What is “creative non-fiction”? It’s a story based on real events, facts plus just a bit of literary license applied to accommodate memory lapses. So, yes, this pretty much happened, and it was very much horrible.
Did I Kill Your Puppy?
I didn’t know how to do CPR on a puppy, but I tried. After I pulled Smokey out of the swimming pool, I held him upside down and smacked his back to force water from his lungs. Only foam came out. I tried chest compressions – thirty, like I would for a baby – but his ribcage wasn’t shaped like a baby’s, and I wasn’t sure I was pushing in the right place. He didn’t respond. I covered his foamy muzzle with my mouth and puffed one-two-three. No change. I repeated this until I realized I was wasting my time. I gave up, hugged his wet body and cried.
Did I kill your puppy? I guess so. But I don’t feel like a killer. “Kill” infers intent, and Smokey is not dead on purpose. No, I feel like an idiot – a stupid, severely negligent idiot. I let him out back to play with the big dog but returned to my hack-and-slash video game instead of supervising him. I heard the big dog bark and bark, but I continued fighting bosses so I could level-up and increase my armor class. And following the death of a particularly difficult monster, when I noticed the real world was just too silent, I ignored the desire to investigate and chose instead to swing my sword again and again until my quest was over. Then I went outside to check on Smokey. I found the big dog sitting by the pool. I found the puppy floating in it.
Did I kill your puppy? I guess so. I think about it every time a dog barks with concern and when I sit in the chair with the broken spindles – the chair you threw across the dining room when I told you Smokey drowned. I think about it when I look at the pool, the one I don’t swim in anymore. And when you look at puppies, I think about it, because I know you are, too.