Everybody was asleep. The house was super sensitive when they all slept. The floor announced her movements, the water trickled, splatted, rushed. The kitchen cupboard creaked, even her body emitted unwanted sounds—breaths and groans, just like the house.
They’d grown old together, she and her house, weathered a lot, storms inside and out, and now they preferred to be alone.
She didn’t know which was worse: Mother, what do you do all day? You should get out more.
We’re coming for a week, the whole family, to keep you company.
They were there now, five of them asleep, girl, husband, children, one, two three—and the dog. The dog was not sleeping. The dog was twisting around her knees eagerly, licking her feet, whining at the door to go out. She’d have to go with him. The dog—what was his name—Romeo? Lear? Hamlet?—something Shakespearian—Iago. That was it, Iago the sly one, the traitor. Why hadn’t they chosen a hero’s name? It had been explained to her, something about confounding expectations, doing what nobody expected. Anybody could name a dog Othello, but Iago, well, then you had to think, didn’t you?
Why not name him Hitler?
She’d gotten the reaction she wanted. She smiled at the memory, slipped on her boots, pulled her parka over her bathrobe and stepped out the back door with Iago. The dog raced the perimeter of the yard, then did it again, slowly, an inspection tour, sniffing and smelling, looking for the right spot before squatting to pee.
Desdemona, she called. Time to go in.
2011 Kathleen Coskran