He found it harder and harder to believe that there should be something so
large in the universe, so powerful, and it did him no good to explain this to
himself. He had always believed that he had some control over the world, but
this was a different kind of control. There were people who were just as
impressed, who just as easily could understand. But they never tried. He had
grown up with the thought that he was good at his job, that he was in control
of the world. But he had no idea how to make it happen. It was like being a
child again, trying to run the world and to have to make a decision that
somebody else had made.
He had been trying to talk to his neighbor about this for years, but they always
ignored him. Their children, now grown, had grown out of this and it was not
difficult to see why. There was still a feeling behind it, the fear that he
could not manage, but they were adults now. No longer would they fear
themselves, but they would ignore him when it was for the better.
As he walked on he thought about it. There were many strange things in the
world and he had to remind himself that he was not alone. Most likely, the
world was a mass of life, and that life had evolved and it was the humans on
earth who created the world. But it made one wonder what there was for him
out there. Was he not alone?
He stopped to look around. There was a sound of birds in the trees, but he did
not see any birds. It was such a different sound than anything he had ever
heard before. He was not sure whether it meant anything, but at the same time
he felt as though he was standing in the middle of nowhere. He looked at his
watch. It was ten to five.
He wondered about a phone call. He could not see himself being a man of
necessity. It was easier to think that a phone call would make him a man of
choice, but that choice was one he did not feel he possessed. His own life
haunted him and he did not find that it haunted him as much when he was
working. It was harder to think of something like that now.
He continued to walk. His neighbor had given up on him and had moved to a
different part of the city where there were a lot of houses and not much to
see. He wondered if she ever felt alone or if she ever would. He was
contemplating that, when he saw her. She was looking off into the distance.
She was looking at something.
She turned and he saw why. There was something there, a shape in the distance.
He had never seen it before. A very big shape. It was on the horizon. He had
been told that in his lifetime it would move further and further away and that
it was almost there. He had never had the nerve to look at it. He had been in
the back a lot, and then in the front because it was almost always quiet there
and he could not hear the voices around him. He had looked at it sometimes,
but he had not had the courage. But now, with no one around, he suddenly had
the courage. He looked at her. She looked back at him with curiosity. A little
took on the look of a puppy that had been stepped over.
She had a dog who was one of many dogs. She was one of many people.
He moved closer to her. She looked at him. She shook her head. He moved
closer. She looked at him.
“What are you doing? This is private property.”
“No, it’s not private. I just want to see what it looks like. I didn’t realize
how far it was going to go.”
“What do you mean?”
“I see it over there on the horizon. It’s going to pull farther and farther
away. I had seen it when I was a kid, but never had the nerve to look at it. Did
you ever look at it, your dog?”
“No, I guess I never thought to. My parents had to take care of all the
“Well, my father wasn’t a dog person. He wanted me to grow up to be a man of
sense, not to be a dog boy. I don’t blame him. I didn’t always want to be in
his way. But I always took care of my animals and he took care of his. He had
two wives. He had a son that was like me. And he had a daughter. She had a
thing for dogs. That’s why I had to keep running away from my parents and
keeping quiet. But now that I’ve seen it I can’t stop and it’s getting farther
She looked out across the fields of grass as it rippled in the wind. They sat
for a while in silence.
He realized that even if he did manage to move back into the city, it would
not be the same with her. She was one of many people. One of many dogs who
would never see the world in the same way again. How he hoped she would
survive it, knowing full well that nobody would love her.
In his mind, he began to formulate an argument.
“What about your parents? How will they cope until you’re big enough that they
won’t need you?”
“Oh, my parents and I have been through this one too many times!” she had a
little laugh. “My mother works for the government and my father works to buy
us food. My father lives in a cardboard box. And we eat whatever kind of food
our parents buy.”
“What about your sister?”
“She’s like me. She doesn’t know how to eat. She has to learn how to eat.
She doesn’t like to. She’s like me. My sister and I don’t really have any
friends. She can’t stand being in the same room with me. I have to keep quiet
and hide until the other kids stop fighting.”
“What about your father and your sister?”
She had shrugged. “I don’t know. They do the best they can. I don’t know what
“I think it’s funny, the way things have turned out. I knew my parents had
things they couldn’t afford, but I didn’t understand how they ended up
living this way and my sister and I are the ones who feel alone.
“I can’t help it. I was adopted by my father. But I guess he wanted to get
me out of the way when he found out I was a girl. He didn’t like women. He
wanted to get rid of us. And now my sister thinks I’m crazy. She still doesn’t
understand that I have to eat. And my father and I don’t have any money. I
just didn’t know how bad things would get.”
“I can’t help it either. I was adopted as a child, but I would have stayed
if I had known. I knew my mom wouldn’t let me. But I didn’t want my father to
have to adopt me.