Thursday, May 19, 2011

fire train

Betty Ann

Fire train rumbles by, waking me up from a dream about a dog. That dog was crying cause he couldn't find his supper dish. He was rooting around the kitchen floor, sure he had it there a while ago, but now it was gone. His mournful little whine was the sound of my dream, slipping rapidly away as my eyes come open.

I don't have a dog.

My nightgown is sticking to me, like my hair to my forehead. A full moon lights up the bedroom and I see that Frank hasn't come back yet. I look at the wind-up clock sitting on the table. It's 12:11 a.m. Well, maybe he went to drink some beers with his buddies. That's alright.

The smell of something rotten drifts into my nose. I should have taken that garbage out back. I sit up, swing my legs over the side of the big brass bed and feel around the floor for my slippers. My right foot finds a slipper. Now where is - there. I stand up, feeling an ache in my lower back. I lay one hand against my lower back and dig in a bit with my fingers as I shuffle through to the kitchen.

Sure enough, that smell is last night's fish supper. The heat has gotten to it and it's smelling up the place. I draw the bag up out of the plastic trash can and pull the ties to close it up tight. I tie those in a knot and open the back door. Out on the porch, I listen as the last of the train clanks around the bend and fades away. The big outdoor trashcan is just a few steps away and I head that way with the bag. I'm setting the bag down in the can when I see him.

He's taken a folding lawn chair and carried it down to the side of the lake. I can't tell if he is sleeping or just sitting. I call out to him, quiet-like. "Frank?" He doesn't move. I take a few steps in his direction. I speak a little louder. "Frank?" He turns his head towards me. "Hey, Baby." He reaches out a hand to me, beckoning me to come closer. I walk towards him. When I get there, I take his hand and he squeezes, but he is staring out over the water. He's still dressed in the clothes he had on when he left the house a while ago.

"What are you doin out here, Frank?" I ask him, worried he's still angry about the words we exchanged at the supper table. It was a stupid fight and I'm sorry that I brought the subject up at all.

Out on the lake, a fish jumps up and splashes back into the water. Maybe the moon has fooled that fish into thinking it's daytime. Frank pulls me over until I'm standing in front of him. A welcome breeze blows lightly across our bodies. The night sounds are all around us. I hear a dog barking way away from us. Is that why I was dreaming about a dog? Frank looks at my face and smiles. "I love you.", he says, and I watch as one tear leaks out of the corner of his eye and slides down his face.

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