Sometimes when I hit the timer for JD Mader’s two-minute freewrites (or three- or four-minute freewrites, depending on the week), I have a seed of an idea, but mostly I just start typing and run with it. The first was inspired by my neighbor’s labradoodle, Wendell. He’s a therapy dog and one of the most gentle, mellow beings I’ve ever met. Just a look into his eyes makes me feel better some days.
The woman rings the bell at the same time every afternoon. I don’t even have to raise my snout from the floor; I can sense her approach, the tentative cadence of her sneakered feet. It’s slower and heavier than usual. That means an extra long walk, and I don’t mind. Maybe I’ll get to see the horses. The man answers the door and whispers my name. I get to my feet and shake the kinks out of my hind legs. Everything on the woman’s face turns down even though her voice sounds happy, but I can smell the sadness. The man hands her the leash and she kneels to me and clips it to my collar. I lick the side of her face and taste the tears. Yes, it’s going to be a long walk sort of day.
You walk into the house and it looks as if time stopped in 1972. Like everyone was in the middle of dinner, maybe eating granules of processed cardboard from an aluminum tray heated in the oven. They were watching Match Game or talking about Vietnam or arguing about something Walter Cronkite said; as a family they decided to get up and leave. They left the orange shag carpeting and the post-modern, Jetsons furniture; they left the wood paneling and the giant television with the tiny screen; they left the Swanson dinners, and the tater tots are long since cold stones of reconstituted space age. Even the car remains parked in the garage. It has fins and is a color not found in nature. No idea what happened to the family. Nobody did. The real estate agent turns to you, straightens her green blazer and raises her penciled brows. “So. It’s as-is, of course. You interested?”