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It will be perfect,
my mother said.
No potty training
or messes on the carpet.

I know you wanted an RL dog
but they’re rare now
and expensive.

Not the one
I want,
I said.

You’re thinking of the designer ones.

There’s others.
I’ve seen them at the trash depository.
Maybe we could ask the women who work
there where they got theirs from?

I don’t want you speaking to those women again,
my mother said.
It’s unhygienic.

They’re nice ladies,
I said.
She tutted and turned her face to her manicure.

No.

No RL dogs in this house
but what about this little guy.

She turned her screen to me and
I admit he was cute.

A DG-147.
He was sleek, shiny,
copper-colored
with a REAL-FEEL nose
and panting tongue.

His little spring tail
wagged and wagged

and he had one eye—
a camera lens in the middle of his forehead
so he could record his adventures.

Ok, I said.

I like him
and I did.

Deeg and I have been companions for years.
Always together.
He has got me through the bad times and the good.
He’s my best friend,
just like his box said he would be.

I am a responsible dog owner
Even though my mother thought I wouldn’t be.
I have oiled him
and uploaded his updates
and rubbed his shiny flanks with a dry duster.

I ordered replacement parts for him
when his wore out.
Wanted him to be my dog forever.
I worried that if I died he would be alone but

now they say he is obsolete.
They don’t make them like him anymore.
He needs a new motherboard
but they don’t supply them.
My mother won’t help me find someone to fix him.
Asked me if I wanted a DG-1000.

I don’t.

She says I am too old to cry over a toy.

I told her she is too old

and she locked herself in her capsule.

I don’t want Deeg to suffer
so tomorrow I will turn him off.

I will don my gas mask and go to the trash depository.
I will make my mother take me
and I will disobey her and talk to the nice ladies
and ask them to take care of my dog.

I will tell them that he has been a good boy,
the best
and that he couldn’t have been a better dog
even if he was an RL one
and that he is irreplaceable.

I will ask them to let me pet one of their RL dogs

and on the drive home I will tell my mother

that I can’t wait until she is obsolete.



Emma J. Gibbon is originally from Yorkshire and now lives in Maine. She is a writer and librarian. Her poetry has featured in Pedestal Magazine and Clash. Emma lives with her husband, Steve, and three exceptional animals: Odin, Mothra, and M. Bison (a.k.a. Grim). She is a member of SFPA and her website is emmajgibbon.com.
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1 Mar 2021

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In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Courtney Floyd presents Sasha LaPointe's "Mouth," read by the author. You can find the full text of the story, as well as the story's content warnings, here.
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