Life Is Easy

by Tom Swift

You think the next day of the man in the jacket on a hot afternoon standing on the pavement who turned to you and told you about his two dachshunds. He chuckled at the thought. The dachshunds are 14 and 16 and years old, respectively, he said, they are father and son, barely more than a year apart. He laughed again and his eyes reached for his wife, who stood there, too, as he told of another dachshund they had some years ago — how many, honey? — who lived to be 20. The man smiled so easily, so comfortably, as if he knew something you didn’t and that something was good, really good. His wife, too, was not stingy with her smile. She wore a bright yellow shirt. She added that the dachshunds had German names because they were German dogs. You could not understand the German names she spoke but it was OK, all just fine. Just then, their adult son had crossed the street and approached us. They took him in as if he were part of the breeze. He was much taller than they. They waited at the bus stop. The three of them were going to take the bus. They smiled so easily. You sensed that in our categorical world all three would, somewhere on some official forms in some office or hospital, have long been documented as having a cognitive impairment. Yet it was you at that moment who fought a battle in your head, who kicked around petty concerns and uncomfortable sensations, the sorts of voluntary attentions that keep you at such moments from offering your own easy smiles and telling stories and soaking in the warmth that is all around, readily available to be found, by you, for you, always.