Black water like oil is pouring out of a drainpipe onto the pavement. Sweet, warm laundry steam engulfs a front porch. There are little islands where everything is golden and still under the streetlamps.
Approaching the municipal park at the end of the block, there are deer on the empty ball field. One of them flickers her tail in warning. They see me all the time. I tell them, "Hello," and the buck snorts at me and stares with his antlers held high in the outfield lighting.
This isn't quite city living. It is too cold for what I'm wearing.
I walked this way when I was pregnant. I had to stop halfway up the hill to breathe. I cursed myself for not being more able. I didn't know how I was going to do it. I couldn't imagine going through another birth. I couldn't imagine getting to where we are, now.
We walked this way on Halloween. It rained for trick or treating. I asked my husband what happened when it rained. Would they cancel the night?
He laughed and said, "Don't you remember having an awesome costume and having to put a raincoat over it?" And then a few moments later he remembered I didn't celebrate Halloween as a kid. I never went trick or treating. "Oh yeah..." he says.
"Thanks for rubbing it in," I say. It's only a joke. My mom was there wearing cat's ears and blinking glasses. Everything is a joke, now.
My parents are separated and in their fifties. They live with other people. My dad's girlfriend is dying of cancer. I don't even know them.
We see them on Christmas and once this past summer when Scouty and I camped in their part of the state. She's dying and she lives with my dad and I can't imagine this. I can't imagine how he is everything she needs to not feel afraid, but I don't know her.
She told me that, last summer, a doctor told her, "This is it." He said that she had a month or two to live. She started to sell her things and empty out her house. A few months went by and she wasn't any sicker. Another doctor told her she might live for ten years.
I wonder what that would be like, to lose everything and get it back to hold for a few minutes or years. I think maybe her story is the saddest and greatest thing I've ever heard.
The chipped manger scene my father painted is somewhere in my brother's attic. In the crawlspace of my childhood bedroom. I doubt I will ever be inside of that house again.
photo by horia varlan
PS. I linked up with: