Excerpt from Chapter – “Reading Lessons”

Published February 28, 2017

Ray started school and could only come on the weekends. He
might miss several, then come for two in a row, both days.
The weather had to be dry so he could travel on the bike. There
was no plan, no discussion; he would just arrive at midmorning
and he and the dog Tommie would find each other with an elaborate
greeting—regardless if it had been three weeks or one night.

With each visit Alice came more quickly. She met him on the
porch. They would talk while Ray waited for Tucker, who rarely
remained in the yard. Alice began taking care to know just where and
how long in absence her husband might be. Ray sat with the dog on
the toe of the steps. Her feelings of stress began to relax: like a never
known leisure creeping in from the side. She found herself also waiting,
without hurry. She began to lean on the porch post and carefully
absorb his presence, listening to an outer voice and movement,
knowing his want for an eager companion—a welcoming space and
the free air. His hair had been trimmed. He buried his face in the
white of the dog’s collar, and she admired the shape of his head, the
tone to his skin. His clothes came in odd combinations, un-ironed,
often of improper fit and badly worn out. The growing form underneath
made them pleasant, no matter the mismatch or raggedness.
She felt a vague stirring, and flashed to the thought of a young
apple tree with its sod-bound roots.