It was a long drive from Lowry, the yellowed-grass and nearly treeless former military base where I work, down Quebec, which can't seem to decide if it wants to be one lane or two, to the endless stretch of Hampden, which crosses over the wide lanes of I-25, down the hill to the golf course and on and on until it reaches Santa Fe, the final industrial-zoned stretch of road before I'm home. It is a grueling drive and not scenic at all. Rather I'm often choked by the diesel fumes belched out by the endless convoy of garbage trucks on their way to the landfill. The sky had turned into one long, asphalt-colored mass overhead, devoid of streaks or formations, and the first warm drops of rain were beginning to strike the windshield by the time I arrived, not enough to merit leaving the wipers on but just so much that they streaked and smeared without wiping clean away. The short walk from the car, parked under the Linden tree, which has already begun to shed it's yellowed leaves, up the thirty-seven steps to my front door, seemed impossibly long.
Until I looked up and spotted a familiar face in the darkened window, a pink tongue lolling out of a grinning mouth, ears perked up and alert.
Duncan was waiting for me, joyous and dancing. Before slipping the key into the lock and turning the knob I stood and listened to his feet on the tile, counted the erratic rhythm of his tail beating between the door and the wall, was grateful for the sound of him before my fingers had even touched the pointed top of his lovely head, felt the wetness and soft pressure of his mouth on my wrist as he pulled me inside.
I am home, I thought. I am home where I am safe. And loved.