Look out! We're about to begin! There once was an office worker named Timothy. He lived in an Atlantic port city, where everyone wanted to live, but no one stayed for long. His apartment was on a narrow street crowded with tall houses, and he shared his home with a pretty wife, curious children, and a little dog named Dot.
Dot was a busy terrier. His black nose twitched and pulsated as he inhaled all scents. This nose of Dot's was like a busy person's eyes darting back and forth from one thing to the next, and his name was Dot because he was so small. They also called him Dot because he had a round black mark on the nape of his white neck.
One day, Timothy started Dot on a walk sometime near 7 p.m., a little later than normal. They strolled along a brick-paved sidewalk. It was peppered with patches of mud, which Timothy avoided.
Dot trotted right through the mud. Then he scurried from crab tree, to lamp post, to sign post, and to whatever else had attracted his nose. He left a trail of black paw prints between all things he wanted to investigate.
Timothy walked this narrow road every day, but his heart still jumped each time a rusty truck came barreling over the potholes. Whenever this happened, he would pull the leash taut to keep Dot safe.
On today's walk, a new person with an English bulldog approached after a truck drove down the street. The springs in Dot's legs unwound, as he thought this was an opportunity to play. Timothy pulled hard on the leash, and rightly so. Dot tried for a playful wrestle, but the English bulldog snarled a nasty warning.
The bulldog soon passed on his way. Dot stopped pulling against the leash. They continued their walk, but Dot kept looking back for the bulldog. Behind sad eyes, he held back barks for play.
Timothy gave Dot a biscuit. Dot's eyes brightened, and the bulldog was forgotten. Then, Timothy noticed rooftops and golden light.
Nearby gables (and the roofs of taller buildings in the distance) glowed in the golden light. The upper surfaces were luminous and distinct from the darker surfaces below. The ground level lacked all the richness imparted by the orange-yellow painter's light shining above.
The beauty of the light captured Timothy's attention so
completely that he decided to take a longer walk than normal. He would turn back home once he had reached the town square.
The sun must have been putting on quite a show up in the distance. Timothy could not see any of it. Three-story homes walled off the sky. Ahead, poking above the rooftops, a glowing church steeple caught his eye, but faint music coming from somewhere captured his attention instead. So he paused and let Dot have a long sniff around a giant terracotta pot while he listened.
Here, through a bay window, Timothy could see three people in violin practice. He could hear just enough to make out the minuet, but the glass and walls between him and the violins muffled all of the sound. Inside the house, the music was lively, textured; outside the house, like the sunset, it was distant and suggested.
He checked his watch, gave Dot a biscuit, and continued toward the square. On the way, he stopped in front of the Church with the glowing steeple. He observed a serious, old building in need of someone's care. Once a white church, the siding now looked rather cracked and gray. Over time, weather had been allowed to chip away much of the white paint. A large stained glass window faced the street, but it hid in the shadows. At this time of day, the elaborate glass looked cloudy and unremarkable.
Above the shadows, the sun still painted everything with its golden rays. These revealed a steeple that differed from the rest of the building. He had passed here many times, but the church was now as Timothy had never seen it before--almost magical.
Along this street, there were three other old churches, and Timothy imagined them on Sundays of the past. The street would have been filled with families happily greeting each other as they walked to their celebrations. Dot nudged Timothy for a biscuit, so he gave him another one.
When Timothy finally reached the town square, Dot began to tug and toss, because his twitching nose was going mad. The square harbored so many new smells and aromas from interesting places. The pub was one such place. When its door opened, sound and smell poured into the street. When it closed, talk and laughter turned to murmur, and the smell of beer and bread gave way to the cool, humid smell of the nearby ocean.
Not far from the pub was the office building where Timothy worked. Masonry cherubs on the top stories caught the sun's dying glow. At ten stories, they considered it a tall building when it was first built, but time and progress had made it unremarkable to most.
Timothy walked from the square toward a traffic circle that
would lead him back in the direction he came, one street over from his own. The traffic circle (and the wider street which ran west out of it) afforded a clear view of the grand, immense sky.
There certainly was a lot going on up there, where wisps of clouds and treasures of gradients transformed pinks into purples. Lower to the horizon, he could see bluer, whiter light, which was the day almost gone. The clouds curved up from there, reminding him that he stood on a large orb, earth. He imagined that if he were a bird, he could fly to the horizon and chase the fleeting day so that it would not end.
A jarring honk came from a car passing through the rotary, startling him out of his daydream. The boys inside laughed and jeered from the rear window as they drove off. Timothy turned back toward his home.
As houses fell deeper into shadow, their windows came alive. Just as the light of the sunset had transformed the surfaces of all west facing walls, the growing darkness transformed all of the windows. They were now awakened by interior light. Timothy imagined glowing glass jars of honey when he looked at them.
After walking a bit, it came time to cut back to his own street. He felt sad to turn away from the last rays of light, but he had already
taken a longer walk than normal. He surveyed dark side streets and thought, "At sunset the east side of the house is always coldest." Dot nudged him for a biscuit. All he had for Dot now was an empty pocket.
He chose a side street that led back to his own, and, unintentionally, he chose the one that led him back to the church with the magical steeple. At the intersection, he observed the aging church once again. Inside, someone had turned on lights, and the large window, previously hidden in shadows, was now lit like a flame. It had changed into a showpiece of colorful glass mosaic. It's glow of deep reds, purples, and yellows fought back the dark now that the sun's glow had gone.
As he stood there, the memory of a song filled his heart. It was a song his grandmother used to sing to him when he was a boy. He sang out loud.
A couple passed on the sidewalk. The man wore a black blazer, and the woman wore a short, black dress. When they looked over their glasses at him, his heart was so full of song that he didn't notice their subtle disdain.
When Timothy arrived home at his apartment, he fetched one last biscuit for Dot, he tucked in his daughter for the night, and he sang
the song to her:
Come dance in the forest, come play in the field . . .
___ Copyright © 2014 Jason Kantz http://www.kantz.com