First there were none. Or none he could call his own, at any rate. His parents’, or, say, the family’s. He loved them desperately, but they weren’t his, not really, and so their names went unremembered on the marmoreal scroll of his heart.
First, then, most truly first, the small ones, the quick-dying fish, the restless hamsters. Blip, Babe, Razzy; Hamilton, Pendlehurst, Featherstonehaugh. Pile upon pile of wood shavings and bedding; plastic chests and cellophane streamers.
Then the cats, the dogs: Dazzy, Dodger, Doobie, Dusty. Winnie, Bela, Layla, Delta, Sir Mortimer Snerd, the Stupid One. Madeline, Margaret, Muscatine, Murgatroyd. Packs upon packs: Pumpkin, Misha, Pirate, Cloverfield, Hershey. Flann O’Brien, Finn MacCool, Inazuma. Wretched Disappointment (an ex-racer), 4 x 4, Neutrino, Rascal Fatts. Buffy, Faith, Hope and Sanguinity.
Then more slowly as his budget dwindled and eke his capacity. Mr. Mee. Tawny Daniels. Blightmange.
Still he kept the roll, like rosaries.
And at last: Sarahbelle the Forever Lonely, who survived.