Driving down a back dirt road, the gravel under my tires.
Rock and Roll up.
A cloud of dust billowing behind.
A sharp right turn down a steep gravel hill.
I hear his voice in my head.
“Keep it slow.”
Pond to my right. Woods to my left.
I stop. Turn off the engine.
My hands slip from the wheel. I slump back against my seat.
Two furry faces peer through the sliding glass that’s covered in slimy nose art.
Barking, ears perked.
Black and white.
I get out, the car door slam shuts.
Wind ruffles the trees, the stone shift under my feet.
My backpack slung over my shoulder filled with homework I won’t complete.
So many sounds.
The horn of an 18-wheeler, echoing far from the main road.
The croak of bull frogs, their startled squeaks.
Plip-plop. Into the swamp.
The dull sound of air pressure, suction. Then the snap of a screen door.
Two creatures, black and white, race to meet me. Collars tinkling. Frantic scrambling.
They present me naked bellies to rub.
Inside, it smells like the outside, like the wind and the woods, dog and logs and spiders that lurk in dusty corners.
I kick off my shoes at the door.
His deep tenor greets me.
And I know.
That’s the sound of home.