I needed to move, so I grabbed the leash, fitted the harness on the dog, and walked down the path.

The day was clear, warm with just enough of a breeze to keep cool. To my surprise, the dog park was empty when we arrived.

Not being particularly social, my dog was happy enough to wander through the bushes and woodchips on his own, while I sat under the shade of the trellis to read.

They came sometime later – one can never really tell time when one is reading – the tan, weathered couple and their equally weathered dog. Allie, I learned her name was. She lumbered over and looked at me with sweet, round brown eyes. I scratched her coarse black fur, and we were friends.

I remarked on the weather, the strange emptiness of the dog park, and set my book down. The woman sat across from me and we talked dogs. Her husband faced out into the park, quiet, only turning round when the woman mentioned that he was always alpha to the dogs, not her.

The conversation evolved, casually mentioned details provoking questions and growing into stories. I told her about school, my love of storytelling, my half-formed dreams for the future. She told me of her past, studying Psychology, teaching. Somehow, I was at ease with this stranger.

When Allie laid down, that was the cue to leave. The woman shook my hand, asking my name, and introduced her husband, Chuck. “I’m sorry,” I said, “but I didn’t catch your name.”

“Oh, I’m Gail,” she said, and they left the dog park.