Day Four: Fuzzy
Kahrin didn’t cry the day Innes moved to the city. Not right away, and not at all if she was telling the story. Everyone was indulgently tolerant of her sulking, even Innes, pressing his nose to her cheek. Of course her parents drove him, loading his belongings (except his favorite orange sweatshirt) in the back of the farm truck.
Da grunted and made noncommittal sounds—Innes thought they were disapproval, but Kahrin knew were notes of things that would need fixing—as Ma clucked around the tiny apartment in her protective way. Hugs were given and promises made to visit as soon as possible. Innes always kept his promises. The sharp poke in her ribs when she opened her jacket to reveal his orange hooded sweatshirt made them both laugh. It was non-negotiable: If the city got to keep Innes, she got to keep Innes’ shirt.
The ride passed as any other. Ma chattered on it being strange with Innes gone. The city limit sign blurred past, leaving eye-fatigue ghosts swimming in her vision. Her fingers twisted in the fleecy inside of the sweatshirt, and she pulled the hood a little lower to hide the puffy rims of her mismatched eyes. She picked at her dinner and pretended to have anything on her mind except the big gaping hole in her chest where Innes was supposed to be every day.
No, it was night when the tears finally came, the house quiet, and everyone asleep as she heaved cavernous sobs into the pillow on the little trundle of her daybed, the one Innes used at countless sleepovers. It was Pickle who heard her, whimpering softly in worry as he pushed open the door to her room, and nudged her with his wet nose, pressing it against her cheek, as Innes would often do when comforting her, or just talking about all the many events, mundane and not, that made up their lives. Kahrin curved tiny body, and the big bully curled into the space it opened. She buried her face in his blue marled coat and dug her fingers into the soft, wiry grey hair. She cried it out, with only the dog to bear witness, and when she was finished, he licked her tears away and fell asleep beside her.