The Night Before He Leaves For College

He puts boxes by the big chair in the living room.

When he brings down the long foamy thing, I wish it was mine. I’m tired of the same old mat they got me at Ocean State Job Lot.

Now he is outside fixing up his bike. Dad orders a new lock for the bike racks around campus. Bikes don’t interest me because no one takes me when they ride. I prefer to see her put on her sneakers and reach for my leash.

I can tell by the way he is stacking and rearranging things that this trip does not include me.

With paper towels and windex, he cleans out the tiny fridge which sat in the shed all summer. She tells him to use a sponge and comet; he says he knows what to do.

I sniff the bags of food when he isn’t looking. They never give me chocolate granola bars or cup-a-noodle soup.

He does some laundry, dribbles his new basketball, eats quesadillas at the dining room table.

I like the new orange shorts he is wearing. They are soft for my head on his lap. When he leaves, mom and dad will come home sad, off-balance, missing a limb.

I know he will be back, like his older brother, who doesn’t come into the house on each return visit until he has pet me for a very long time.

All summer she asks him questions. Does he have his room assignment? When is he going to start packing? What about his fish tank?

There was the night of the heated discussion between the three boys about a mac vs. windows laptop. So many opinions. How they stare at those devices hour after hour baffles me.

She has her usual lists, scribbled columns about laundry baskets, shower buckets, extra-long twin sheets. He was not interested, until now, the night before he leaves for college, finally putting his things in a pile. Me, doing my best to stand in his way.


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