The heat was so intense. The pavement was scorching, the very atmosphere was blazing and the only cool breeze came from a small, beat down, electric fan precariously balanced on top of a heap of books stacked on top of a desk.
“Just when were you planning on getting that oscillating fan? One of the big ones? Or better yet, how about getting the A/C fixed?”
She took a deep, trembling breath, sucking in the heat which sandpapered its way from her cracked tongue down her desert throat and blasted her wary lungs. There was only one way to get rid of air like that. She doubled over in a coughing fit, each convulsion and heave threatening to split her chest in two. She felt a cool hand on her head, closed her eyes and leaned into it gratefully.
“I think there’s enough money left over from last week’s paycheck for a decent fan, but I don’t think it’s enough for the A/C.” His baritone voice spoke gently into her ear, soothing her wariness and lending her enough strength to at least stand and cuddle against him.
“Jesus, sweetheart, I don’t think I can take this anymore. Why don’t we go out right now and get it? That new Walmart already opened, right?”
His hand absentmindedly stroked her head and traveled down her back once before stepping away. She swayed in the heat and sudden loneliness. Why had he moved away?
“Where are you going? We going out or not? I swear if we don’t get this fan today I’m staying at my mother’s and leaving you here. Not only does her A/C work, her apartment complex has two pools!”
“Take it easy”, his voice called from the bedroom, “I’m looking for the discounts we got in the mail the other day. I think there was one for…a-HA!”
He rushed out of the room, holding a sheet of paper over his head. Sweat ran down his face in rivulets and his breath came in short gasps, but it didn’t stop him from smiling that head splitting smile of his.
“It’s a twenty percent discount and it expires today. Let’s get dressed and get out of here.”
She moved towards him as if trying to walk the bottom of the ocean. He rushed back into the room before she could reach him. She heard his battle with the usually unhinged closet door and his exasperated grunts as he changed his clothes.
“I’m not getting out of these clothes. We’re only going to the store and it’s too hot for anything other than these shorts and wife beater…who named this, anyway? What a stupid name for clothes…”
He finally stepped out of the bedroom sporting clean shorts, T-shirt and sunglasses. He looked like a tourist.
In a whirlwind of activity, husband and wife turned off the small, beat down, electric fan precariously balanced on top of a heap of books stacked on top of a desk. They left the entire apartment closed tighter than a can of tuna and rushed out the door.
She still swayed where he had left her, heaving more heavy breaths, tongue lolling out, desperate for relief. She padded over to her empty bowl and nudged it with her dry nose, as if water would magically appear. A whine escaped from her throat, but soon it was too sore for even that. Her haunches dropped dejectedly and she sat, staring. She heard voices from afar and slowly became aware of a cool hand on her head, scratching just behind her ears.
“Oh, you poor baby, I’m so sorry!” His baritone voice filled her head.
“Honey, hurry up! She’ll be fine for a few minutes,” his wife screamed from outside.
He ignored her and quickly opened a few windows, filled her bowl with fresh water and added a few ice cubes from the freezer.
Her tail wagged slowly and then faster as she lapped the proffered drink. Her cracked tongue cooled and healed; her desert throat savored the oasis and her lungs didn’t quite burn as before.
His hand ran down her back and playfully tugged at her electric tail before stepping out into the overwhelming heat of the day.