The neighbors put their barbecue pit to practical use before New Year’s. Unfortunately, I can’t say I like meat. But the one who sits across from me, while understanding my disliking, can’t exactly empathize. He sighs and blinks, always near. Smelling his paws simple like Legos, though potentially assertive in the boxing ring. Backstrokes, butterflies, teepees and arrows.
Once, he stopped to paddle, and I stood in the crowd, breathing stilled. Brown recluses skittering by, and I took a step forward to scratch his ear. Trunk outstretched in serpentine grace, he ran from me, grumbling. That day, he didn’t feel like believing the world was as flat as our three-home cul-de-sac. I knew he’d return to argue, staring me down as I flipped a quarter, skeptical that it would do anything to ensure school was cancelled thanks to inclement weather.
Several years later, I took him to the coast. I didn’t know how to swim, but this was okay as he cowered at the rise of teal bedsheets. My toes curled in cool sand and his ears twitched in the slight wind. I bit into my turkey sandwich, and blankly, he stared at my happy jaw. He circled about that burlap beach, enjoying the most I could give him with a paycheck deposited the week before. I remember the creases in that scratch-off card he placed in my small palm, pink like his trunk on ordinary days.
Debts paid off, I’m watching the steak blacken. My friend sleeps, guarding dreams.