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Word Count: 3,109
A strange woman comes to my door one day in early March Its a prosperous area so we often have people selling things door-to-door - dusters make-up frozen foods - but she doesnt look like a professional saleswoman She hasnt got the patter either She just smiles awkwardly and thrusts a card in my hand Amy Turner Pet Portraits Undertaken I run my fingernail along the cheap gold edge of the card and look at her waiting for an explanation Ill paint any animal in the comfort of your own home Amy Turner says Wouldnt you like a unique portrait of your loved one Ive had experience of dogs cats parrots prize bulls Prize bulls I cant help looking up and down our suburban street The thought of any of my neighbours keeping bulls in their back gardens makes me smile but then I see that Amy looks cross and I realise Ive interrupted her sales pitch I dont have any animals I say as we look past each other She must be wishing some little cat or dog would come running down the hall to give the game away and it is the first chance Ive had to sniff the air outside It is one of those spring mornings when you wake up and find winters gone Even the camellia in the garden opposite has flowered overnight vulgar pink blossoms which look shocking against the quiet greens and greys Why are you still in your dressing gown Amy says turning her attention back to me Its nearly lunchtime Are you ill Im fine I lie Im not going to tell a stranger Ive just been sick in the toilet upstairs and would still be sticking my fingers down my throat if the doorbell hadnt rung But now Im not sure what to do next Amy is still standing there She doesnt seem to think that not having a pet is a good enough excuse
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