We’re watching a show on HBO, the one where Laura Dern plays a woman rebuilding. Her character has the same first name as me, and whenever someone says it, our dog perks her ears. She’s curled up on the couch, her snout pointed north. In each episode we’ve watched so far, Laura Dern pulls herself up and out of one mess only to land again in another. Tonight Laura Dern’s character is camping with her ex-husband, and she gently empties his Ziploc bag of drugs into a river. My dog’s breathing makes a low rumble. Her insides are pebbled with tumors. Each inhale seems to be two, the first gets stuck in her chest and her ribs shiver, then there’s a pause before her belly rises. On the TV, Laura Dern’s character is getting into a fight with her ex-husband in front of all those people and she’s going to go home, where she lives with her mother who is played by her real-life mother. She has no sense of boundaries or privacy, she is a bulldozer plowing into the soft sides of all the other people in her life, but she’s not malicious, she just wants to be better. Under the dog’s chin is a small dark patch of drool, I can’t imagine my life without her. That Laura Dern character has so much hope, I say out loud to my husband, its tenacious. My voice startles the dog. She puts her front legs on the floor and walks them forward. Hope is a stone in a pocket, heavy and hard, I think, no feathers, and the dog stands like that, front feet on the ground, back legs on the couch, a stretch and a stretch and a stretch.

Amie Souza Reilly lives and teaches in Connecticut. Her work can be found in trampset, SmokeLong Quarterly, Catapult, and elsewhere. Tweets @Smidgeon227

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