The Squirrel

For several minutes, Valerie stared at the light from her bedroom window, watching the light through the blinds stretching across the ceiling. She was trying to remember which direction the window faced, trying to remember which way the sun rose and which way it fell. Her bedside clock read five past seven in static red digits.

The house was mostly silent, only the quiet pathetic whimpering of Charlene from beneath the foot of the bed. Valerie stirred and the dog stirred. Valerie sat up and the grey head of the husky popped up to turn an apprehensive blue eye toward her.

“What day is it?” Valerie asked out loud to no one. Charlene stood up tall, head tilting as she attempted to process the question posed. “Ma?” Her voice echoed through the room and down the short hall.

No response. No movement or noise. The air conditioner kicked on softly with a click. The house was empty. It was seven in the evening. Her bedroom window faced the west, faced the cow pasture, faced the marsh. She remembered that her mother was probably at work, night shift at the bakery. She’d be gone, thankfully, until morning.

How long was I asleep?

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