Wren looked after them again. They’d disappeared up and around the curve of the street. They were turning into a driveway, though, and the dog was pulling slightly on his lead, eager to get inside the house for the night.
How did she know that? And how had she known the dog’s owner was concerned for her safety alone in a park at night? She put her hand up to her forehead, pressing it there as if she could push her thoughts into some kind of sensible order. She tried to think of what she’d been doing when she realized the dog walker was approaching. She’d been thinking about the night air, the neighborhood, trying to focus and think about her immediate surroundings rather than dwelling on her fears and afflictions. She took a deep breath and sat back against the bench, attempting to recreate the feeling she’d had.
She breathed evenly and closed her eyes. The park was still and quiet. Birds huddled and gathered in trees, cats and raccoons moved quietly in the bushes and backyards. Dogs tied outside stared at lit windows, wishing to be inside where it was warm. She was not quite feeling these things as if she were an animal but she knew they were there, could feel that they were happening. She didn’t push further, instead opening her eyes and staring around her. What if she did push further? Would she experience the existence and feelings of all the people in the houses nearby? Did she want that?
Her phone buzzed in her pocket, scaring her half to death. She reached for it instinctively, two fears warring in her mind. It could be Wil, the more logical thought insisted. Wil calling or texting with some kind of olive branch or explanation. The other, less desirable, was that it could be a message from her mysterious stalker. Contacting her like this would not be beyond their capabilities, she was sure.
She was both relieved and disappointed to see that it was a text from her brother. She sagged back against the bench without bothering to read it, waiting for her heartbeat to get back to normal. Even if she could have a heart attack it probably wouldn’t kill her, she supposed. Her heart could burst and knit right back together again.
She left the park and headed home. On her way she paused for a moment on the bridge crossing the creek. She heard rustling down in the rushes and while she would normally not pay much attention to such a thing she wasn’t feeling quite normal. She listened carefully, then tried to use her newfound ‘listening’.
To her surprise it was a fox drinking water in the security of the rushes. It knew she was there but it didn’t seem especially fearful; just alert. She stood quietly, marveling at her awareness of its presence, until it finished drinking and slipped away back toward the apartment buildings. It was purposeful and focused. Probably hunting, she reflected. She had seen a fox a few times in the field on the other side of her building, ghosting along the trees lining the visitor’s parking. She’d been thrilled by the sightings and read up on foxes in Ontario, finding that they lived in pairs and usually hunted and defended an area of a few kilometers.
She reluctantly began walking back home again. She planned to go back to work in the morning. She hoped there wouldn’t be any more bizarre surprises before then.
Tags: Chapter Two