In sixty years, Miguel might have some sort of family. He imagines his funeral and wonders what kind of faces specific people will be making. Then Miguel realizes that he probably has yet to meet most of the people who will attend his funeral, assuming it happens in a very distant future, again assuming that it will definitely happen, that there won’t be some kind of universe-altering spiritual event first. When Miguel imagines the future, initially everything appears exactly like it does in the present. Things feels like they feel in the present, but only initially. Because after seeing the initial image in his mind, Miguel reminds himself that the future will probably look and feel very different. Although, he does imagine it will smell kind of the same, which is weird, he thinks.
Miguel is walking his neighbor’s dog. It’s a little schnauzer. At least, it’s part schnauzer, Miguel thinks. Miguel is pretty sure. It looks like it’s part schnauzer. Wait, is schnauzer the one that looks like it has a beard? That is schnauzer, right? Miguel thinks it’s schnauzer. He’s pretty sure it is. Miguel spins away from the leash as the little schnauzer runs around him after a squirrel. Then Miguel pulls the schnauzer towards him and bends down to untangle the leash from where it is caught in between the dog’s front legs. He looks at the schnauzer in the face, pressing the bottom of his snout upwards into the air. “You’re a schnauzer, right? I’m pretty sure you’re a schnauzer,” Miguel says and rubs the dog’s ear. They finish walking around the block and Miguel returns the dog to its fenced-in yard. Miguel closes the fence latch and waves to the dog while walking backwards down the driveway. Then Miguel turns towards the house and waves to Gwen who is standing at the kitchen window loading the dishwasher. Gwen waves back and says, “thanks Miguel.” Miguel barely hears it but sees her mouth moving and nods once. Then he moves on down the driveway and off of it onto the street, then down the street and off of that onto another driveway, making a sort of Z shape. Miguel enters his house thinking about Gwen mouthing those words to him. He pictures the little dog’s face pressed up against the chain-link fence, his snout sticking out through one of the diamond-shaped openings, his tongue hanging out of his mouth.
“Can we go soon?” his sister says.
“We can go now,” Miguel says. He is driving her to the doctor’s to have a small growth on the bottom of her foot removed. They are going to freeze it off with nitrogen. It’s a ten minute ride and then a five minute procedure. They arrive and park without a problem. Miguel waits in the car. He waits for half an hour, then forty-five minutes. He inspects his jeans, looking for weak areas where there could be potential for ripping or tearing, and then leans into the backseat to have a look there. Miguel sees a pile of empty plastic water bottles on the floor behind the driver’s seat. He looks up at the building out through the passenger side window. He looks at a bird moving through the sky.
When Miguel’s sister comes out of the office, she is limping and clenching her jaw.
“It hurts a lot,” she says.
“Sit down,” Miguel says.
“I can’t, I am supposed to walk on it but I can’t do that either,” she says.
“Pull your pinky finger really hard to one side, it will take the pain away some from your foot.”
“No,” she says, “that’s stupid.”
“It works,” Miguel says.
“Isn’t there Tylenol or something?”
“Didn’t he give you anything?”
“I don’t know, no, he just said to walk it off. He said I have to walk on it a lot.”
“I read about these people who do something called ‘city hiking’ or something like that. They try to walk every street in a particular city or something, and then go to another city and do the same thing.”
“City walking,” Miguel says.
“You’re retarded,” his sister says.
“Well I don’t do it, I just read about it. Anyway, can I drive us home now or do you have to, like, walk home?”
“Whatever, let’s just go.”
“What about the walking thing?”
“I don’t care.”
“Seems like a bad idea,” Miguel says.
“Whatever, I’ll just press my foot down into the floor of the car really hard on the way home,” she says and gets into the car. Miguel starts the car, backs it out of the parking spot and then takes Lincoln Pike south towards home. Miguel’s sister looks pretty with her hair cut just above the shoulders, strands falling at irregular lengths, and she has a jawline that, for some reason, is always interesting to look it. Miguel glances at his sister’s foot and then back at the road.
“I’m doing it, I’m doing it,” she says.
“Does it hurt?”
Miguel turns the car onto a smaller road and reaches over to pinch his sister’s leg. He gets her thigh.
“Owowowowow,” she says and smacks his hand. Then, “Hey, that kind of worked for a second.” Then she pinches herself on the arm and then the leg. She pinches herself a lot of times in a row. “Okay, that’s too much pinching,” she says, “what else can I do?” Miguel turns the car onto their street and looks at his sister. He doesn’t say anything. She looks at him. He is looking at the road. Then he looks at her again. She is looking out the window. “Masturbation works for headaches,” Miguel thinks. Then, “sing a song about your pain, that works for the Boss,” he says, meaning Springsteen, of course. Miguel’s sister laughs and repeats the term, “the Boss.”
“This is ridiculous,” she says.
“I’m serious,” Miguel says as he pulls into the driveway, “be like the Boss. Exorcise your pain through sweet maladies. But not sweet as in sweet, sweet as in awesome.”
“A malady is a disease. I think you mean melody,” she says.
“All depends on how you look at it, I guess,” Miguel says.
“Whatever,” she says leaving the car out the passenger door. Miguel starts collecting the empty water bottles in the back seat.
“What are you doing?” His sister says. Miguel drops the bottles where they are.
“Nothing,” he says and then thinks, “I guess I’ll get these later.”
“You have the keys,” she says. Miguel tosses her the keys and then gets his coat from the back seat. She is almost at the front door. Miguel hears her singing.
“M—y fo–ot real-ly hurts. It real-ly hurts a– lo—t, but I’m o—kay, I’m o—kay, I’m o-ka—y.”
Inside, Miguel checks his email, and, much later, makes pasta in tomato sauce for dinner. After checking his email, and way before dinnertime, Miguel doesn’t know quite what to do. He opens his computer again and writes an email:
are you a deer? or a dear? do i heart you or hart you? i know you know what a hart is. you know? (that last ‘you know’ was rhetorical, i’m sorry) but do you know what a heart is?
just kidding, i’m not being serious. for real. okay this email is retarded. i’m going to write you a new one.
Miguel rereads the text he just wrote and then stares at the screen for what seems like a good amount of time. Then he clicks compose mail and a new screen comes to him, blank and white, leaving the previous text saved as a draft, safely unaddressed and stored in a different folder, one marked “Drafts”. There are other texts saved in that folder. There will be more added, but not right now. Miguel presses random keys on the keyboard. He presses many letter keys in a row and then the spacebar a lot of times. He presses enter and some number keys, then some more letter keys. Miguel looks at the screen and then clicks discard draft and sits back in the chair, staring at the window to his left. It had quickly become dark in the room, a cloud moving over the sun. Miguel doesn’t write another email. He signs out of his email account and closes his computer lid. He knows he should think of something constructive to do, and feels it as an early form of pressure circling above his head like a halo. Miguel envisions the halo as a circle of dogs sniffing each other while he is walking downstairs to the basement, unsure of what he plans to do there or anywhere else, but feeling fine. Miguel sits down on the bottom stair and then moves himself up one step so that his legs are bent more comfortably. He stays there for a long time, long enough for the room to become very familiar and boring, which doesn’t take too long, and then even longer so that it starts to feel like a very different thing entirely.
matthew savoca (born USA 1982) lives in the united states and italy.