Last Seen With

The cats spend the day outside killing, then come in for their canned food. I stood in the garden watering, having the sense something was wrong, and noticed a small rabbit on its side with a gash in its neck. I thought about getting a bag to put it in but it flinched, still alive. And so my mind considered doing the right thing by putting it down, and I imagined my options (rock, shovel) but wasn’t man enough for either, so I went inside and continued my DeLillo book, about 9/11.

Poets have a way of saying things unlike ordinary people, which is why I love Bukowski for the line, The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over The Hills. 

And so it goes, that my family is gone now to Germany and I realized today, the thought of them leaving is worse than the act itself.

Leading up to it I began to mope and count the days and begrudge the fact the week was almost over because that meant they were leaving, and I dropped them at the airport on the curb, and one of the carry-ons fell over, and Lily, only nine, struggled with her car seat and her hard-bound book and I thought maybe it was too much for them, but I got back in the car and pulled away and didn’t have a chance to look back for a wave, but hurried off to work instead.

And now that they’ve left, I’ve become the strange old man I would be without them, circling the house adjusting things, remembering who I used to be, which isn’t altogether good.

I found a lawn chair in the back yard, the dog and a beer, and sat there blinking at the clouds, hearing the birds volley back and forth.

Charlotte, who’s six, always gives Dawn a memento when Dawn’s leaving town, “Something to remember me by.” So I did the same for Charlotte, and handed her a small, wooden turtle with a bobbly head. And I pulled Lily aside and asked she try real hard not to let Charlotte get on her nerves and fight, so as to make things easier for Dawn. I had the same talk with Charlotte, but don’t think she heard me.

They announced a re-org for my group at work today, and the execution of it was sheer grace: our director repurposed a weekly department meeting, announced the changes, smiled and said how good she felt about it all, that we would then break out into smaller individual groups in separate conference rooms to ask questions in a smaller setting, and reconvene a half hour later with our new leader and the larger team.

There were no seats left when I got back for the big meeting because our summer intern asked some weighty questions that couldn’t be answered quickly in our break-out session, which was the smart-intern thing to do if you’re an MBA student but pissed me off because it made us late, and when we got there there wasn’t a comfortable way to fit in the room since all the seats were taken, so instead I just sat on a table by the window and tried to look natural, engaged.

And now my fantasies of leaving work are as foreign and unreal as the job itself, what happened a few years ago when we bought this house and I’d pause when I backed the car out of the driveway and wonder what was happening, combing the alley by my office, counting the days to the weekend.

It’s the thought of things that’s always harder than the things themselves, like the family leaving and the feeling of being alone, or putting a dying animal out of its misery, or getting fired and having to pack up my things. And it’s the thought of things that seems to be better too, what words can do to make pictures, when the days run away like wild horses over the hills.

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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6 Responses to Last Seen With

  1. rossmurray1 says:

    Beautiful. Tied that up nicely.
    Unrelated, but possibly not, we just painted one of our downstairs rooms, the first time since we moved there 19 years ago. Gross, but not the point. It’s the exact same room but foreign, and I see the room for the first time in a long time. And, yes, the thought of it was more daunting than the doing.
    Enjoy the oddness of being alone.


    • pinklightsabre says:

      Hey Ross! Glad you liked it, thanks. Congrats on getting your room painted. It’s similar with gardening, or Monday mornings…or decapitation; the thought is worse. Thanks for the Paul Auster reco again. Signing off now.


  2. ksbeth says:

    yes, i think you are so right. the anticipation of an emotional experience, good or bad, is sometimes more intense than the experience itself. but you said it better…..


  3. Don’t forget to feed the dog, and the cats, too.


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