CHEAPER THAN A DOG

Your name is Prosody.

My name is Prosody, she replied.

No!

The man struck her. You sound much too timid!

She tried again.

My name is —

Smack!

You sound like you’re unsure!

There were tears. She was only 7, barely two feet tall. She smiled, but you could sense she was deeply hurt.

I don’t like you.

Why don’t you like me, she replied — then was punched this time, eliciting another howl, then pleading. Please, stop! Get off. Please!

A voice from behind the glass spoke. Sounds fake.

If you play with me then I will like you.

She rushed to the small table, eager. I like to play!

That’s not where you’re supposed to sit!

There was an audible whimper. She slowly got off the chair. She stood, trying hard not to cry, failing.

You know where you’re supposed to sit!

The tears began streaming down her pudgy cheeks. She did not know where she was supposed to sit.

Can I sit here?

Another voice from behind another glass. Now she sounds too human.

You’re too fat to sit there.

I wish I wasn’t fat.

You are fat! Fat and stupid! We are not friends!

Please be my friend! She rushed in close for a hug.

The man looked toward the glass. I think she’s ready.

The perfect companion. Even for the problem children.

For $50 you can’t expect perfection.

Still, cheaper than a dog.