She was there, in the darkness, black eyes standing out in the shadow of my house. When the driveway’s motion sensing light turned on I saw the rest of her, white hair, and shaky legs, a belly thinned from age, stranded out in the cold, forgotten for just long enough to lock her helplessly out.
I come home the next day and she is asleep on the living room floor, she has too much trouble getting to the couch now, her legs have shrunk beneath her. She does not wake when I open the door as she once would have, even if she had been sleeping upstairs; she is deaf now and is surprised constantly by people she does not hear coming, by our schedules that she can no longer keep track of.
My parents have hired someone to help take care of her while they are at work. A sweet woman named Wendy who comes by once a day. Now, home for break, I wake her when I get up so that she will not pee in the bed and take her outside to go to the bathroom while I smoke my morning cigarette. The dog we got the summer I was eight, the summer I got sick.
My father had locked her out that night I found her in the driveway- he too has graying hair and is getting a bit forgetful. When I came downstairs to tell him what he had done he looked embarrassed and said nothing. He works too much, sees everyone too little, can’t always keep up with the needs of all of those around him. He wishes he could be home during the day so he could take the old girl out himself, in the sun and the fall breeze.