After marking her favorite spot next to the honeysuckle, Megan starts the short climb up the hill that is our backyard in the last moments of twilight as fireflies dance around her. Thinking she will cross those thirty feet fine without the aid of my flashlight, I turn from the deck rail and wait for her by the door. But her eyesight is poor, and she is easily confused. Good days and bad.
When she doesn’t appear on the deck, I run inside for my sandals and go out to the lawn and downhill with the flashlight, but she’s nowhere to be found. I check her favorite spot and then go uphill past the deck to another area that is part of her daytime patrol as a border collie, with no luck. Making a quick lap around the house, something that would take Megan a good ten minutes due to her reduced mobility, proves to be just as fruitless, so I go back inside for help.
My wife goes downhill, past the cleared lawn, to an area thick with brush, where Megan never goes, while I go out front to check the street. I hear her call out my name and rush to the back and head downhill, where she hears Megan’s tags rattling on her collar. I turn the light into the brush, and it cuts a line through the darkness that leads right to Megan, too weak to stand, lying behind a pile of broken branches thirty yards past her usual limits. The climb back up the hill is effortless for her, as I carry her curled up against my chest knowing her trips, both downhill and up, are numbered.
frail bodies glowing
lights seeming disembodied
from garden to grass in the night
life seems far too short at times