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Diane Payne

The Flyer

Please pick up the phone. Why aren’t you answering? Where are you? I saw your flyer and I’m pretty sure I have Pickles.Looks just like the cat pictured with your daughter. That is your daughter, right? I’d be careful posting a picture of your pretty daughter for just anyone to see. That’s just not safe.

There are so many cats runningaround in the neighborhood. I like animals, I really do. But I’m more a dog person. My dogs are going crazy with your cat in the house. Don’t worry, he’s safe. It’s a he, right? I guess this could be a female. Is yours a female? Wait a minute. I hope you don’t mind, but I tore the flyer from the grocery store bulletin board. Oh, Pickles is a girl. Hmm. I’m not sure I can tell the difference with cats.

Dogs! Hush. I’m on the phone!

Pickles is getting them rather excited. We’re not used to having a cat in the house. It wasn’t easy bringing her inside, let me tell you.Pickles really scratched my arm up. I’m not complaining, just saying. Don’t worry, I’m not pregnant. Isn’t that when women have to worry about getting scratched? I’m way past that time in life. Ha! Never had children. Too bad you weren’t looking for a missing daughter. Your daughter is really adorable. The cat is cute too. I’d love to find a little girl. When I was young, I used to dream I’d hear crying outside, and I was certain someone had left a baby at our door. Kind of like Moses in the basket. Maybe I wasn’t really dreaming. That was a long time ago. It was always a cat crying. Never a baby.

I lost a dog once. Spent weeks looking for him. People would call and tell me they had Rex. Rex was a big white dog. I drove miles looking for him. Get to the house and there’d be a brown dog. A black dog.A poodle. Any dog someone was trying to get rid of. Broke my heart. Really did. That’s why I wouldn’t be calling you if I wasn’t almost one hundred percent sure that I have Pickles.

I never found my dog.

Your cat’s crying. Really crying now. Please call! The crying is breaking my heart.

Pickles misses you. She’s really wailing. Where are you? Please don’t call me and tell me you found your Pickles. What will I do with this cat?

I saw the words Missing on your flyer, saw your beautiful daughter. And it wasn’t until I was walking home that I realized Pickles was the cat, not your girl. Funny, isn’t it? I thought Pickles was your daughter. Do you hear your cat crying? Doesn’t this sound just like your Pickles? Please come and get her.

Your daughter must be worried sick. I never did find my dog. I told you that, right?

Your cat’s crying is breaking my heart. Please come and get her. Dogs, hush!


Diane is the MFA Director at University of Arkansas-Monticello.   She is the author of Burning Tulips, Freedom's Just Another Word, and A New Kind of Music.  She has been published in hundreds of literary journals.