Winter Birds

Friday nights, when Risa works her double at Garvey’s, are the hardest. They’re the nights she asks the most of Wade, back at home with her mother, and the nights he always lets her down in some way. Tonight when she pulls in, Wade’s truck is gone. The thick, deep tread marks he cut into the mud hours earlier have nearly frozen solid. Risa turns the key, deadening the engine, and climbs from the Jeep. Roscoe, eyes glinting, steps out of the makeshift doghouse Wade built and limps across the yard. Wade believes many things. Among them: that dogs were made for outdoors. At Thanksgiving he stood up from the table without warning, dumped his plate into the trash, and went out into the cold. For hours he cut and sawed and measured, smoking cigarettes the whole time, until he’d finished the crude plywood doghouse.

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