I was barefoot running across a cricket field. A woman in a red headband grabbed my wrist and pulled me toward a pen filled with cute black puppies. “Half Saint Bernard, half Man,” she explained. She said it was a new breed and tried to sell me on the perks. Much smarter than a regular dog. Still snuggly, just more opinionated. Less of a pet, more of a peer.
I woke up to the sound of the ceiling fan whirring overhead. I was on vacation in Perth, where I used to live, and where it was summer in January.
Over coffee, I told a friend about the dream. “Sounds pretty disturbing,” she said. I told her that maybe one of the dogmen would escape but sadly wouldn’t be able to live free from exploitation. “Like Daryl Hannah in Splash,” she said. Outside the café was a large poodle mix tied to a parking meter.
After saying goodbye, I decided to walk through my old neighborhood. It had been eighteen months since I lived in the brick house with the long corridor and broken bathroom mirror. I inferred from the car in the driveway and the punching bag on the porch that the house was occupied. Standing in the harsh sun, I waited for someone to appear. I could have knocked, but what would I have said? This is where I used to live? And then what? Was I expecting to be invited in to see my old house without my television, my high-speed blender, my children?
A few days later when I returned to the house, I noticed the overgrown weeds. A fly briefly entered my mouth which caused me to cough. I kept coughing, in hopes someone would hear me and open my old front door. No one did.
The third time I walked by the house was my last day in Perth. The car was gone but the windows were open. On my tiptoes I could see bathing suits drying on the clothesline near where I once observed one spider capture another. Something shiny in my peripheral vision caught my attention. There on the sidewalk, sitting upright, was a lone, round Christmas ornament. I leaned over to pick it up. Covered in silver glitter, it sparkled in the sun and felt like sandpaper on my palm. This is not my house anymore, I thought. I put the shiny ball in my purse and walked away. Later that night, I tucked it in my suitcase between bars of chocolate and a pair of red socks. The ball now sits on a shelf in the kitchen, in my home in San Francisco. My children were born in this house. Half him, half me.