Till It’s Gone

She would be sitting there every day in the morning when he walked past, glaring, as if daring him to allow his dog onto her lawn. During the summer she would be outside on the porch, in an elongated hanging swing covered in dark, faded blankets that flopped tiredly over the back. When it was colder, she would be inside in the recliner, facing the street with a critical eye.

He was always tempted to take his dog off the leash – just to see what she would do. Would she swing the broom he could see tucked away in the corner of the porch? Would she sputter down the stairs and spew angry words from her pinched face?

But he never did. Instead he would smile and nod his head in greeting, then continue on to the nearby park. His eyes would linger on the drooping grass and overgrown weeds, but he never paused.

Every day her face would remain the same. She would sit there, unmoving except for her narrowed eyes. Perhaps, he mused, her face had frozen in such an expression, and she was incapable of changing it.

But he was disproved of this notion when on one rainy morning he smiled and nodded, and for a moment her brows relaxed, the lines around her mouth seemed to lessen, and her head seemed to jerk slightly, a stiff motion, as if she hadn’t oiled her joints in many years. Her eyes seemed to glitter, and he could not figure out why today out of all days they made his heart heavy.

The next day she was gone. He stopped in front of her house. The porch was empty, and so was the window inside. He waited for a few minutes, but she never appeared. So he walked on.

He did the same the day after, and the day after that, but she never reappeared. And yet he couldn’t help but smile and nod with distant eyes whenever he walked passed, not once letting his dog off the leash.

The grass continued to grow and the weeds began eating at the pavement.

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