Jackson’s a chocolate lab. I brought him home from the no-kill this morning. I’ve always wanted a dog, but I did it more for Wylie. We stand under the willow with the water running out the hose, Jackson,
Wylie and I. Dandelions cover the lawn: a yellow rebellion.
The winter following their son’s death, Mr. Kelly’s wife became absorbed by the tracks that ran in back of their house. At any given hour in the night, he’d hear her in the next room, their son’s old room where she now slept, shuffling through dresser drawers. He could picture her picking out worn jeans, her pink sweater with knobby wool beaded around the hem, sifting through dainty socks for a thick orange pair. She’d try to walk downstairs unnoticed, but he was already awake and the third stair from the bottom always gave her away.
She knew she didn’t have long before her husband found out about the debt, how deep the roots of it went, so she pushed for a trip, naming the kids in the twins’ third grade class who’d already been overseas. She knew it was then or never, and appealing to his competitive side always worked.
Patti took the bar manager job the day her divorce from Jimmy became official. That morning, she’d let her cat out to pee and then bent down and picked up the day’s newspaper, moist with dew, and brought it inside. Over coffee and toast, she scanned the want ads. Her job as art teacher was over for the summer and she couldn’t imagine the next two and a half months with nothing to distract her. The ad for a manager’s position in her new town required only that she like people. And she did. For the most part.