Light filters through the leaves, refracting in the rain and curving around the limbs laden with pears. She walks between the windows, pulling the sheer panels with her, occasionally checking the driveway. She checks her reflection and smoothes a wrinkle that is not there, the linen cool against her skin. The dog raises its head from the window seat; metal tags jingle. She thinks of wind chimes and wonders if that would keep the birds away from the pears. She glances out the window then back at the clock. Still mulling the idea of wind chimes she loops the leash between her fingers and leans to find the hook on the dog's collar. She moves away from the ecstatic paws and opens the door. The dog races into the rain while she struggles to open the umbrella. A wide canopy of red splashes against the gray sky and she thinks herself in a Monet. She starts to close the door to the house then stops, leaving it open to move with the breeze. The dog runs behind the hedges and tries to find a dry spot. Some water sweeps under the umbrella, smattering her skirt. She pats the wetness as her eyes return to the driveway. A neighbor pulls his dog over the sidewalk, tsking for it to hurry up. She hopes he will not notice her standing at the edge of the house and wishes she had chosen a different umbrella. He notices, waving a hand upwards, tapping the edge of his black umbrella.
"Fine day isn't it!" he says.
"Fine day," she confirms.
"It's always like dogs to want to do their business when it rains. Isn't it?" He chuckles and starts to walk up the driveway.
She holds back a sigh and nods.
"Why are you so dressed up? You both going somewhere tonight?"
"Just to dinner," she says.
"Good as anything. Special occasion?"
"No." she says, pulling the dog from beneath the peony bushes.
"I remember what that was like," he says, smiling, "Wanting to get home, so I'd sneak out early. My wife waiting, peeking out the curtains. Those were some times… Hey, look at that! You have about a bushel of pears on the ground over here."
He walks to the base of the tree and smacks the trunk with his palm.
"They're everywhere! You could can these – eat them all winter. Spiced pears." he says and rocks to his heels.
She stares at the pears, she didn't remember them falling. The neighbor is still talking about the fruit when his dog flies into the bushes. He runs behind yelling and tsking again, then waves goodbye.
She walks through the grass skimming her toes between the blades until her sandals slip on her feet. The umbrella waivers and falls to her side, rain slides over her hair and, for a moment, touches her face. She feels each small drop open against her skin and stares at the empty expanse of their driveway. Then she rights the umbrella and pulls the dog into the house.
She runs her fingers over the phone, considers calling but then realizes he is not that late. The air, cool and damp, pushes the door open until it cracks the wall. She waits a moment, savoring the heaviness of the air. The dog quivers in the breeze, its ears perking with interest. She thinks they should open the windows, it couldn't be healthy to leave everything so closed and quiet. He would never agree, but for one afternoon… She checks the driveway again before moving to crack the window that frames the pear tree.
The sandals bite into her toes and she starts to sit before pausing, considering her skirt. She looks at the linen and then, sighing, falls into the chair, tossing her legs over the arm-rest. The fabric layers upon itself and presses into her thighs. Silence.
She glances at the clock one last time before looking out the window and curling deeper into the chair. Each day she watches the fruit swell and soon their ripeness will grow rancid. The minutes fall into each other and now she has a bushel of minutes resting beneath her folded body. She pulls clips from her hair and drops them as she closes her eyes.
The door cracks the wall again and she wakes as he walks into the room. The darkness highlights the foamy curtains as they swing on the evening breeze.
"Hey love, sorry I'm late. Work was crazy. How was your day?" he says, shaking his head and dropping his coat on the desk.
She feels his fingers move through her hair.
"What about dinner? Did you make anything?" he says, leaning to kiss her forehead. "You know, try not to leave these windows open. All this rain makes the wood swell."
She hears him walking down the hall. The dog is still watching her as she moves to the window. Pulling the white panels around her back she presses her hips into the wooden frame and watches the tree sway in the moonlight. The wind gusts through the window, filling the curtains and her hair. She takes a slow breath then, her fingers tight against the sill, opens the window wide.
Laura Havice resides in Northern Florida, somewhat close to the ocean, although not nearly close enough. Central Pennsylvania holds a corner of her heart and provides the skyline for a collection of short stories. Her work has appeared in Fiction Fix - North Florida's Literary Journal and The Osprey - Journal of Ideas and Inquiry. She also has received and University of North Florida's Fiction Award
Copyright 2005, Laura Havice. This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.