At 10:30 that morning, as on every weekday and Saturday morning, a long, straight feather of brown dust rose on the gravel road. Where the feather began, a blue car rumbled. When the blue car stopped in front of our house, the dustcloud seemed to catch the car and eat it...
"Mail's in," I called to Red Dog as the blue car pulled away.
Red Dog and I walked to the mailbox at the end of the lane. Until that moment, not a word, not a step or motion had been different from the way it had been at 10:30 on hundreds of other mornings.
I took a letter from the box, tore open the envelope, read what was inside, and returned to the house.
Red Dog knew that something unusual had happened. Because, never had I read the mail before returning to the house. Because, never had I dropped an envelope onto the ground without retrieving it. Because, never had I neglected to close the mailbox's door...
Yes: When the envelope fluttered to the ground, Red Dog's eyes had opened wide. As if to see if I were still myself, he came and sniffed my foot. When I returned to the house with the envelope still on the ground and the mailbox door still open, Red Dog just stood looking at me without following.
Never had Red Dog let me walk away without following...
That day, at 10:30 AM, the long, straight feather of brown dust had brought me something that for the rest of the day would keep Red Dog and me from sharing our hours as easily as we had done hundreds of times before.