Russell ducked under Hen’s big lilac bush. We were five today. It was late afternoon, and shadows fell across the yard.
Russell wore a pack.
“What is that?” asked May loudly.
Inside the pack was a baby.
“My brother, Oliver,” said Russell.
“You’ve seen him before.”
“I don’t like babies,” said May.
Russell smiled. He took Oliver out of his pack and sat him on his lap. “You’ll like Ollie,” he said. “There is not one bad thing about him.”
And as if Oliver had heard Russell, he smiled and pumped his arms up and down.
“I babysit for Ollie every day after school.”
Hen reached out and took Oliver’s hand.
“That’s why you don’t lay soccer?”
Oliver grinned and then reached out o May. May drew back.
“He likes you,” said Russell. “Here.” He handed Oliver over to May, who held him away from her, as if he were a package of trash. But Oliver didn’t care. He leaned closer and closer to May until his head lay on her shoulder. Slowly, May put her arms around him and closed her eyes.
“I think he’s wet,” she whispered finally.
“Of course he’s wet,” said Russell cheerfully. “He’s always wet. My babysitting time is over pretty soon. I’ll take him home and change him.”
May still held on to Oliver. She didn’t open her eyes. And when she did, she whispered to Russell again.
“That was a beautiful poem about your dog, Russell.”
Russell nodded and picked up Oliver. He ducked out from under the bush and put Oliver back in his pack.
“He was a good dog,” he said softly.
“What was his name?” asked May.
“Everett,” said Russell before he disappeared in the shadows.
There is a soft sweet smell here.
The smell of somewhere far away
I may have been one time but can’t remember.
It is a soft sweet smell.
Why is it I know it? Why is it so familiar?
I can almost reach out my hand to catch it.
But not quite.