A dog had been barking all morning. A white mongrel, with a black spot on its head. It had no tail. She thought it looked odd without a tail. It seemed as though it should have had one. The dog was barking at passing cars.
In the afternoon she did some spring cleaning. A day off work only meant a day working at home. She started on the kitchen. It would take longest to clean. By evening most of the house had been done.
She was hovering around the bedroom when the telephone rang. She smiled as she lifted the receiver. When the voice told her that her father had died, the smile fell from her face. Then she had a feeling of being a passenger in a car, skidding on an icy road.
Later she sat by the window, searching for memories. It was dark outside. A stream of light came from traffic moving over the bridge her street ran on to. She imagined a line of insects, busily following a purpose known only to them. It was too late to do anything but think.
One memory returned again and again. A light being switched on and off in her bedroom, when she was a little girl. She lay in bed half delighted and half scared, as her father teased her. The game had only lasted seconds but she had wanted it to go on. If it stopped she would have to go to sleep.
She would sleep now if she could. She thought about having a shower, then taking a sleeping tablet. But decided not to. She wanted to remember this. As though she was supposed to.
She thought about photographs. How people cherished them. Each one a little time machine, helping us travel back at times like this. She didn’t want to look at photographs.
She tried to get a clear picture of her father’s face in her mind. But each time she tried, he looked a little different. When it began to frighten her she stopped. She thought it was probably better not to think about things too much now.
Outside the lights had vanished from the bridge. She could only see dark shapes in the distance, maybe outlines of trees on the riverbank, huddled together like people. She supposed they could be people. But she couldn’t think why they would be there. It was so late.
Much later she thought about the dog that morning. How it had no tail.