the calm before the storm

the sky holds its own burden. the air is close and still. the tempest is on its way. it's coming up the coast. the bugs keep in their lairs. is this the calm before the storm? trees let go their dewdrops. from high up, one plops into my coffee. the forest reeks dank with mildew. smellie chomps deer droppings, then drags her paws on running trails. i wonder if she feels the storm drawing near.

the back roads are mostly deserted. no sightings of my favorite usuals. no runner. no dog walker. no nice couple from the point. been missing them lately. wish we could commune. at the point, the tide is high and choppy. the sky begins to sprinkle. two sopping swimmers come ashore, tethered to bobbing neon buoys. i think they might be my neighbors. smiling, i do a u-turn. at the edge of a stretch dividing fields, a gaggle of canada geese stop and stare. i stop and stare, too. they're hesitant. what the hell are we all doing? outside my window, a hawk swoops along at forty miles an hour. it's keeping time with me. in a blink, i've lost him. easy come, easy go.

in the back seat, calvin yanks off his shoe and chews it. he's not quite himself. his cheeks are flushed like during certain seizures. it's day nine. a full moon. i keep expecting the fit to fall. i was awake last night for three hours. ended up switching beds. didn't really help at all.

at home, we traipse our millionth circuit between these four walls, making well-worn paths from room to room. little fingerprints smudge the walls. other surfaces are covered with drool. i try to wipe them down as i go. a window finally pried open gives neglected plants a chance to breathe. i've never seen their stems and fronds move. i guess they're alive after all.

we get outside before the storm. walk three doors to woody's old home. calvin tries dropping down. i brace him from doing so. lead him across the street. knock on bill and cathey's outside wall. they're home. they take us in. we teeter through their kitchen and living room. out the back door to their deck. there, my son looks suspicious, as if having a little seizure. cathey helps him down the steps. both with bare feet, she and bill escort us home. tell me to call them no matter what i might need. just in case. i feel taken care of. the world—this town—is my beloved home. in the calm before the storm.

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