She woke to the sound of a dog barking. Not her dog. She had a cat, not a dog. Cats were independent, took care of themselves, and yet were soft, not all panting bones. You could wrap yourself around a cat, or rather, hold still while the cat did its getting settled dance, snuggled in, purred, let you pet it.
Dogs drooled, panted, wagged, jumped up and barked, as this one was. She opened her eyes. The dog was still barking.
She got up, parted the shade to look out the back. No dog in sight, just the shrill bark bark bark. Must be a small dog. She closed the window, but she could still hear it.
Put on her robe, brushed her teeth, started the coffee. The dog was still barking through the closed windows.
She opened the front door to get the paper. Dog still barking, a little louder, a little more desperate, but the higher note persisted, just short of a howl. Maybe it was caught somewhere.
She closed the door, poured the coffee, unfolded the paper, nothing to read on the front page, nothing she cared about.
The dog was still barking. She leapt up, slipping on the newspaper she’d thrown in front of the chair, down on one knee, then up, out the front door with a section of newspaper rolled up in her left hand, the cup of coffee in her right. Maybe she’d throw the coffee at the dog. She didn’t know.
Around the side to her own back yard—fenced yard, no dog in sight—but she still heard barking, barking, barking.
She sat in the lawn chair, took a sip of coffee, lukewarm, unrolled the section of the paper she’d grabbed—the Business section: “Best Buy Out of Europe.”
“Who cares?” she yelled and began to read the article out loud and loudly, pitching her voice to match the timbre of the bark, pacing her cadence to the bark, bark, bark, and gradually, slowly, the numbing words and the regular beat calmed her and the dog until both were silent and at rest, if not peace.
© 2013 Kathleen Coskran*
* Inspired by "Another Reason I Don't Keep a Gun in the House" by Billy Collins