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Withersmith’s World
by KJ Hannah Greenberg



Withersmith sniffed once, then twice, then yet again. He rolled his tongue over his mouth as the aroma of Crème Brule entered his nostrils. He was odd for a dachshund, preferring sugary treats to meat and gristle.

The wiener hound expectantly wagged his tail at Dorothy, who was applying a nearly dried up felt-tipped pen to the envelopes of wedding invitations. His human companion put her implement down and sighed.

Upon espying the seating chart for the festive meal, she reoriented her biro. Her betrothed’s family had insisted on open seating whereas her parents had asked that guests be given assigned places.

Shrugging off all of those mountains, Dorothy went to the oven to check her cake. Withersmith trotted behind her. He continued to wag.

Worst of all, Dorothy’s father had beseeched her to write a personal note inside of each invitation issued by their side. Of course, all of the preparations were happening concurrent with Dorothy’s finals. In the least, the test on International Law promised to be a doozy.

Withersmith barked. When he stood on his hind legs, he came to Dorothy’s knee. The young woman pushed him away gently, opened her oven’s door, and then peered inside. The middle of her cake had fallen in.

Tears escaped one of her eyes and then the other. Some brazenly rolled off of the tip of her nose.

She swaddled her hands in mitts to lift her failed confection onto her table.

Her doxie barked. 

Shrugging, Dorothy blew on a piece of the sweet treat and then crumbled that portion into Withersmith’s bowl.

The dog ate ravenously.

Nearby, Rudford, Dorothy’s albino hedgehog uncurled; there was too much ruckus to make sleep possible. The furze pig waddled out of his box, which was stationed behind the fridge. He sniffed at the crumbs that Withersmith was eating.

Dorothy reached for her prickly pet. When her tears wet his back, he twisted back into a ball, offering no comfort.


a line, (a short blue one)


The next day both Withersmith and Rudford tried to shake off the pink shellac with which Dorothy had coated their nails. As per her future sister-in-law’s instructions, the bride had tested that hue on her animals. They would not be attending her down the aisle, but they would be featured in the official pictures.

Only Mr. Henry had escaped that cosmetic sacrilege. Rather than have his paws violated, the tom cat had leapt out of Dorothy’s window and onto an adjacent branch. Although he caterwauled all night, he refused to come anywhere near Dorothy.

A few days later, little Nancy Lynn, the neighbor’s child, was able to coax Mr. Henry down with a bit of tuna. Nancy Lynn was supposed to be Dorothy’s flower girl.

Her final status was undetermined, however, since Nancy Lynn sported an arm plaster and a neck brace - she had engaged in a bit of overenthusiastic wagon riding on her driveway. At least, her crashing into her mother’s cement garden gnomes had prevented her from flying into the street. As it was, her parents remained undecided as to whether their “spirited” child ought to be part of a procession.

Using her good arm, Nancy Lynn “carried” Mr. Henry home.

Dorothy thanked her and offered her a cup of juice.

The little girl accepted conditional on Dorothy warming up, via microwave, the bespoken reward “for all of the big numbers.”

Withersmith scampered over to Nancy Lynn and licked her face. He paused his greeting only when Dorothy lightly nudged him away to pass the heated juice to her young neighbor.

Nancy Lynn asked to see Rudford.

Dorothy reached into his box, and then screamed. Not only were her nerves shot, but her wee critter, equally, was gone.

The would-be petal scatterer startled, spilling her juice. Ever the opportunist, Withersmith licked up the puddled drink. He likewise wet the sticky hand that had splashed it.

The telephone clanged. Dorothy’s beloved, who was on the other end, was raving. He had no intention to take out a small loan to fund the “famous” photographer that Dorothy’s mother had requested, and no intention to pay for the “unparalleled” band upon which Dorothy’s father had insisted. Akin to his folks, he was simple in taste and in means.

While Dorothy soothed her groom, Nancy Lynn let herself, Mr. Henry, and Withersmith out. She returned with Rudford in her hand; that little beast had somehow also emancipated himself and then had fallen asleep on the threshold.

Dorothy noticed nothing as her dear heart continued to rant.

Realizing her mother would insist on dinner, bath, and bed, Nancy Lynn, sullenly retrieved Withersmith. As far as she was concerned, Mr. Henry could stay outside; he had already had some tuna and Dorothy didn’t seem to be missing anyone - she hadn’t even offered to refill Nancy Lynn’s cup.

Withersmith jumped onto Dorothy’s sofa, wrapped his tail over his nose, and began dozing. His mistress could be heard yelling and crying, in succession, in her kitchen. Rudford shuffled next to the sofa. Using the stack of pillows, against which Dorothy leaned to watch TV, he climbed up next to his friend.  That sausage dog readjusted his position so that the bristly rodent could wind next to him. One of them snored.

That night, after foregoing cramming any more data about human rights, trade law, or international crimes into her head, Dorothy filled Withersmith’s bowl with half of a burnt cupcake and enticed Rudford to leave the sofa ( she offered the hedgie a handful of mealworms.)

Mr. Henry, who poked his head into Dorothy’s window, deigned to reenter his home. In spite of that reunion, Withersmith refused to share iced cake with the cat.

Dorothy took her bass down from the wall and tightened its pegs. Mr. Henry howled. Dorothy sang. Nancy Lynn, who heard the song through her bathroom window, clapped amidst rubber ducks and suds.

Rudford returned to his box for sleep. Withersmith licked Dorothy’s ankle, wishing it would taste honeyed.




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