I rise early, before the sun, shepherd Wolfie down the stairs, flip on the coffee and then walk out into the darkness in big, worn out boots. Wolfie wanders, sniffs, pisses. He sniffs some more. I do not hurry him. Nothing seems to be chasing me right now. Upstairs my wife sleeps peacefully. Out here I raise my head and sniff the air. I want to howl.
Back indoors, Wolfie leaps onto the couch and flops his head onto his paws and waits for me. I pour coffee, pick up my book, and fold myself next to him. His head on my thigh, I read for a solid hour, the light gradually coming up through the big windows. The white walls of the living room glow. His long, thin body curled against me, Wolfie twitches, running in his dreams. Later, he patters back and forth around his bowl, trying always to catch the best angle at which to eat. Next to him, I drink juice and gobble bread and fruit.
At the park everything is drenched in dew. I am not used to early morning fall sun whacking into my face and finding me in a field with a dog at my heels. I had grown accustomed to 36 years of bunker vision — artificially lit hallways, classes moving like mercury, slippery and fast, the days sliding by on rafts of essays and conferences and meetings and five performances a day given to audiences of teenagers. Each morning this week I have thought of others who are far away, no, not very far at all, but apart – friends still engaged with kids, friends closing their classroom doors and looking into all those faces. I miss them.
But if I were still in the classroom, then I would have missed leaning against Rick’s pickup and swapping stories and laughter yesterday afternoon after he had helped us finish our summer house project (Neighborhood Stories: Post 23). And this afternoon, instead of facing a probable meeting that would have caused me to daydream of escape and doodle stick men climbing cliffs away from crocodiles, I walked into the middle of a corn field and knelt among the stalks and, twelve years old again, played hide and seek with Wolfie. We saw a small fox. Wolfie went west. I hid. I heard the sawing of stalks, rose, watched the upper layers wave and stop and two whistles later, hunched down in a row, I watched Wolfie tunnel towards me, tongue out, eyes bright, a happy dog.
Today my skull began to crack open, and I felt threads of light slice in and just for a moment begin to show me the wealth to be found in the time that now has come.