From the kitchen, the portrait window framed the backyard. A row of saplings flanked a white archway that was a portal to the back-backyard, where the dogs pooped. They would run and leap over the two stepping stones, eager to make it to the fields that open out from our modest lot. The dense pine and oak forest bordered the fields.
In the backyard, I would build obstacle courses with my neighbor, maybe sister, or by myself. Careful construction of a balance beam. A stack of cinder blocks like a ziggurat. Sydney--our Australian Shepherd--would leap through a hula-hoop if baited with his tennis ball. The third monkey bar in from the slide was bent. I had slipped while running the course in bare feet, landed luckily on the back of my thigh. My dad cringed at the picnic table and asked if I was okay.
Last night, I went to my parents' house to eat dinner and sit and talk. They had nothing too exciting to report. A trip to Connecticut this weekend, in lieu of visiting for Thanksgiving.
A quiet thanksgiving here will be nice.
I agreed, remembering that I would be in Meadville this year and not with them. Even quieter.
My car had been fitted with new tires the week before. I needed to have the lugs retightened. Monro requires it after one drives fifty miles post-labor, as insurance. If a wheel spins off around a turn and someone dies, they would be responsible without that retightening session. It's probably just coincidence when a wheel disconnects anyway.
The mechanic tossed me the keys and asked about the car's performance.
Pretty good, but I'm selling it. I've had bad luck with cars my whole life. Well, no, I don't believe in luck.
He looked at me, bored. I sat down in the bucket seat, looked at the CRASS and THRAK buttons above my rearview. Talismans. The mechanic was familiar. Photogray glasses on a broad nose and a blonde mane that gave him that liony, Ron Perlman look.
At the train station, I typed out a few lines of a boring blog entry. A man stepped up to the platform, holding hands with a girl. He kept looking back, to check on her. They both had blond hair, white trainers, and outfits of denim. She looked about seventeen, short and slight. He maintained a teenagedness that defied his gruff voice. His face was pock-marked and starting to wrinkle. Hands stained with work. I was surprised when they kissed on the lips, with tongue.
As I pulled out of the parking lot, I decided to go to the theatres. I drove the short distance, parked, bought my ticket, picked the best seat in the nearly empty theatre, lowered the springy seat, sat, and unbuttoned my coat. Someone picked the corresponding seat across the aisle. I glanced over. Meghan from work.
Together, our cubicles are symmetrical. We talk over the partition without seeing each other. Never volunteering the information, our place as the office vegetarians has been discussed several times at lunch.
She was there alone, too. Said she didn't have a TV, lived by herself, and wanted to get out for a little bit. I laughed, made the same claims, and asked if I could sit next to her. Left a seat open between us, naturally.
On the way back to my parents', I fumbled with my cell phone. Head down for too long, I looked up at the obstacle: a roadside washing machine. I swerved, successfully. A hotness swelled in my chest.
Again, fucking with the phone, I spotted a fawn just in time. She slipped on the wet asphalt, frantically scurrying to the side of the road. I pumped the brakes. Suspiring, my lungs like bellows, I felt the heat in my ribs. Just like on the monkey bars.
At the house, Sydney looked old. He was coiled on an area rug. His fur was mangy. His eyes had a bluish sheen from cataract. I petted him and he grumbled--a little louder when I stopped--and my dad told him to shut up. But I knew what he wanted. Kneeling on the carpet, I sat on my heels. Syd got up, surprisingly jaunty. He pushed his head into me, turning a slow somersault. He got up and did it again. He wagged his tail and still growled a little, confused. His legs wouldn't propel him through the hula-hoop, but he'd probably try. The old dog with the old tricks.