Driving into the late afternoon sun, behind a young woman in a battered red sedan, we wait at a red light. She takes a drag from her cigarette, and when she exhales, evenly and slowly, the white-blue smoke bends at her windshield, spreading to the right and left, top and bottom. The brightness and angle of the sun show the swirls, floating, surrounding her, very beautiful in a ghostly, elegant, horrible way. It takes my breath away, figuratively; hers, eventually.


My smartphone has a sound generator app, the kind that is used to mask unpleasant noise and help people get to sleep. I cannot decide if it is the sweetest or the saddest thing that the only one that comforts me into rest, as the phone glows brightly against my white pillowcase, is the digitized sound of a cat purring.


"Buf! Buf...buf!"

My dog makes this sound if she senses any raccoons are lurking around our property, sort of a warning chatter that puffs out her cheeks; not quite bark-worthy, as she is by nature a very quiet and calm creature, but getting close to sounding a full alarm to her human family. It's funny and I smile at her bravado and seriousness of purpose. But surely in the six months that she survived on her own in a campsite before she came into a rescue program and to us, something had happened to make her so vigilant about protecting us from raccoons. I wish we could've found her sooner, I think, then I pet her head and tell her she is a good dog.