I told the woman dragging an inflated pool through my yard I would give her a ride. She had a huge green pitbull. The pool was turquoise and I was afraid it’d rupture against a sharp rock.

“If it’ll fit in my car,” I said. I knew it wouldn’t, and I pictured tying it to the roof, rope folding it in half as I accelerated.

“Have you heard of my uncle?” she asked. “He kept his stairs with him wherever he moved. Every new house he’d replace the stairs with his black wrought iron spiral. I think it was his way of maintaining control over chaos.”

“Is that what you’re doing with the pool?”

“No, I just want to enter into a race. Roll down the river with it. I have this paddle too.”

The dog just sat there, his blue-gray gaze flashing. I noticed the crease between his eyes. The white spot of fur on his chest.

“If I could paint him, I would. To remember him.” I was talking about the dog. I wondered how he’d fare on the river. His nails looked sharp. “Let’s eat before we go.”

At dinner I swooned over the patina of the cabinets as if I’d never lived in my own house. Hardware made of skeleton keys. Warm wood. Shine of antique. I scooped some feta and pita onto my plate. Held some out for the dog under the table. His tongue felt velvet.

A black and white photo of the uncle’s stairs adorned the table. A postcard from a family album. The squares in the checkered floor reminded me of a chessboard. I was standing at the bottom, looking up. There was no ceiling. The clouds were a council of Gods.

The pool used as a boat.

“I’m paying for this,” I told her. Felt the coin heating up in my palm.

Jessica Purdy is the author of STARLAND and Sleep in a Strange House (Nixes Mate). Murder in the House, a pamphlet of poems on the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death was released by Buttonhook Press in 2022. Her chapbook The Adorable Knife is forthcoming from Grey Book Press. Her ekphrastic chapbook You’re Never the Same will be released by Seven Kitchens Press. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Her poems and flash fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in On the Seawall, Litro, Gone Lawn, MER, and Radar