O little sister, he thought when it was over, lost beyond reason yet come to me for help: I, the stray dog of the desert, who sloped long and pale, slashed to ribbons, across the moonlight sands on my journey to God. One pause taken in that slow descent to be here, and end you.
I knew you howled, dogs in the night, but I did not know you spoke.
But it did, she beneath his hand in the gray alley did, with her wide pale sclera gazing up at him through their own milky rimes. She with her long flutterings of fur that prickled to rigid attention under the first crackle of the ink-carved heresies on his arm. She whose innocent smile he still saw in the curious lift and tilt of her shaggy head, against his calloused palm.
The word fell from among the hair that softened the cleft canine lip, "Papa."
And she flew apart as the second syllable died, butterfly rising into the air in sparking coils of red insides that spread like the first moist wings, taking the air, testing it, coming to light trembling on the wall to gradually open as they dried. A slow drip slid to the ground, and he closed his mind against it, but still...
Still. A bit of her hair remained between his fingers, thin waving gossamer strands. He gazed at it, and took the memory of it into himself. And some small part of him was damned anew.