Credit: Lydia Fu

He returns to her apartment with his whole body vibrating at the joy of being a good boy, a clever boy, and finding his way home. His leash is still attached to his collar, though it is wet and discolored from dragging in the streets.

Ivan has not answered his cell phone in over 12 hours, not since he left this morning in his blue windbreaker, dog tugging him out the door before he could even kiss her goodbye, and he had called out—what? What had he called out? The wind had been loud, had crackled against the loose window frames.

She falls to her knees when she sees the dog, holds his big head between her hands, lets his broad pink tongue wet her face. She’d always wanted a big dog, and she’s proud of her ability to keep him under control in the city. Look, sit. Look, heel. Look at what a good boy, what a clever boy.

But where is Ivan?

She thinks out loud—a mugging, a car accident, or maybe, maybe, Ivan tied the dog up outside of some cafe while he grabbed a cup of coffee and the dog pulled loose and now Ivan is out looking for the dog—yes, that has to be it. And she calls Ivan’s phone again, where it goes straight to voice mail, and she starts to leave a message but only gets out a breathy syllable, a hissed beginning of hello, before she hangs up.

She sits backward on the couch facing the lake. The dog has his head in her lap. He cannot believe his luck, to be allowed above the floor. She strokes his ears absently, watching the gray waves fade to the gray sky.

Her phone vibrates. They have found the body in the lake.

It’s the windbreaker the woman says she noticed, a flash of blue in the waves, and then—horribly—the pale fluttering of a limp human hand.

Two police officers with legal pads offer hushed explanations. The dog chews a bone. The wind crackles the windows. No foul play suspected. Strong wind today. Strong current. Strong dog.

She stands at the window and faces the lake. The dog whines. Good boy, clever boy, finding his way home. She always wanted a big dog. She always wanted a view of the lake.

She thinks, as she stares out the window, that tomorrow when everyone has gone she will bring a suitcase of her things to the lakefront and drop them in one by one—a dictionary, a moccasin, a pair of knit gloves. She will pay attention to what floats and what sinks, what the water claims and what it gives back.   v