Monday, it had been the flat sheet with faded yellow cabbage roses, the old one washed until it felt like flannel.
At first, Ruth thought she’d forgotten to wash it. But then she remembered how it had hung up in the wringer. She’d shut the infernal old machine off and wriggled that sheet out like a reluctant calf.
On Wednesday, she knew something was afoot. Two raggedy bath towels went missing—towels she’d washed to get ready for Trixie’s puppies. The old hound’s belly was big as a watermelon, her time coming soon. The towels had hung in the middle of the stretched lines, between Virgil’s work pants, not on the end where they’d be easily grabbed. The discriminating thievery made Ruth stop and think.
This morning, she baited the trap, hanging an old tablecloth Virgil spilled ham gravy on. Even after washing, it still smelled meaty. She sat behind the sheers overlooking the clothesline, her day’s work done, but for the dinner that needed starting. The house bore the clean stamp of settled quiet, beds long made, dishes drying in the drainboard, kids long grown.
She sat in the filtered sun and soaked in the silence. It wasn’t long before the old thief showed up, belly swaying. She waddled ponderously, back swayed from so many litters. Gray hairs grizzled her snout as she tugged the tablecloth gently from the line.
Ruth ticked the curtain aside, watched Trix drag the tablecloth off between bowed legs. Ruth’s heart twisted remembering the hard work ahead. The old girl would struggle, but she knew what to do. Soon, they’d have one last wriggling batch of velvety puppies.
LOVE IN THE DESERT - *11/22/2008 * We come here to discover our origins. Outside, snow glitters to the end of the world. We join Xavier and Lucien in the concrete pod perched...
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