On my way home from the car shop, then the pet store, then the grocery store, I pull out of the parking lot and onto the street, ease into a mid-range speed. From the right, the kind of quick you call a flash, not because it's a cliché but because that's the way you see it, a big, fluffy, white dog runs happy right in front of my car.
I slam the breaks and the instant breaks into tiny pieces of thought: it's OK, I won't hit him, it's OK, I'll stop, he has a very fluffy tail, does he belong to those people on the other side of the street with the black dog, no he wants to visit the black dog, his leash is trailing, it's OK, I'm stopping - and then for just one of those fractions of the moment, that automatic optimism my brain goes into whenever I panic is gone and the dog is right in front of my left front wheel, I'm sure of it, and then I know I'm completely stopped. And the dog is still running, to the far side of the street to say hi to the black dog.
Hot adrenaline out to the palms of my hands on the wheel. The white dog circles close to the black dog, then back across the street in front of me toward his owner, a small woman with white hair, her arms out, hands open, fingers splayed.
At her angle and from the terror on her face and her arms outstretched, I can tell she doesn't know if the dog if OK. I want to tell her he's fine and heading back to her. For one more of those fractions of a moment, her eyes connect with mine through the passenger window. And I don't know why I do it, but I do it. I blow her a kiss.