Flash fiction: Puppy Love at the Folk Art Museum

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write about falling in love in a museum. Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the kidlit mystery series Corgi Capers.

Puppy Love at the Folk Art Museum

Val Muller

It had been a year since his father died, yet Melvin still felt lost. From the outside, things were the same, but to him, life felt like a shell only. If something funny happened at work, he still thought about calling his dad on the way home. Dad was always one for—well, Dad jokes, stupid puns, and goofy misunderstandings. But as quickly as the instinct hit, so did the remembrance.

There was no one to call on the way home. It was almost like Dad’s absence made all the humorous anecdotes lose all meaning. He found himself on this cloudy Saturday heading to the Apple Valley Folk Art Museum, a favorite of Dad’s. He had gone many times with his father, and lately he hadn’t been able to get the museum out of his mind.

*

The museum was folk art, naïve art, just the kind James had loved and painted. Rose could barely believe he was gone—from breathing to buried in a matter of weeks. The whirlwind of death and paperwork and funeral and well wishes had settled, and now things were too quiet.

Well, except for Beamer.

Beamer was not quiet. James’s service dog, Beamer made his presence known through soft but insistent communication. James had a zillion tasks for the service animal. Rose had none, and the dog was languishing under her care.

“Care.”

She was just as much a dog person as the artistic James had been an accountant. It’s true that opposites attract, but it’s not true that your opposite wants to take care of your emotional support dog after you die. If only she could find someone to take the dog.

*

Melvin found the painting, the one his father loved. It was a folk art piece depicting an unidentifiable planet—it wasn’t Earth, since Earth was visible far away in the space backdrop—and dandelion seeds were floating in the air.

Dad had loved the painting because of the irony. The nuisance plant on Earth was thriving on the planet, and the painting implied that the seeds were helping to terraform it. Folk art and sci-fi, a mix Dad chuckled at.

There was something hopeful about the idea of continuing on. Life after Earth. That sort of thing. Mel stared at the painting and sighed. Despite the familiar and hopeful message, Mel felt no closer to closure than he had for the past year.

Behind him, something whimpered softly. It was an older woman and a dog—the dog wore a bright vest labeled “service animal.”

“Oh, pardon us,” she said.

Mel looked from the woman to the painting, then back to the dog. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. “Were you waiting for a turn at this painting?”

The woman dismissed the idea with the wave of her hand. “Yes, but you looked so lost in thought, we wanted you to take your time.”

“We?”

The woman laughed sadly. “Me and—well, I guess me and the dog. I’m Rose. This is Beamer.”

“Beamer,” Mel said. “Like the car.”

Rose laughed. “That’s exactly the joke. James used to tell people he always travels with his Beamer.”

“A dad joke.” Mel smile-frowned. “My dad would’ve loved it.”

Rose’s eyes understood immediately. “I’m sorry—when?”

“He loved this painting.”

Beamer whimpered and pulled toward Mel.

“Sorry.” Rose pulled back, but Mel reached out and pet the pup. “I know it says he’s a service dog, but James stretched that certification as far as it would go. He wanted to bring this dog everywhere. Now—”

But she stopped short. Here, in front of her husband’s painting, this young man was gazing into Beamer’s eyes as lovingly as only one man had done before.

“Hey,” Rose said. “There’s this nice little coffee shop down the street. Why don’t we—”

And they did.

The Spot Writers—Our Members: 

Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

 

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