A Eulogy for Pretzel
by Lily Dodd
Issue #30 • May 18, 2015•Buy Now!
Truth is, I killed your hamster. I want the next sentence to be, “But it was an accident,” but it wasn’t an accident. It was a long time ago. The summer we turned ten, before everyone got Facebook accounts and became terrible people. I measured the passing days by the grass stains on my knees and the chlorine-bleached stiffness of your hair. That’s how we met, the pool. It was our last summer in one-pieces.
Your hamster’s name was Pretzel. He looked a bit like a pretzel, too—not a proper twisty pretzel, but one of those little stubby ones filled with peanut butter that your mom brought to the pool. There were even flecks of white in his fur, like salt. You had built Pretzel a maze of colored plastic tubes that went all around your room, above your door, behind your headboard. Pretzel never used the tubes.
One day after swim practice, we sat on your carpeted floor, stroking Pretzel through the baby-blue wires of his cage. It was early evening and I wasn’t going to sleep over, but maybe I’d stay for dinner and a movie.
“This is boring,” you said. “He never does anything.”
“Yeah,” I agreed.
Lily Dodd is a sixteen-year-old high school junior at The Urban School of San Francisco. A Eulogy for Pretzel is her first published story. Lily has won several awards for her writing, including a Level One Award in Short Story Writing from the National Young Arts Foundation. She adores comedy and being with her friends. Lily is currently working on a young adult novel.
Patrick Ryan on A Eulogy for Pretzel
Bad news: Pretzel’s dead. But I guess that was clear from the title of our new issue, “A Eulogy for Pretzel.” Pretzel was a hamster. He was very cute until he suffered a head injury and then went to hamster heaven (where, for all we know, he’s still cute—rock those wings, Pretzel!). Point is, there were two young girls who were friends right around the time Pretzel croaked, and now, years later, they’ve drifted apart and aren’t friends anymore. And one of them is reaching out to the other one to explain why (and to ’fess up about what happened to Pretzel, all those years ago).
We read over 300 entrees for our One Teen Story Teen Writing Contest last year, and we narrowed those down to a shortlist of finalists that we gave to our guest judge, Tara Altebrando. Tara read and loved each story we sent her, but the one she loved the most is “A Eulogy for Pretzel,” written by 16-year-old Lily Dodd.
We’re very excited to be publishing Lily Dodd’s story and to be introducing you to Lily’s writing. “A Eulogy for Pretzel” is a little bit sad and a little bit funny. It’s a confessional tale filled with lament, snark, confrontation, and text messages. It shows us that Lily Dodd is a force to be reckoned with and a writer to keep your eye on. Huge thanks to Tara Altebrando for selecting her, and the hugest thanks of all to Lily.
No hamsters were harmed in the writing of this story.
Q&A by Patrick Ryan
Every so often I’d see on Facebook people playing a game called “Truth Is,” in which they’d offer to tell someone (publicly, on that person’s wall) exactly how they feel about that person. To me, a lot of the “Truth Is” posts I saw were lame. They often went, “Truth is, I don’t know you that well but you’re really pretty and we should hang out more.” Which is, you know, fine. But I was waiting for someone to be like, “Truth is, I have always found you repugnant and wish you lived far away.” Alas, nothing like that ever came. So Thalia’s confession to Fay is what I’ve always wanted a “Truth Is” to be: painfully honest, way too long for a Facebook post, and extremely uncomfortable for however many hundreds of mutual friends you have.
There are also two pre-WWII American history stories I’m obsessed with. I want to fictionalize one, if not both. I know I should prioritize, but I have no idea how.