A Storyby Allen Wier
Late afternoons before Dale got back from the clinic, Liza stood at the screen door, sipping wine and listening for calls from the wild turkeys that lived in the woods beyond the furrowed fields. She wasn’t raised beneath mountains that dimmed the daylight and hemmed you in. Dale had brought her out here in late spring, after he graduated and got certified as a dental assistant. He subscribed to several outdoorsman magazines that he flipped through and Liza read. Toms, she learned, gobble to declare their dominance, often gurgling when they leave the roost. Dale bought an old-fashioned long-box turkey call but soon got bored trying to make it mimic turkey sounds. Nights after he went to bed, as Liza sat at the kitchen table holding the box and scraping the walnut paddle against the mahogany lid, she listened for her husband to turn over in bed, or cough, or snore. She listened for him padding barefoot down the stairs to join her in the kitchen. But when Dale’s head hit the pillow, he slept like a teenager, dead to the world. When she eventually climbed into bed beside him, he didn’t stir. Liza woke to every sound: wind in the chimney, the old house settling, a hound’s distant baying. Not married a year yet, in the first few months she’d tried on occasion to wake him to go see what some noise might be, but she could never shake him hard enough. Yet when his alarm buzzed at 6:00 a.m. he got up and walked straight into the shower. Since she’d known him Dale had never been late to work, much less taken a day off. During a crisis—accident or serious illness—she thought reliability might seem heroic, but workaday reliability gets dull.