Day Thirty, Tuesday
The key twisted in the lock with a click. Joey, at her feet, pranced and panted, excited to be going home. As Morgan opened the door, Joey bolted inside and skidded on the empty floor. She spun to turn down the hall, heading for Jimmy’s room. No one there. She snuffled along the floor, smelling, searching. Each bedroom, empty. Confused, she ran the loop through the kitchen and dining room. Barely making the corner, she bounced off the door frame.
Morgan called her over and squatted down to talk to her. “They are gone, girl. I know it is strange, but it is just you and me now.” She ruffled her ears, digging her fingers deep into the fur behind them. Joey leaned into the scratch. “We’ll be okay, you and me, once we get used to this. Today, I have to clean this place. The owner is coming at three to inspect and pick up the key. Let’s go out back for a little bit, then I’ll get started.” She walked through the kitchen, opened the back door. Joey ran out, made a circuit around the yard, checking, smelling, still searching. No one, nothing. She walked over to the patio and sat, staring out toward the yard, waiting.
The cleaning supplies were in the pantry cupboard. Morgan picked them up, left the back door open so Joey could come in when she wanted, and went to work. Through the morning, Joey would come to check on her. She would always stop, talk to her, pet her, reassure her, ache with her. But they would be okay. She kept telling Joey that, more to reassure herself. She needed someone to tell her that, too.
The work went quickly. Cleaning an empty house is a breeze, she thought. “C’mon Joey, let’s go get some lunch. I have some treats for you, and I imagine you are thirsty.” They stood on the front porch a moment. Morgan looked across the street to her own house. My home, she thought. “That is your home now, too,” she said to Joey. The puppy looked up at her and wagged her tail. “So, let’s go settle in together, what do you say?” She locked the door behind her, trying not to look back, but to look forward. Ahead.
The afternoon was quiet. Even the town seemed more still than usual today. It all felt so empty. They sat out on the patio, Joey sprawled on her side in a patch of sunlight, Morgan with her feet up on another chair, reading Winter Solstice. She hoped for a happy ending. She could use a happy ending today.