Naming the Giraffe
by Lynn Watson
They bought the five-foot wooden giraffe on the last day of their honeymoon in Ocho Rios. They'd visited him every day at the end of the beach, where a Jamaican lady sold carved chairs and animals, and they had fun haggling over the price. He had to be checked as luggage. Two Jamaicans at the airport boxed him up for ten dollars, and she was worried the giraffe would break. On the plane ride home they drank champagne and decided to name him Arnold. She watched with relief as Arnold circled around the luggage belt, his ear sticking from the top of the box.
A year after they bought their first home, where Arnold kept watch from behind a ficus in the living room corner, she got an unexpected check for $2400 from their mortgage company. She'd overpaid into their escrow account. It came to their Post Office box, to which she had the only key. He wouldn't notice the extra money in their banking account, because he was no longer allowed access to that, either.
That evening, after he passed out sitting up on the sofa, she logged onto the internet and made travel arrangements for herself to Ocho Rios. She closed her laptop and looked at Arnold. He needed dusting.
She bought Arnold's companion, a three-foot wooden giraffe, on that second trip. She boarded the plane in Atlanta around the same time her husband checked himself into rehab, in North Carolina. She put Arnold's companion in the overhead bin on the flight back. Her husband came home six months later and met Arnold's companion. Neither of them mentioned naming this one.
The Jamaican who sold her Arnold's companion had asked for two-hundred. She offered twenty, and on their last night together, the Jamaican accepted.
About the author:
Lynn Watson is a Ph.D. candidate at the Center for Writers. She is associate editor for Mississippi Review and a columnist for the Hattiesburg American. Her fiction, poetry, and reviews can be found in a variety of print and online journals.