The clock ticks. The countertop herb garden’s pump grinds: it needs more water. The owner of the house grunts slightly as she rises from the couch, which creaks in response. The faucet gushes into life and there is a soft click as the woman fills a plastic pitcher. The rubber cap of the herb garden pops loose. Water dribbles into the dark cistern. Water meeting water – the splashes are muted by the container. A hiss: the grommet is sealed.
Ping. Pling. Plink. The faucet wasn’t turned off entirely. Drip by excruciatingly slow drip, water meets the metal of the sink basin.
The dog scratches himself, then shakes, ID and rabies tags jingling. He settles onto his bed with a soft flop. Slurping sounds emanate from it as he begins cleaning his privates.
The woman picks up her iPhone and texts a friend. The return sound is a whistle-ping. Ah, she’s using WhatsApp.
She is still in the kitchen. She opens the fridge and it, too, emits a soft pop – louder than the herb garden. She stares into the chilly, white, landscape of possibilities. She slides open the deli drawer with a faint sound of metal on plastic, extracts cheese in crinkly plastic, and swings the door shut. A low click means it bounced open again.
A few seconds later, there is beeping from the fridge. The woman takes several seconds to recognize the sound, then bumps the door closed with her hip: a soft thud, followed by a more solid one.
Outside, thunder rumbles. The dog grumbles in response. The woman hushes him.
Another beeping sound begins but it’s external, a neighbor backing their golf cart out of the carport. (The vehicle’s headlights double the illumination in the woman’s house.) The cart whirrrrs into forward motion that fades away.
Birds sing in the trees outside. A sandhill crane calls to its lover. An owl screeches a warning to a squirrel. Lizards come out and make their soft gek-gek-gek sounds. Bug-zappers across the back yard at that neighbor’s place make their distinctive sting-pzzt sound as mosquitoes meet a sudden and violent end.
(No one mourns the mosquitoes.)
Somewhere in the distance, an ambulance siren is heard, the doppler effect obscuring the direction it’s coming from.
Thunder rumbles louder, and there is the electrical crack of a close lightning strike.
The dog whimpers – he hates storms – and the woman picks him up and rocks him like a human infant. His tags and her bangle bracelets click, clack, clank together.
The clock ticks.