Lately, there has been a barred owl in the park across the street. Walking the dog after work, we noticed him on the ground. When he saw the dog, he spread his wings, mottled brown and white, and swooped up into a tree. He perched himself on a branch, looking down at us as we looked up at him. His head slightly cocked to the side, yellow eyes wide, his chin pressed to meet his neck, wings folded down and back. The way Grandpa used to walk, to stroll, observant and smart, hands loosely clasped behind him. The owl looks completely devoid of judgment, full of attention and concern.

For one week, he is in the park every night after work. It feels special, as though he is there to see only us. I have to search for him because he does not sit in the same tree. The streetlamps give off enough light for me to find him. Then, one night he is gone, seen enough to know the end of a story.


A young man and woman walk their big black dog here every night. They drive up in their car between 10:30 and 11:30, sometimes later. Some nights they come in the same car, other nights two. Whoever gets out of the car first waits for the other before going inside to get the dog. If there is no one else around, they let the big black dog off the rope. He runs fast, head down, nose in the grass. He runs as though his nose is attached to the earth, pulled forward by some invisible force. His feet only follow. The man and woman like to play a game of hide-and-seek with the big black dog. They hide behind trees. The dog, minding his own merriness, does not notice right away. Then, all of a sudden, he lifts his head from the grass, proving his nose is not attached after all. He holds his head high, still, like an opossum playing dead. After a moment, he snaps his head right, then left. The man and woman are nowhere to be found. The big black dog starts to cry, a sad whimper I don’t expect from a beast so solid and strong. He scurries frantically this way, then the other. The man behind the tree fakes a cough. The big black dog goes still again, processing, then bolts in the direction of the coughing tree. The man steps out from behind the tree, and the big black dog jumps up to him. All four feet leave the ground. The man and woman let out a laugh. He says to the big black dog in a silly voice, “Desperation is a stinky cologne.”

I have seen the two walk holding hands, stop under a streetlamp and kiss. I have seen him pick flowers that she carries inside.

One night in winter I hear the woman say, “The world outside is scarier when it is cold.”

Another night, the man tells the woman of a local musician who changed the lyrics to an old song. “He changed grow to groan,” he said, “I like it better that way—All born to groan and groan to die.

Then there is the night the big black dog runs into the bushes bordering the park. The man yells, “No! No!” but the dog does not listen. The man and woman can tell from the intentness of his run and the ensuing rustling that he is after something and catches it. They fear what it will be. Another dog? The neighbor’s cat? Finally, the big black dog romps over to the man and woman, an opossum in his mouth. A small head with a pointy nose and two dark eyes joggles from one side of the running dog’s jowls. A long, naked tail swings from the other. The big black dog drops the opossum at the man’s feet. Its fur is white and gray, matted down and clumped with slobber. I can see the creature is still breathing. The man notices too. Without a word, the man picks up his foot and stomps, one strong, intentioned stamp, on the opossum’s skull. The woman cannot take it; she begins to cry, hands over mouth, and runs inside. The man calls after her, but she does not wait. He hangs his head, hooks the dog on the rope, and walks toward home.

Lately, the man talks mostly of work. She looks into the trees.


Georgie Hunt’s writing has appeared in Prick of the Spindle, NANO Fiction, and River Teeth’s “Beautiful Things.” She was a finalist in Black Warrior Review’s 11th Annual Nonfiction Contest. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

Photo by Heather Kresge