Today I was up before the dawn, likely due to some suspicious skittering in the vents that I at first attributed to branches tapping at my window. My phone lit up on my nightstand: it was my gentleman caller, texting to say that he had made it home. In foggy delight that we were both somehow awake at 4:45, we chatted for a little bit. I panicked about the shuffling–a mouse, undoubtedly–and attempted to discern, with moral support via text, whether or not the little creature was confined to the vents or diving in and out of second grade spelling tests under my bed.
I read for a while, then, still Michael Perry’s Truck. After fifty pages of hunting tales and cab painting and descriptions that otherwise seemed not so far from what I know, having spent most summer weekends of my life in Wisconsin, I turned out the lamp.
My window lit a pale blue box against the dark, rodent-conquered room. I heard the wind pick up, an inhale preceding the hollow sound of millions of leaves brushing against one another. I could see the leaves move if I craned my neck, using the pillow for leverage. Somehow, being able to see the leaves even as I heard them made me think that I could possibly get back to sleep, mouse or no mouse. In the way we learn when we are very young, now that it was daytime, the demons had shrunk considerably.
There was a whine from the kitchen. Ruby, perhaps hearing the ruffle of pages turning, had decided to begin the morning ritual of whimper, pace, gate rattle. She’s very polite about it, even going so far as to adopt a look of, “Why, good morning! Fancy you being awake at this time, too! Shall we go for a romp outside, since we both happen to be up?” I let her outside, pulling on a fleece as I followed.
She bolted for the weeds at the edge of our yard, preferring this morning to do her business in private. I trudged up the driveway for the paper. Ruby came running back, orange plastic “log” in mouth. I tossed it for her a few times before she became distracted by the business of a neighborhood dog, deposited in a neat pile in the grass behind the garage. She was only coaxed away by my promise of breakfast.
After the panicked realization that we were both locked out of a sleeping house at six a.m., and after some–thankfully brief–fumbling for spare key, we both settled down in the kitchen again. Me with the thick bundle of paper, Ruby with a bowl full of kibble and another bowl of water which she sloshed into her food to create a textual masterpiece.
It’s six-thirty now. The mouse has gone back to his nest of old clothes in a corner of the laundry room. The sky has lightened enough to reveal another overcast, fifty-percent-chance-of-rain day. Ruby has settled back onto her large pillow, waiting for me to quiet down so she can commence her mid-morning nap. I think I’ll follow her example on that one; it’s much too early for me to be awake, anyway.