The dog barked at the backdoor. He checked, no one there, probably a mouse. The old man fixed himself a cup of tea, added sugar and milk. Sat down in the dark, only a stove light was on. The dog barked again. There there boy, he said. That’ll do boy, that’ll do.

Summer time without air conditioning. He sat in a pool of sweat drinking hot tea; mumbled about being cold. The whole thing didn’t make sense; cold and sweating. The old man was afraid of this; she was no longer there to tend to him. She hadn’t been for some time. She would know what to do.

He grabbed the blanket from the couch and wrapped it around his body. He was growing colder, sweating more, teeth rattled. The dog barked again. Shhh, he said. Shhh. You mustn’t. He took another sip of tea. It had grown cold.

And, he noticed in the corner, a pair of house slippers. They looked like his wife’s. He wondered if they were. Looking at the slippers, he could remember now. How that’s all she ever wore. They would dance in the kitchen with them on. How he wished she was there. How he wished.

The old dog came and sat by his side. He gave him a good rub. Then there was a sound from down the hall. It was her getting up to make breakfast.

You’re here, he said.

Yes. Did you sleep?

Nothing happened to you?, she shook her head, walked over and touched his face. She felt the coolness of it.

No dear. Did you have another bad dream?, he nodded. She held him close.

Don’t leave me.

Shhh. No dear. I won’t.

And then he woke up. Sunlight came in through the back door window. It was another day.

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