Vibrato

In the alleyway, Phil is dancing.

Dief looks through his own reflection, head tipped sideways. His ears perk forward in the memory of hearing, and he does hear, in a way, Phil's worn work boots slapping, loose-soled, on the asphalt in the rain. Dief hears through the pads of his feet and his nose against the glass. He feels the sound of Phil dancing in the alley under a narrow strip of curdled sky. Trapped in the alley, the wind whirls and sends a panicked clatter of sleet into the window. Fractured and glowing in the tiny prisms of ice, drawn long and wavering in the slow downward sliding of rain, Phil keeps dancing. He's wearing a trench coat and it's already too wet to swirl with his motion and instead sticks to his legs. He holds his arms out at his sides and stomps through his dance. Puddles around his boots break upward against the rain.

Floating above him in the window, reflected and blank where his own shadows meet the darker ones outside, Fraser is leaning back against the counter beside the stove. The low sighing of the water ready to boil. His breathing. The murmur of voices as he turns the page of the journal in his hands. Dief can hear this, too, an agitation on the skin. Under the skin. In the bone. In the hollows.

Phil comes to the end of the alley and drums his open hands on the sagging plank fence. Then he turns and heads back he way he came, stomping with his head bowed, water drawing him downward. Fraser turns another page.

Dief knows he's there without shifting his gaze. The presence is a tremor along the raised tips of his fur. It's as it always is: there's a moment when space buckles inside Fraser, opens, and a coldness leaks out, the kind that comes when a body that has warmed you has gone, and then the other Fraser is there, in the window, too. For a moment, Fraser looks up from the journal and both faces occupy the same space in the pane. Fraser looks out at the night through his father's eyes; his father looks in through Fraser's. Their lips move, and the father says, "Wind's shifting. I can feel it." And then their lips move again and Fraser says, "You do?" There's hope in the upward arch of his eyebrows. "You feel it?" Rain and ice and wind against the glass. The water in Fraser's kettle breaks into a boil and the whistle is a thin, blind fumbling in the air. "No, I don't suppose I do," the father says. Fraser's disappointment draws his father's face into a frown. Dief's fur rises again, trapping heat against the chill of loss. Fraser bows his head and closes the book. The window reflects only Dief and Fraser's back as he walks away.

Down in the alleyway, Phil holds his arms wide and looks up unblinking into the rain. His feet shuffle him forward as he dances to the music in his head, and the rhythm shivers through concrete, rises upward against the downpull of the rain to the window where Dief listens to the vibrations of yearning, his head tipped sideways, nose against the glass.

THE END


Notes:  I'm listening to "dream body" by the Gordon Brothers on a continuous loop, so this is really just a little mood piece that goes with that. (You can hear a bit of it if you go to the Amazon sample listing page here, in case you're interested in knowing what Phil is dancing to.

Feedback welcomed at troyswann@yahoo.ca.

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