It is in the midst of a dream about swimming–the pool in the subconscious has been partially drained, the rules tell her she must wait, she labors to perform the Australian crawl in what amounts to inches of water, she sees a drain at the end of the pool hemorrhaging water. How can she staunch the flow? And what is the tick, tick, tick growing louder and more insistent?
She is startled awake by the trio of real-world sensations–knocking on glass, heat and a human face peering down at her with a blaze of sun eclipsing any shot at distinct facial features.
Where the hell is Betsy Lee?! she wonders as she instinctively swings at him.
Whoa there, Tex, he chastens her calmly, preventing her slap but then holding her hand in a way that was disconcertingly inviting.
You look familiar. He says squinting at her features and using his free hand to make a frame through which to examine her.
Not from around these parts?
She means to say–my dog-gone birth certificate is from around these very parts Mister. Now where is my dog?!
But what comes out resembles air being released from a tire more than English.
He shifts a little and she sees he is grinning. Grinning and still holding onto her hand.
She pulls it back and purses her lips.
Who the hell are you and where is my dog? This time in actual English.
He moves his chin casually in the direction of the front porch where Betsy can be seen sniffing the canna lilies in the flower boxes.
Her annoyance deflates in the relief of seeing the dog and the steady sense that man and dog have gotten acquainted during her sleep-swim.
You often run dry and end up sleeping in old folk’s driveways?
Yep. Actually I do. I am writing a book–private drives of the coastal plains I have met and conquered.
I admit the title is unwieldy.
Hm. He glances up in a look of studied concentration. Maybe could use some tweaking.
But seriously, you do look familiar. You know the folks who live here?
Maybe. You know, I could ask you the same question. What are you doing out here on Orphanage Road so early in the morning and uninvited to?
Hm..not the right tone, little missy. 11 am is not exactly the crack o’ dawn and I am in fact invited.
I have been mowing this lawn for the last couple years, now, I reckon.
She rubbed her face in rhetorical defeat. Best fess up, she guessed.
This is my grandparents’ house. I drove down to…
It seemed way too complicated to explain her reasons for driving down.
Chris Graciano, he announced, grabbing her hand with both of his and pumping it vigorously in an exaggerated gesture of welcome.
You must be…Laura or Julia? Miss Rhonda’s daughters? I used to hunt with Jack and Dwayne when they went down to The Land.
No…those are my cousins.
She looked straight ahead as she said this, almost wishing she had said yes and gone with impersonating one of her pitch-perfect cousins.
His eyes widened and his mouth dropped at the same time in what would have been a comic gesture of surprise if she had retained an sense of humor about her own identity.
Cindy Lou Who?!! Is it really you?!
Durn She thought. Durn that road.