The sun sets, the sky dims, the birds grow silent. The words pop up on the screen as though written by her computer, not by her at all. Is that the truth, she wonders, looking past the black table lamp and out the window. Does that really describe early evening?
To the west, on the other side of the house, the sky is yellowing with streaks of pink and mauve. But I’m not sure because I can’t see that from here, she thinks. What I see is a slope sinking into darkness, dark gray at the bottom and a lighter gray further up where it meets the road, lit by red treetops that still receive the last beams of sun. Is that true? Is that what evening looks like? The birds may feel it as encroaching cold, the bare branches as their daily portion of disappointment. What really is evening?
She thinks back to the early supper she had with Stan. She always asks him how his day went and he tells her in detail: McMurray called about the mortgage, Jane arrives from Colorado next week, the board meeting will take place Friday. And how was your day, he then asks. It took him the first few years of their marriage to learn to ask that question, only now that he asks it, she knows less and less how to answer.
“How was my day,” she reflects out loud. She cleaned up her desk, sent out emails on the housing project in the Cape, walked the dog, organized her files for the weekend conference, laundry. Was that her day? What about how bright the house looked in the afternoon on account of the snow outside? What about the mouse scurrying under the green suitcase in the basement as she came down to hang the sheets? The furrow on the chipmunk’s back as it huddled underneath the feeder, the dog’s tread on the wooden floor like something finally unsticking?
How was your day? What does evening look like? Sometimes she thinks it’s her limited vocabulary. But lately she concludes it may be her limited punctuation. She may not need that many words, but at the very least she requires another question mark or two to goad her into looking out again: What else is there? And what else? And what else?
By now it’s almost completely dark. Out front, on the other side of the house, a half moon rises, but that’s not what she sees from her window. What she sees is a loss of shape and definition, a deepening obscuration. Quick, before the night arrives, before it all disappears, what does evening look like?