Nathaniel pauses to let the dog take a
leak. He inventories the Johnson's trash heaped curbside: portable
hose cart; giant snowflake, weeping glitter; American flag, one of
those jobs you wave at Memorial Day parades with a kid sitting upon
your shoulders kicking innocent feet.
Last week, while his wife dithered at
the window and the house shuddered, the paving crew scraped away the
street's dingy gray outfit, scooping it into a truck and carting it
off before returning with an outfit of black, slowly ironing it into
place before moving on. An improvement for sure. Bound to increase
the value of the house.
Fat raindrops fall heavily. The wind
picks up. Withered leaves gather like they're at some goddamn
convention, huddling against the curve of the curb. He smells
earthworms; imagines them meaty and white beneath the leaves.
Over on Betsy's front porch, a skeleton
sits with his hands neatly folded in his lap and Nathaniel knows that
within two years, that skeleton will be tossed upon the curb with the
other discards of life and this makes him feel sick and ashamed. He
passes decorations stretched over mailboxes like overcoats: skeletons
and candy corn and smiling ghosts.
He feels queer, he tells his wife,
hanging the leash neatly upon the hook in the garage. His wife assess
him; tells him his color is off and oughtn't he lie down for a bit?
She fusses in and out of the bedroom, pressing a warm hand against
his forehead, asking him too many questions.
He thinks about the last time he spoke
with his son. How he'd stared, unaccepting. He falls asleep to the
raindrops thrumming upon the roof.
He wakes before the sun; clips the
leash on the dog's collar and steps outside. Crisp air stings his
lungs. Steam rises from the dog's urine. Streetlights shimmer on the
wet asphalt like looking glass tears.
He wonders if it's too early to call
Wonders if it's possible to reclaim
Labels: fiction Trifecta Writing Challenge