I listen. The house is quiet.
The only light comes from the overhead bulb, above the kitchen sink.
I left it on when I went to bed.
I listen for dogs breathing. I should be able to count 4 distinct breath styles.
I know if I move, all dogs will, too. And it will take the rest of the dark morning for everyone to settle down for a last hour of sleep.
Instead, I just stick my foot down to the end of the bed.
Toby always sleeps at the foot of the bed. Even tucked way down there, he takes up a lot of room.
He sleeps flat on his back, his four paws reaching up towards the ceiling. Sometimes his asthmatic breathing can be heard. But now, at 3 a.m., he sleeps quietly.
Shado. He usually sleeps on the bed, too.
Anywhere he wants.
Sometimes during the night he will bully his way up to the pillows and sleep across the headboard.
But not now.
I move my foot to the other side of the bed.
I listen again - listen to the silence that seems complete but isn't. In the silence I hear a symphony of dogs.
I roll over, from my left side to my right side.
Aha, Shado was sleeping behind me.
Okay. Two down, two dogs to go.
Sophie never sleeps on the bed. She often is on her doggy bed in the living room or on the tile floor in the kitchen. I'm betting this hot night, she is on the tile.
I am appease in thinking I know where she is.
Gus? Hmmm. He is harder to peg down. Being the biggest dog in the household, you'd think he would be the easiest to spot, but it never goes that way.
Often he sleeps on the dog bed in the bedroom. I peer into the darkness to see if I can see his shape there. But that part of the room is too dark.
So I still myself again. Count breaths. Since I had acknowledge Toby's and Shado's, and I imagine Sophie's sleep, I could stay still and listen for the fourth one. This would take a lot of concentration. I look at the clock before settling into the listening task. It is 3:07 a.m.
I stretch out on my back, my head slightly elevated on the bed's pillow. And I listen. Again, I count of breaths. Toby, check. Shado, check. Gus?
Come on, Gus. Where are you? Should I be able to hear you?
No wavelengths bring me Gus' breathing.
I appease myself, thinking he is sleeping in the bathroom tile.
Of course he is! He sleeps much of the summer day, and probably most of the night.
Sure, I know he is in the guest bathroom, on the tile. He even pushes the bathroom rug aside to expose more tile for his big body.
He sleeps there.
The neighbor leaves for work at 5:25 a.m. I usually hear his truck - a diesel pick up - when he starts it. Some mornings he leaves it idle for 4-5 minutes, other mornings he immediately backs out his drive way and heads down the street. I wonder which he will do today... idle or leave immediately?
I plan out the coming day. The back yard needs mowed. The front yard was mowed yesterday, so the job is half done. I put that on my list. An excessive heat warning is posted for the day, so mowing better be first on the list.
The house needs vacuumed of dog fur again. I skipped doing so yesterday. The tile floors need mopped again. I put that on my list.
Time for treadmill? Of course, if I make the time, that is.
Leave home about 10:10 for the west valley. It should take 45-50 minutes to get to Fran's house. I re-envision the google map with directions to her house. Piece of cake.
And then another 25 minutes out to our destination in the next town. That route is a bit more foggy in my mind. I map it out two, three times. Ok - it will work out fine.
Then back home by 6 p.m.
But stop by the grocery store first. Milk, bananas, salmon, chicken breasts. Wait, no salmon until the weekend. We won't eat it until Sunday, so I'll get it fresh then.
Now what... put Morning Edition on the radio and listen until dawn? Maybe not. I just remain still and count dogs.
For once, goblins and locked up memories don't suggest I come visit. For once, I am at peace at 3:28.
Wide awake, but at peace.