The Cold or the Stars?
By Christy Warren
Harriet stirred in her crate next our bed. I laid still, waiting to see if she will get up and want outside. She stepped out of her crate, stretching into a downward dog with a big yawn. Her head turned towards me, looking to see if I noticed. I waited for her to look away and I lifted my head to look at the clock on my nightstand. The time was 3:43 in the morning. I had just finally fallen asleep an hour ago. Harriet walked to the doorway of our room and again looked back. I pretended to be asleep so just maybe she wouldn’t engage with me.
Harriet’s nails clicked on the hardwood floor as she sauntered down the hallway. I desperately hoped she was just headed to the couch to sleep. The clicking stopped at the end of the hallway and went silent for several seconds. The clicking started again, heading back to our bedroom. She stopped in the doorway and looked straight at me. I continued to lay perfectly still hoping to somehow telepathically will my sassy English Cream Golden Retriever back to bed. She stared at me as if trying to will me to get up and let her outside. “rrRUGH!” she finally said.
I threw the covers back, sat up and whispered fuck me. I followed the accelerating clicks down the hallway. I opened the sliding glass door and Harriet shot by me, running off into the backyard. God dammit she doesn’t need to go pee. Some sort of woodland creature has aroused her senses. I rested my forehead against the cold glass door waiting for her to come back. The word “skunk” popped into my head. Shit. I slipped on the old pair of shoes that sit by the door for this very occasion. Wearing a t-shirt and thin shorts, I stepped into the cold air.
I walked across the patio with the almost full moon flooding the backyard with light. I saw my shadow and it struck me as magical. Cat Stevens began singing Moon Shadow in my head, the lyrics reframing tragedy into opportunity.
After gazing at the brilliant moon, I noticed my God it’s so quiet and a peace enveloped me. I didn’t dare yell her name or recall word “Hot Dog” and wake the neighbors. I walked down the gentle slope of our large backyard to fetch my sassy Harriet who has gone rogue. While she rummaged behind the bushes, I stood still under the large Oak trees. The quiet again captivated me. I felt my feet planted firmly on the ground and connect to right where I was. I deeply breathed in the cool quiet air, and I no longer felt the cold. I looked up towards the stars and through the tops of the Oak trees, Redwood trees and Maple trees. Their branches and leaves, painted in precise silhouettes against the sky.
Harriet finally popped out of the bushes, peed, and headed back towards the house. I followed her bouncing tail up the incline and onto the patio. I opened the slider and she shot into the house with the same gusto she shot out of it. As I felt the cold creeping through my t-shirt, I thought I am so thankful l get to crawl into a warm comfortable bed. I can’t even imagine having to spend this cold night outside. I paused and took in one more deep breath of the magnificent night. Harriet and I walked back down the hall, and crawled back into our warm, comfortable beds.