It’s impossible to convince him that WOOF is not the name of coffee. When he wakes up and sees me gathering myself, finding my robe and my flip flops, he smiles from his night nesting spot under the red pillow because he knows I’m going downstairs to make coffee or WOOF as he says, having lost the word coffee along with a trunkful of other important words.
We are down to just a lucky few stand out words that readily explain themselves. Like WOOF and baseball. Dog and truck.
Coffee and bills are gone. So are sidewalk and mushroom. There is no pattern. We just wake up one day and another thing goes missing, becomes nameless, so we stop naming it and then, pretty soon, we stop thinking about it. It seems to remove a lot of clutter from ourselves. We are much less cluttered. Streamlined people. Sharp and thin.
“What are you writing about?”
“I’m writing about you having Alzheimer’s.”
“I don’t have Alzheimer’s. Or are you trying to tell me something?”
“Relax, it’s a story. Fiction. It’s for Yeah Write.”
“Don’t you think Alzheimer’s stories have been done to death?
“There’s always room for a new angle. Like how a couple’s gradually shrinking vocabulary changes their relationship.”
Life outside seems to go on without us. The men are replacing the steps on our front porch. I hear them pounding the boards into place. The porch is someplace we go. We watch the people on what used to be the sidewalk but now is a mysterious paved space. The other side of the street has one, too, a straight path that people go on. It keeps them from hurting the grass with their feet. I think it’s a good system.
“When will you be done with your piece? Should I start making dinner?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know where it’s going. It’s different than where it started.”
“Maybe you could look at where it started and plan it out, what happens first, then second and then the end. People do that, you know, writers do that.”
“I could do that.”
When I come back upstairs, I bring two cups, one for me and one for him. His cup has dogs on it, his favorite, and tells him what’s in the cup, WOOF. It makes me happy, bringing him his WOOF, making him happy. It’s such a little perfect thing.