“No, please, no. No. Dammit. OK.” Augusta got up from her warm bed, pulled on warm clothes and opened her bedroom door to the small room that sufficed as everything — dog crate, living room, office, kitchen, dining room and hallway. “You poor baby. I dragged you all the way out here, the least I can do is take you out to pee.” The pale yellow creature lay at her feet, looking toward her with blind eyes. “Come on. No, don’t bite me. C’mon, Lily. You’ll get used to it,” she said, hooking the leash to the dog’s harness. Siberian huskies will run — even this old one would do her best — given half a chance. A simple collar was no insurance against that. After finding Lily with her head stuck under a chain link fence, trapped by the little hoop that held her tag, Augusta had found a different way to ID her dog, Twenty minutes later, Lily would have been dead. Augusta still shivered every time she thought of the goodness of fate, that she’d found her dog in time.
“You two can come too.” Dusty and Mindy got up from their comfortable sleep, instantly ready to go outside. Augusta worried about large animals — bears, particularly, having found bear scat on their trail — so she leashed Dusty and Mindy, too. Once they were out, in the dark night — or very early morning — Augusta realized she had forgotten her flashlight.
Nothing compared to this. No shimmer of dust or atmosphere came between her and the “glorious firmament.” Orion stood above her, only beginning his descent, pushed aside by Old Sol’s flaming shove. Silence. Complete silence. No trucks on the state highway, no coyotes, nothing. Like the first night of the world.
“Good girl,” she whispered to Lily then to Mindy. “Good girl.”
Augusta slowly became aware of a constant whooshing sound to her right. What? “The river,” she realized. “It’s the river. I haven’t heard it before. The traffic. I’m in the old days, now, before all this.” Augusta thought for a moment — how would it be if? She wanted to stay there, to imagine this, but the beauty was cold, as cold as her refrigerator. Colder. Her eyes were filled with tears, not from sorrow or from joy, simply from the cold. “C’mon you guys. I should’ve worn a hat.”
She took one last look at the sky and knew that she would always remember stepping out into the first night of the world. Silently she thanked Lily. “I wouldn’t have been out here if you hadn’t had to pee,” she thought, “you sweet wild thing.”