Every night, Schlitzy and I take a walk around the neighborhood. I get to hand over the responsibilities of raising twin toddlers; Schlitzy gets to walk more than two steps without little hands attempting to shove crayons up his nose. I evict my brain of a worry with each step, eventually I find myself floating behind him, tethered only by Schlitzy’s leash. He is oblivious of his role as anchor; there are too many squirrel scents for his nose to track. I’m pretty sure that’s all our neighborhood is to him: lines of squirrel scents like spaghetti noodles dropped on the ground.
Last night, I felt a crunch beneath my foot as we were circling back behind Camden Elementary. A green plastic O, the kind with a magnet glued to the back so they can be arranged and rearranged on a fridge by tiny fingers, defied my path. As I reached down to pick the O up, I spotted more plastic letters scattered the sandy gulch around the aluminum merry-go-round.
One by one, I gathered the cold letters onto the flat plain of the metal, their magnetic pull surprising me at first, but then reminding me of those magnet science kits of my childhood—the hours I spent trying to force two repellant magnets together, watching the one I was holding throw off the other. With a P and a D, I performed the experiment again, only this time releasing them just as I feel their pull toward each other. They’d be mid-air for a split second before I’d hear the satisfying snap of their connection, confident in their new relationship.
I spelled words. Twins. Role. Display. Job. Looping. No place for the X and Y. Although, I did think of adding the X to the end of Role before imposing a “no proper noun” rule on myself, like in Scrabble. I’m not sure how long I sat there trying to use all the letters, but I got up when I felt Schlitz tug on his leash. The next thing I knew I was hanging his leash up on the peg next to my back door, Schlitz’s nails were tapping on the linoleum, and little arms were wrapping around my knee.