In the blink of an eye

After what seemed an eternity of nearly unbearable hot humid weather, temperatures suddenly plummeted into the low 60s overnight.

We turned off the air conditioning in the downstairs rooms and the upstairs hallway and opened the windows for the first time in weeks. Several times during the night I stirred, feeling first for the sheet neatly folded at the foot of the bed; eventually reaching for the counterpane as well, pulling it up to my neck and snuggling down beneath it into the warmth of a bed in autumn.

I felt a bit dizzy after dinner last night. Thinking I might have been a bit dehydrated, I drank a large glass of water and went out for a walk with my wife and the dog. The air was still warm as we sauntered down the sidewalk where the men had been working to replace the drains in the street. We sat on one of the new benches in the center of town and looked out across the green to the old three-story turn-of-the-century building that housed the restaurant.

“The upstairs apartments are vacant,” my wife said.

You could see that there were no longer curtains hanging in the windows.

“Which one did Millie live in?” I asked, referring to one of my wife’s friends from long ago.

“The one on the left,” my wife said. “But I don’t recall that she had a view out the front. She must have had one of the back apartments.”

My wife had helped her paint the tiny apartment when Millie first moved in. Now Millie lived in another town with her American husband. Her boy had grown up and was out on his own. They had come a long way from the atrocities of Kosovo.

“Things have changed so much from when we first came to town,” my wife remarked.

“A lot can change in thirty years,” I said.

The dog panted and strained at the leash. Slowly, we rose and walked back up the street in the evening heat.

We cut through the church property on the way up to our street.  As we approached the house, our neighbor called out from his back yard and walked across the grassy expanse to where we waited. He looked distraught.

“I had to put Bella down today,” he said.

Bella was the second dog he had lost in the last month.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Kidneys gave out,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it when the vet called with the lab results. She had lost so much weight after Colby died.”  Colby had been the older dog.  “I thought she was in some sort of a funk. She and Colby were always together. Now they’re both gone.”

I shook my head. “Things change in the blink of an eye,” I said.

Slowly, he nodded his head.