[dropcap]E[/dropcap]llie Mae paws at the back door, begging to go outside. She wants to chew a pinecone or two, maybe roll in something foul, like the carcass of a dead woodpecker, or perhaps dig a nice hole.

She leaps off the back stoop, and prances through the yard like royalty, high stepping. She’s outside for one minute and forty-two seconds before pawing at the back door.

I let her inside.

Ellie Mae bounds into the kitchen, walks in a small circle, scuffs her butt on the floor, and then stands with her nose pressed against the door.

I let her back outside.

She hops off the porch and rolls onto her back, kicking up sand. This time she’s outside for sixty-three seconds. Just long enough to eat a piece of poop and chase a squirrel.

She scratches on the door, staring through the window at me with sad eyes, ready to come inside.

This is my life.

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