I watch Murdoch from the door, stand to the side of the big window at its center to cut the glare from the light in the kitchen behind me. His black shape sits at the edge of the deck, hints of gold about him from the outside light that encompasses him, his back is to the door. He stares out into the darkness.
He would sit there for hours I think sometimes, especially now, this time of year as the ice melts and streams run through the woods, past the house carrying earthy scents of things long dormant beneath layers of snow. Murdoch would like to just wander, be free to come and go as he pleases, while I sit at home sick with worry.
He comes inside and then five minutes later he tells me he is desperate to go out again, imploring brown eyes, excited toe-tapping, stealing socks and bringing them to me.
“Do you need to pee?” I ask, even though I know he doesn’t. But his ears perk up, his mouth snaps shut, his eyes sparkle and bore into mine. “Yes. Yes I do,” he says and spins on the spot, trots towards the door, throwing glances over his shoulder to make sure I am following.
I clip him to his line and he marches across the threshold from the warmth of the house to the crisp snap of evening air, hints of snow and decaying leaves. And then he sits at the edge of the deck staring into the dark.
What does he smell, I wonder, his nose in the air, head gently bobbing as he inhales the evening. And, as I always do, I wonder if he is happy, if he imagines a different life for himself, one full of adventure, living on the land, always on the move. There is a part of me that wants that too. I imagine us together sometimes, just wandering the world, through forests and over mountains, companions at large, travelers, explorers.
We would build fires at night to keep warm, find soft, sheltered places to sleep, watch the stars and listen to the woods come alive. We would be separate and together. We are similar like that, very much liking our own space but appreciative of company too, being able to share individual discoveries.
I stand at the door and watch Murdoch sitting on the deck, his satiny black fur catching the light here and there, his edges blending into the darkness beyond. Part of me wants to sit there with him, stare into the night, smell the spring air on his fur and I wish, not for the first time, that he could tell me what he is thinking.