Zebras Dance Jubilantly

Zebras Dance Jubilantly

By Jackie Leavitt

The rain drums on our roof from an unexpected storm. Everything outside is gray: the sky, the ocean, the bushes and trees. Even the invisible wind. Sadness lurks behind me, an unwelcome guest for the past two days.

I’d hoped today would be different.

It still can be. Rain does not equal sad. It just dampens everything.

See, I made a joke. Today will be better than yesterday and the day before, I tell myself. I convince myself.

A chill seeps through the window, single-paned and old, but it helps wake me up. I had slipped inside this closet-sized office-slash-library immediately after giving Arthur a quick kiss and using the bathroom. No time wasted on coffee. I want to write without interruptions before the day of chores begins.

I sit and wait for my old laptop to load. It spends so much time thinking, and I stare blankly at the screen. I can hear Arthur stirring in our bed in the other room. The sheets rustle, then his surfer feet pad along the hardwood floor. The front door opens then closes as he walks out to the dogs, Jamie and Marley. It’s feeding time.

The dirt patch, worn into the grass in front of Marley’s little shed, is now mud. She will trot inside for breakfast and leave a trail of brown paw prints. She will shake her border collie fur and send droplets flying across the furniture.

Grass grows uninterrupted around Jamie’s shed. She’s older and less anxious. Settled. She only shows extreme excitement in the morning. She will lick Arthur’s fingers and joyfully jump up and down toward the front door, like a bronco bucking off a cowboy.

Jamie scrapes her nails on the hardwood floor on the way to her dog bed, waiting to be served. Marley’s metal tags jingle through the rooms as she searches for me – but it ends quickly, interrupted by breakfast biscuits.

Minutes pass as I type a few words into a blank document, and I hear my door open quietly. Arthur whispers, go inside. A black-and-white nose pokes around the corner. Marley sees me, then she’s bounding the six feet that separate us, her tail wagging so hard her body looks serpentine. Jamie follows, bucking and pushing her sister out of the way. She buries her head under my arms and presses her wet body against my sweatpants, demanding her morning scratches and hugs. Marley leaps about the space, twisting into the air between me and Arthur, seeking an outlet for her endless puppy energy.

“Ok, let’s give her some space,” Arthur says to the dogs. He slaps his thigh. It takes a couple tries to get Marley out of the room – she keeps rushing back. After Arthur gently closes the door, the space still hums with dog energy.

I return to my computer and smile as I hear the crunching gears of the coffee hand grinder. It’s Arthur, making me surprise coffee. The good kind, with hints of black currant, coconut and dark sugar. A few minutes later, he opens the door, holding my favorite mug, with zebras dancing jubilantly around the ceramic middle.

“Do you want a sip of my coffee?” Arthur teases, holding the cup above me. Arthur rarely drinks coffee because it sends him bounding around the room like Marley, talking at double speed.

“Yes, please,” I reply, smiling.

“Just kidding,” he says, unnecessarily. He sets the cup by my elbow, then leans down to kiss me.

“You taste like coffee,” I say.

“I had a sip to keep it from overflowing.”

The mug warms my hands in between moments of typing. I hear Arthur go outside on the porch, and I look out the window again. The green leaves glisten with raindrops, and the high tide sends small white waves onto the golden beach.

It’s not raining anymore. A faint rainbow touches the gray clouds. It might rain again later, but right now, I think it’s going to be a good day.