And once again the Labrador delivered the tennis ball to her master, only to watch her master, once again, toss it to the far end of the park. But this time, as she trotted back with the ball squeezed in her jaws, she noticed the swarm of dogs mindlessly racing all around her and saw, in their faces, the tongue-drooping grins of the damned. Their tails were wagging from habit—not joy—as they carried tennis balls, Frisbees, and sticks to their masters, earning, at most, a single pat on the head. The Labrador lay in the grass. The sound of jingling tags hammered her ears. Her master was clapping. This toss and retrieve, she realized, would never end. Perhaps today it would end—with rubbed tummies, a bacon-like chemical treat—but tomorrow she would again ride in the bed of a truck to this very park, to fetch for hours, retrieving, retrieving, retrieving, not because the activity pleased her, but because her mother had fetched, and her mother had fetched, and every one of her siblings had fetched; but tradition was no reason to maintain the practice, for fetching, though in her blood, she thought—as she let the slobbery ball drop from her mouth—was no longer in her heart.
This, the housefly mused, is life. Tuscany, Lyon, Aspen, Tahiti: exotic travel could never compare to a day spent vomiting on a cherry pit and consuming its residual flesh. The housefly cherished this wonderful moment, knowing that though a dark night awaited us all, his was yet to—
The Portuguese Man o’ War had traveled south seeking solitude. It longed to discover its singular self. But even as it floated alone on the undulant water, none of its brethren in sight, it felt a strange and maddening connection to others. This wasn’t due to the plankton and minnows trapped in its tentacles. Those creatures, deceased, didn’t contribute to its sense of paralyzing interdependence. No. The feeling was caused by something inside of itself. The feeling was inescapable, eternal, and true. We are nothing, it conceded, but fragments shaped with the glue of the soul. Singularity is a myth. Nothing is nothing but everything.
Looking back on my life I cannot help but think that I’ve let the glorious world pass before my eyes, thought the sloth.
Sure, they had loved, and they would continue to love, but on that snowy December evening, as the swan gazed at his partner (so graceful and true to him), he thought not of the love they had shared, but of the love she had shared with another when she was a youth. Years ago a swan of courage and passion had given his life defending her from a trio of wolves. The wolves had feasted on her former lover, and she, distraught, had promised to never love again, she had told her partner that evening, as they watched the snow faintly collect on the ice of the lake (just as it had the night her former lover had perished), and though she assured him that those feelings had changed when she met him, some hours after her first lover died, he could not help feeling that her promise had never been broken, that during their time together, yes, they had loved, they had loved with incredible passion, but they had never loved one another.
And even after seeing her mother murdered that morning, by a corpulent human firing BBs, the nightingale sang with astonishing power. Not, as one might suspect, out of mourning, but because it was all she knew. The nightingale, majestically perched on the branch of an oak, spread her wings, feeling, in this moment, that she would never die, for her brain was a puny contraption too weak to fathom mortality.