"Why don't you go talk to them about the dog?" her daughter would say on her weekly phone calls. "There are leash laws, you know."
Marge didn't know why she didn't, except with so many new folk replacing the older generation on her street, she felt a stranger in her own neighborhood.
And this latest new family had moved into Ted's old house. Before he died, he'd been tethered to an oxygen machine and Marge would go over daily to tidy up his kitchen, and collect eggs from the chicken coop. Back when both their own kids were growing up, Ted's chickens had been a welcomed novelty on the suburban street. More so than now, when a backyard jacuzzi was more the rage. After Ted died, his kids sold the chickens and tore down the shed to prepare the house for sale.
But one day, as the old dog was moseying back home, he detoured off Marge's lawn into her brilliant flock of Montauk daisies.
That was the last straw. With her cane, she carefully made her way across the street.
There were trucks out front, and she could hear hammering.
A harried mother opened the door, a screaming baby on her hip. Yes?"
"I'm from across the street."
She nodded, though the hammering in the background was so loud, Marge didn't think she could hear her.
"Your DOG!" Marge yelled. "Your dog keeps running into my yard."
"Yes, I let him out once in a while."
"He does his business on my lawn, then..."
"I'm sorry," she said, cupping her ear, then nodding toward the noise in the background. "They're ripping out the kitchen."
The kitchen? Ted had built those cabinets himself fifty years ago. He was the one her husband had learned woodworking skills from, for all the birdhouses he built.
"What was wrong with the kitchen?" Marge asked.
"I'm sorry?" the mother said, as if she'd been asked something so personal, it was insulting. "It needed updating."
Marge leaned both hands on her cane."There are leash laws."
"He's very old."
"He destroyed my daisies."
The crying child stopped crying. He seemed suddenly fascinated by the old lady standing on their stoop.
"He could get hit by a car," Marge said.
The mother nodded. "He has kidney cancer. He's dying." Her eyes welled up a bit. "He won't hurt you."
"That's not..." But now that Marge knew the dog was dying, her daisies, the poop and garbage seemed petulant.
She gestured toward the squirming child. "I'll let you go."
The mother looked as if she was going to burst out crying. But not from the dog. From being overwhelmed. By perhaps all she'd taken on too soon to make her life too perfect. She just shook her head, "I'm sorry."
Marge remembered that. The baby years. The nesting. The longing for a perfection that never materlialized. Even back then, with her own newly renovated formica kitchen.
The dog stopped coming by a few weeks later. Marge almost missed him.
Until a chicken showed up in her yard. Leona. She'd been Ted's favorite.