in the finals.”


“That ball trick. Good job! Plus, her coat is beautiful and her eyes are very clear. You take good care of her. We reward good care.”

After the judge left, Howard hugged Dee-Dee. “You’re better than even Duke!”

Dee-Dee did not win the entire dog show, but she won the terrier prize.

Howard did not enter her in any more shows. He never again boasted about her or about anything.

These days, he plays ball with Dee-Dee and Roger. He also lets his little brother play with them.




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