I don’t know how much time I sit on the back porch. Honestly, I set myself in that rocking chair and just stop thinking. The fence is white and clean, plastic stakes that move in a straight line to the back of my yard and cut across leaving eventually a small, but perfect square.

The grass grows so thick, it hardly sticks out between the posts, instead growing upwards, like the hairs of a green brush. It’s all so perfect. When I sit, I don’t have anything else to worry about.

Warm days like these, early in the summer, are thick and still. You sit in shorts and short sleeves and feel like you’re wrapped safely in a blanket. The harsh memories of winter fade away.

My porch is a good three and a half feet off the ground. The floorboards never creak. The steps have no guard post. From there, I watch my dog Cooper wander from one corner to the other as though he’s never been back here before.

Cooper’s the best dog on the block. He’s playful but not rough, obedient but still curious.

He’s the only dog on the block, actually. But he’s still pretty great.

There used to be all kinds of dogs on this block, but mostly that yipping, nasal sounding sort of dog. The neighbors next door used to have this dog, when it barked, it sounded almost like a bird. The sort of bird that sings at night.

A few of the other dogs… actually, all the other dogs, sort of disappeared over the years. But Coop was the best then and he’s the best now.

When he started to dig, just a few feet back and a feet right to the dead center of the lawn, I didn’t really care. Dogs are dogs, man. He’s never dug a hole before. Why get upset that he was giving it a try?

Coop dug and dug, kicking back long blades of grass, then dark red soil. Maybe someone else would have been upset. I just thought, “Man… that’s good looking soil.”

Then he started to kick back sand. It didn’t really stand out at first. But it was black sand, in coarse granules. Black, volcanic grains, with a sparkle here and there.

Even that didn’t really catch my attention.

Cooper stopped digging.

He stood over the hole, admiring his work, dipping his head down into it.

A breeze pushed softly against my knee. It washed up my leg and into my pants, where the cool, biting temperature woke me a bit. Over the fence, I could see the wind blow the leaves in the tree. But as the leaves lift and fell with the breeze, I could see they were blowing in the opposite direction of what I was feeling.

At the far end of the yard, the long blades blew away.

But at the base of the stairs, the blades blew toward me.

Cooper sat silently over his hole. Soft flurries were blowing upwards, past his face, lingered in the air and landed in different directions around him.

That dog was fixed on something.

Through the hole, I could hear… Not echoing, as though through a tunnel, but clear as through a porthole, a yipping.

Almost like a bird.

Published by Patrick Healy

Writer. Artist. Menace.

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