Warm tea in one hand, Precious’s leash in the other, Franny wandered the streets of her neighborhood. She remembered her first walk with Marilyn, the day after the birthday party for Penelope, yes, that was her name, the day Franny had a hangover from the wine and beer and music and wondering what was going to happen to her in this town. She remembered the day she followed the strains of cowboy music and poetry, every story of every beloved horse bringing tears to her eyes.
She remembered leaning into the spring wind, wondering if she would ever get used to it. On the clear fall afternoon, a leaf or two left on a big chestnut tree moved a little. As if the twenty and thirty mile per hour gusts of spring were an old joke, the kind an ancient uncle would tell at family gatherings, the kind of joke you heard so often you laughed only because you loved your ancient uncle.
Precious’s need to sniff, kick leaves, and pee slowed Franny down a bit. But not much. She’d always been a slow walker, and today she needed nothing more than to be under the beautiful blue sky, feeling the warmth of the sun on her hair dissolve when their path took them through shade, crunching leaves underfoot, sipping tea, and remembering.
Each house they passed showed a familiar face. Very little in town felt strange any more, except this one. Without quite realizing it, they were in front of Marilyn’s old house. This house felt strange, or maybe eerie. Precious excitedly sniffed her old front path, strained on her leash. This was still home, for her, although the little dog never complained about living with Franny.
Out of the bright blue sky, with a suddenness that alarmed her, dark decisions loomed. Franny couldn’t stay in her apartment forever, not with the dog. But she hated moving, and she hated even more the idea of having to choose a new living situation. Her temporary teaching job, although more secure than anything she’d had in the last year, was still temporary. Health benefits, retirement, these needed to be planned for. A dentist. Franny would need to find a new dentist soon.
Overwhelmed, Franny needed to get moving, and she tugged on Precious’s leash. “Come on, sweetie. Let’s go.”
The scruffy little dog whined quietly, a sort of canine “see you soon” to her old yard, trees, pathway. Franny turned to head down the street.
“Hello there.” The voice was kind, soft, and deeply familiar. Franny’s heart gave a little lurch in her chest. “Hi, little pooper.”
Leo knelt to scratch the ears of a very happy Precious.