She stood there peering out over the river through Bran’s plate glass windows at all the nests, arms folded defensively across her chest, wondering what kind of perils an average osprey must navigate on an average day. They seemed reasonably clever, building them the way they did on top of the channel markers, right in the middle of the river. The better to snap up a clueless watery feast as it swims past, reasoned Lucy.
“Opportunists,” she muttered, with only Charley there to hear her. “Bet your well pump isn’t broken.”
The windows really needed cleaning, she saw now for the first time; funny she’d never noticed. Cleaning: a chore that required water. And so did brushing one’s teeth, or showering, or flushing the toilet. “I wish I were an osprey,” Lucy announced directly to Charley, who sat at her feet wagging her tail enthusiastically at this notion, as if to say, SO-DO-I-WHAT’S-AN-OSPREY. Lucy watched the dog hair flying aloft all around her.
“I could vacuum, at least, but now we need a game plan, friend: I need a shower, and you need fed and watered, and not too long from now it’ll be dark outside.”
Lucy heard another car engine chugging up her long drive and stepped outside the door with Charley on her heels. It was her friend Susanna, driving her impossibly old Toyota, a veritable rust bucket. “Now here is someone you’ll be tickled to see,” she said to Charley, who had already sprinted to the car and now levitated and placed her massive paws on the driver’s door. “Charley, DOWN!” Lucy had cupped her hands around her mouth to create a megaphone, to no effect at all.
Susanna pushed open the car door and Charley disappeared behind it, the tip of her beautiful tail the only indication a dog was standing there.
“Charley, come here, silly girl!” Lucy admonished her dog, but Charley was positively giddy to see her old shelter friend and clearly had her own agenda. “I’m sorry about her toenails on your car, Sues.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty worried about damage to my car. Charley looks gorgeous, by the way, and how about those ears? She’s a damn sight better looking than the last time I saw her. Yes you are, beautiful thing, aren’t you? You sure do clean up well, good girl.” Susanna had cupped Charley’s face and was ruffing her up on the cheeks while the dog returned her affection in kind with sloppy kisses. “You, on the other hand….” Susanna spoke directly to Lucy.
“You chose a perfect time to drop by: my well pump’s shot,” quipped Lucy. “I can offer you exactly nothing except a cold beer. Not even a pot to piss in.”
“I got tired of waiting for an invitation. When will you have your pump fixed, girlie?”
“I’m still processing this shit day. Maybe next week, maybe the week after. I’ll need to dip into my reserves for this one, and there’s not much reserve left in my reserve. Or resolve: I think I may be running out of resolve. And I need a shower.” Lucy was tired and could feel hot tears of frustration welling up in her eyes, a knee-jerk reflex which made her angry. And the angrier she grew, the more freely the tears flowed. Soon she could feel her shoulders begin to shake, and finally she relented helplessly to something much bigger than herself and this silly inconvenience and collapsed on her knees in heavy sobs. Charley flew to her side, gravely concerned, and attempted to insinuate her long nose between Lucy’s hands and her filthy face. Now she felt dizzy with the weight of the world floating around her, like the dog hair and detritus had moments earlier, and then felt the relief, somehow, of a monumental epiphany of the sort that often emerges at such moments: she’d bottled up so much emotion, that had nothing to do with well pumps or water heaters or failing rooftops, but was about so much more, and that only now came exploding out of her.
Susanna embraced Lucy’s shoulders and pulled her upright so she was standing. She offered a corner of her T-shirt for Lucy to dry her face. “How about you go inside and grab a few things, and get Charley’s leash. You’re coming to my place, and you’ll stay there as long as you need to. C’mon, now, get it together—you’re upsetting the dog. Anyway, betcha I have better beer than whatever pissy-tasting brew you have in that old fridge.”
Lucy squinted into the stale western sunlight in time to observe some ancient-looking bird en route to some unknown destination.