The Land of Nowhere

February 4, 2008
By Alyx Chandler, Madison, AL

You see, my dog is mostly human. He curls up like a cat in your lap and rests his floppy head on your silky pillows and eats cream cheese and all the leftovers right on top of his dog food. He’ll shake your hand and kiss you on the cheek, just like you were Royal, and he sits real tall beside you, his head cocked to the all-too-blue sky, protection quivering in his legs. You see, he even sleeps in my parent’s bed and will dance with you, collapsing on two dirty paws, when the music is up so loud that your dad yells at you to turn it down NOW. He’s a light orange, like the color sun burnt sand would have. A brilliant white fur coat drapes over the rest of his body.
I still think it’s his eyes. They are the same color as the clear water in a stream. The intensity they hold--you wouldn’t think they were dog eyes. Sometimes I decide to take him for walks, to let those eyes see some of the real world.
It’s always the same. Stop. Leg up. Pee. Every mailbox. Never skips a single one.
And he leads the way. Same route. First to Mrs. Teresa, who is always having construction done to her yard. Personally, I thought it was just fine the first time, a thin row of violets, pebble curved sidewalk, cheap bird fountain. But I guess I might be sick of staring at the same weedy plants and washed out beauty for all those years if I were her too. Out the open window, blouse clinging my shoulders with sweat, Chandlerspirit ready to be young again. She liked change, even just a little at a time. So did I.
We drag our way to Poopgirl next. I don’t know her real name, but when I was in third grade she used to pick all of the dog poop out of people’s yards and stick them in someone’s mailbox, rolled up is last week’s damp newspaper. Specifically someone she didn’t like. Our mailbox stayed clean. Most of the time.
I’ll be running around the block with my dog, second mile, the sky ripping underneath the red and orange, the angry knot in my stomach opening, anger burning like fire inside me. The same color as the sunset. And there she is, curled up close inside her open window, her spiked red hair spraying the fire all the way into the sky and into my heart. A cigarette in her mouth, a cell phone stuck to her jeweled ear, her tiny little dog snoozing in her arms.
That’s how it goes every time I see her, so I can’t help but to wonder every now and then. Her tight jeans and blackened eyes. Just staring at the sky everyday. Is she dreaming? Or just sitting there, dying in a real slow way? Does she think about love and hope and all those things that never come true? Or is she just letting her cigarette kiss the night sky, blowing away the clean lies that drift silently into her washed-out window?
I stumble along now, past Richard. He’s supposed to be in eleventh grade, but he’s still at middle school. Pant’s way past his knees, with one of those real expensive shirts that look more like dress. The perfect black punk image. Always getting busted by the police, bringing those little petite white girls home late Friday night. One time though, when I was late to school, we both were practically running to be there in time.
Seven-fifty-seven, he said suddenly, sliding the rusty words through my ears.
I know I jumped at least a foot. He hadn’t talked to me for years—not since I moved here. Yet, I found his voice crumbly and country, not exactly fitting his image. We both straggled in the door that day, right as they were locking up.
But now, whenever I ride with my mom, and here comes Richard, barely five minutes to spare, I always smile at him, and pretend to check my watch. He just grins all normal-like. I’ve never seen him grin before. Who’s hiding under those wrecked eyes? Depressants shoot into his system. It’s so obvious.
Once in a while though, I’ll just be walking, real quiet-like and careful. And there’s the two of them. Poopgirl and Richard. Smoking God-knows-what, leaning against a shady, hidden house. Not talking. Just gazing off into the Land of Nowhere. Nowhere seems like an awful lonely place to me, so I just let my dog keep leading me before I am sucked into their Land of Nowhere. Before the fire in this world burns away into the crimson sunset.

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