Maybe just a few more pages he thought. But after fighting sleep he promised himself to just get to the next paragraph break, the space giving you just a few breaths enough to put the book down.

Walking over to bedside, he stepped into his slippers and waved the leash to the old dog to come out for her last nightly walk. Neither of them had much energy left to do it, but if he didn’t take her out, then he would feel as bad as she would with what she had to do to make it thru thru the night.

Snapping the leash on her collar and dropping a small flashlight in his pocket, they walked out onto the grass, barely enough light from the thinning moon, to make his way with her down to the trees at the curb line. While she was rooting around the hostas growing wild at the stump of the old oak, he saw the front door open, the light eclipsing his son walking inside with his usual backpack slung over one shoulder. The door closed, leaving the entrance dark again, only the small bulb at the doorframed corner illuminating the step.

When the old dog was done, they came back inside where he unleashed her, watching her limp away back to her pad in the bedroom. Most lights were already off and he walked over the kitchen to snap off one of the last overheads. As he did, he felt his son moving behind him and as he turned, he saw the small blue flame under the pot on the stove.

“I made some steak earlier that’s left over,” he said, “you can have that if you’re hungry.”

His son shrugged, his back still turned, and replied “It’s a mac and cheese night,”  pulling a small box out of the pantry.

“You can cut up some steak and add it if you like,” he said again to another shrug as he walked away to the bedroom.

He picked up the book as he got into bed, the lamp on the nightstand giving him just enough luminescence to focus on the few pages left.

Just a few more, he thought, maybe just to the next paragraph break.

But his eyes started to close so he let the book down easily, spreading it open across his chest, palms down on the front and back covers, holding the book down, its wings embracing him, as he quickly fell asleep.

Man Reading (2)
John Singer Sargent
c. 1910

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