(Location while writing--Winchester, TN Easter Sunday.)
14 April Smartt, TN
It is in the high 80's. I am not ready. The heavy winter coat that I have carried since the beginning is put in a box that I found on the side of the road. A few miles later my friend is delivered to the post. I do a happy dance inside. I expect my pack to float now. It doesn't. In two miles I have forgotten that I have reduced my burden. That is the nature of a house on your back.
On a flat that offered nothing but a saloon, I emptied a cold bottle of beer at the bar. Beer was cheaper than water. Silently I gave thanks to again know what cold was like rolling against my throat. Bars were never my medium. I say little, then wander back into a sun that is so bright I can hear nothing else.
This is how love comes sometimes. I was putting pace to sticks and boots with the beer happy in my head fumbling my progress. There she was reaching for my eyes. After a greeting I kept walking, but still there she was. She was beautiful. Was she alone. I looked all around. We were alone, except for the road that continues with the sound of a large hive until the sun calms the troops.
Maybe she was maybe two years old. She looked to be a pure bred spaniel, yellow and white. This is how I dreamed it would be. Having no time to train a dog, I believed the walk would give me a dog from the bounty of the homeless population this country holds. Already I had encountered many dogs. None had this look in their eyes. Ginger wanted to be with me from the instant we met. Ginger needed me too. She was always in my eyes, making me melt for her while she smiled and watched. Miles passed quickly as I talked to her. Ginger kept at me with those eyes like she believed in every word I was saying. She was a bee that found me to be a flower she couldn't surrender. My pace is sound at close to four miles an hour. There were no complaints. As I plodded on, Ginger checked out pipe-drains, bumps in the grass, and any bags that were thrown from moving cars that might hold a treat. It appeared trash was her main staple. This was ho my new love was used to feeding herself. Ginger was also as hungry as I was to be needed, and wanted. As soon as I spoke to her in a kind voice she was teathered to my leg.
As we moved into the day that nolonger seemed too hot, or too bright, I thought of camp. Where would she sleep. "Alright, I'll share my dinner. She looks like she'd enjoy rice. No, No. I have that tuna in a pouch I've carried for a week." On and on I moved over thoughts that were just as beautiful as the last to my darling friend. If my words moved to a small pause, Ginger would amble ahead ten or twenty feet, explore until the record began again. As soon as I started to rattle on I had ears that were kind.
Sometimes traffic would stall. For a minute or two you could march a band across the road. For a minute or two. Ginger knew the drill. It seemed to be her life before me. When a pause came in the roar of cars, my new friend would check the for side for treats, or treasures. I hated this, and yelled at her. Though she sat squarely in my eyes when I talked to her, my yells were feathers falling in a forest she couldn't see. Safely returned, life returned to normal until a few hours passed and she thought of the other side again. This time I yelled at her until I hurt my own ears after she ran out directly in front of a state trooper that was heading a line of cars at 65 mph. Great. I don't want police attention for a dog that loves me, but I have no legal right to. The swarm of cars continue on, to include the police. Thankfully.
This is when I let my mouth say things, if heard by another, can't be taken back. I was scared for Ginger, and furious. I didn't want to feel this worry about losing anything. As I thought about how I could bandana tie a lead to her, I told her how she was going to get me in trouble. " You know, you would not have been my first pick." I hurt when I said it for I had mis-used those words before.
As I hit myself inside for misfiring my mouth, traffic opened next to us. Ginger was off because a dog across four lanes barked at us. I was still mostly inside my head. I knew that Ginger was gone again but I didn't want to drive myself crazy because of a dog that just arrived in my life today. "I will make a lead. I will see...maybe that is her real home with that dog. I can't believe I am so caught up in.................................."
The horn came first removing all the fog of conversation in my head, then the sound of heavy brakes hopping desperate to hold road turned me around. I watched the tractor trailer take her, as my own death came up in me. When the first set of duals went over her, she was still getting her forend up with that "I love life" grin still on her face. Then the other sets of tires took all of her days, and was Ginger was gone. There were cars still. I do not remember them, or how I kept my life as I ran to her. There I stood above her with no air in me. By the scruff of the neck I pulled her to the grass for I dare not lift her, while still believing still that she would remain as one. Having no shovel, or even a place to bury her, being house to house as far as I could see, I left her to the grass. A man that owned the dog that drew her across the road saw me look up. He dropped his head mercifully, and continued to drag his silent dog to the leash that dangled from the barn. My hands went to her head and neck now. My words came down to her to ease any lingering that may be between flesh and dust. "Please, remember her," is all that I could pray.
I was across the road again. Twenty feet later I was sitting against a fence with all of my world pouring through my hands that clawed at my face. I'd blow hard bresths. Harder. It is no use. My guts are punching my heart. There is no breathing. Feet in my head are kicking out their hurt. Divorce. Words. Lose. Leaving. Death pouring out as a bruise.
Miles and hours later I am still blowing out my breaths. Noone will carry me into the woods where I am certain I will see too much again in dream. I write more words to you. To a silly book I keep running, wringing my hands so as not to wet paper. What have I learned? Is this sting in the air all for me?
My earlier thoughts about dreams to come, come true. I even wake and look for Ginger, the quick way you do when you forget that your guest changed her mind and went home just before bed. I dream about Alexcia then, and words. There are feathers falling everywhere, and I am hearing old words for the first time.
I leave the Trail Of Tears knowing loss in leaving.