Whole Trees in Motion, Inconvenience in Walking
According to the Beaufort Scale of Wind Force, a light breeze blows at five to seven miles per hour. Conditions on land are characterized as wind felt on face. Flags have not yet extended, though; that’s another category altogether.
We walk, Stanley several paces ahead and me quick-stepping to keep up. The leash stretches taut between us. It probably won’t snap. It can’t snap, right? This is what it’s made for. I sneak looks at the other people with dogs the same way I slide my eyes over to the women next to me in yoga class: tell me I am doing this right, tell me I am passing as one of you.
Stanley stops in front of a small girl in a stroller. They’re nearly the same height and she stiffens, putting her hands up in front of her shoulders like a tiny suspect. “Stanley,” I say. I hope I sound firm and commanding.
The girl’s father squats next to the stroller. He reaches out and scratches Stanley behind the ears. There is nothing to be afraid of, he shows her. “Your dog is beautiful,” the father says.
I cock my head at him, trying to see if he really means me. He looks back. He means Stanley.
“It’s not my dog,” I say as we continue on our way. It’s starting to smell like rain.
A strong breeze is wind between twenty-five and thirty-one miles per hour. Wires whistle. The scale tells us umbrellas are difficult to control.
We turn back on to Stanley’s street, having exhausted the temptation to get lost. I don’t know how long we’ve been gone or how long they usually walk him for, but he seems happy and I have nowhere else to be. There’s solace in playing pretend with tangible proof.
I wonder if when I leave Stanley, he’ll make the same face I do when I watch his owner go back to real life. Maybe he won’t let his nose droop, but his eyes will betray him with something desperate, the dog equivalent of blinking back tears while insisting you understand.
We sit on the lawn, watching the clouds darken as the grass ruffles around us. It’s the kind of green you pay someone else to create. Stanley puts his head in my lap, and I unhook his leash. His is the one I can undo.
At the first crack of thunder, Stanley tenses. “It’s okay,” I whisper. “It’s nothing to be scared of.” I touch his back with what I hope feels like reassurance, and the thunder cracks again. He jerks up and bounds past me before I can try to stop him. The rain starts, fat drops that quickly soak through my shirt.
I know nothing about dogs, about marriage. About dogs.
My favorite is the near-gale. Ranging from thirty-two to thirty-eight miles an hour, the near-gale wind is the speed before we get twigs and small branches blown off trees, the speed before which danger starts to lose its thrill.
Amy Rossi is an MFA candidate in fiction at Louisiana State University. You can find her work online, currently or forthcoming, in journals such as Monkeybicycle, Hobart, and the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and you can find her in a room by quoting Road House.