The dog and I were on one of those walks, not long after she left, when
the dog nosed under the leaves at a thimble, packed with dirt, or so it
seemed, and leaning slightly to one side, enough so that if it rained, the
water would drain off. I picked it up thinking it might be antique, that she
might like it if I cleaned it up a bit, that I'd have good reason to call
her, so I set it on the workbench in the garage and flicked on the overhead
Under the magnifying glass, it was clear the outside dimples were also
filled with dirt, as was the filigree edge, but inside was a tiny village.
Thatched houses, steepled church and a little bridge that crossed a mini
ravine, lush with bushes, flowers and trees. I rigged a clamp light bright
and close. That's when tiny people appeared. They gathered in small groups
with tiny dogs at their feet, and they shielded their eyes, whispering and
pointing toward the sky. After much huddling, they lined up smiling and
At first I couldn't figure out what they were doing, but then it came to me.
They thought I was God. A huge brown eye peering down at them through thick
glass. Maybe the minister in the wee church described God looking like that.
Like my eye. And maybe he told the congregation that someday my eye would
look down on them. It startled me. I sat back, flicked off the clamp light,
and went inside to feed the dog.
I picked up the phone, punched in my wife's number. She'd know what to do.
She always had answers. She had answers to questions I never had. She used
to look at me like I was supposed to have answers, and if I didn't respond,
she'd keep looking at me and I'd keep looking back, but it didn't change
that I didn't have answers. Maybe I'm not one of those natural talkers. Did
she ever think of that?
The phone rang. She didn't pick up so I left a message, but I knew she
wouldn't believe me about the thimble. Who would?
After an hour, I took another look at my tiny village; the townsfolk from
earlier were still in a line, sitting on little blades of grass. They jumped
up, again smiling and waving. Maybe they were waiting for a delivery—a tiny
buzzing airplane dropping tiny bags of rice from fluttering parachutes. But
I didn't have tiny bags of rice.
I turned off the light. Went to bed. The dog snored.
When she moved out, she took half of everything. Like she wasn't coming
back. But I keep thinking she'll come back—move her half of everything back
in while I'm at work someday, and I'll come home and she'll be there tending
to the thimble people.
Julia Strayer has stories in or coming from Post Road, SmokeLong, Mid-American Review and
others. She's a past winner of the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers.
Read her postcard.
Detail of photo on main page courtesy
of Avital Pinnick.
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