We sat by the railway, reading our papers. Mine was from 1985. His from 2013. We were both reading about people who’d gotten away with murder, one way or another. My feet were warm inside my shoes.
Ashes were falling like snow, and the train was not going to come.
“So what’s new?” he asked me through cracked lips.
“There was a break in the grey yesterday. I saw some sun,” I said.
“Oh yeah? How was it?”
“Well, I’m not going to say it was bittersweet. That’s an obvious and a dumb thing to say, so I’m going with fickle. It was great, and it hurt. It was beautiful, sure, but it was temporary.”
“Nothing you can do about that,” he said, turning a page. He did so gingerly, making sure the rotten paper wouldn’t fall apart in his calloused hands.
“Yeah,” I said.
I very carefully laid my paper down on the ground and reclined back into the decaying wooden bench upon which I sat. I put my arms behind my head, and sucked in some of the crisp, dead air.
“And I had a dream last night,” I confessed.
“That’s the first in a while,” he said.
“I dreamt about this dog I had when I was a kid. His name was Max—this stupid little dachshund my sister was in love with. I was throwing around this big green ball, and he kept bringing it back to me. Every time he brought it back, it was more—I don’t know, hard to look at—fuzzy, I guess—but he kept running after it no matter what, till there was nothing really left.”
He looked over the newspaper. He leaned forward. “It’s not healthy for a grown man to dream about dogs anymore,” he said.