As I step through the living room, something catches my eye through the big front window. It’s a young woman in cat eye sunglasses, with little mini Princess Leia buns in her dark hair, standing on my lawn. She’s grinning. She seems really intent on something, staring down. At her feet? At the grass? I can't see from my angle. Then she crouches, fast, disappearing from the window.
OK, this is kind of weird. What’s she doing out there? I don’t want to stare but, well, I want to stare.
I sidestep into the bedroom and peek through the curtains. I make the tiniest opening between the two curtains, just enough to fit my eye through.
There’s a big golden-haired dog lying on his back on the grass, paws up in the air, and the woman is petting him.
Oh. Well. That’s not as interesting as I thought it might be.
But now she straightens to standing again, and instead of moving off with her dog, she stays there facing my window, pulls a small sheath of papers from under her arm, holds it up, and starts reading.
The dog rolls around, happy, in the grass. The woman’s lips move.
A mystery in daylight, this woman with her eyes glued to her stack of pages, her pink sneakers on my lawn. Reading to the dog? Reciting an incantation? Singing to the dog?
Reading to herself the instructions she printed off the internet for teaching your dog to sit, stay, play dead?
But she doesn’t look like she’s just mouthing the words as she reads silently to herself. She looks posed, proper, her back straight, shoulders straight, head up, like she’s standing behind a podium.
A mystery is how she doesn’t seem at all concerned what anyone might think, standing on the lawn of someone she doesn’t know at two in the afternoon on a Sunday, orating to a dog.
A guy goes by on a bicycle, his eyes on the woman the whole time. I wonder if he can hear what she's saying.
She does seem to be directing it toward the dog, whatever she’s doing. Although I suppose she may be casting a spell on my rose bushes and the dog’s just along for the ride.
A mystery is how different twelve little inches mean to this scenario. How much less weird this would all feel if the woman were standing just a foot back, on the sidewalk. These invisible barriers we have, these unspoken rules. That is the sidewalk. This is my grass.
And she’s not hurting anything (unless she’s putting a hex on my rose bushes), but I do feel better when she’s stepped her shoes off my lawn and back onto the sidewalk.
Still, I’m a little sad to watch her head off and away, leaving just the mystery of it behind.
Off and away but then, just a few feet down the sidewalk in front of my neighbor’s house, she stops. The dog makes a happy hop and flops into the grass strip between the sidewalk and the street. The woman sits herself down on the half wall that encloses my neighbor’s lawn, pulls out her pages, leans in toward the dog, and starts to read again.