I have been hiding Penny's poop all over town, under dirt, dried leaves and even corn husks.
After the first snow storm, I thought I was golden for months. Clean white snow balls to coat the poop like confectionery sugar. No one will ever know.
But this morning, I ran past one of Penny's poops. It had scattered all over a stranger's front yard.
How could this happen? I covered it with snow!
Snow is deceptive. It preserves poop like the toilet paper cloths once used to mummify ancient Egyptians. And one day soon, Penny's poop will defrost and come back to life. It will be everywhere and everyone living in our walking proximity will know that it was me hiding the poop. Me pretending to retrieve a plastic bag from my empty pocket whenever anyone drives by while Penny is squatting. Me scooping snow; shoveling dirt and gathering dried leaves. Me hiding Penny's poop all over town. Me.
I will remove this poop before anyone sees, I decide, and if anyone sees, they will applaud my honesty. I bring Penny home. I grab my keys and snow shovel and drive to this person's front yard. I put the car's flashers on to be safe and move like a ninja in my black spandex. One quick scoop, I tell myself. But the poop is frozen like little reindeer lawn ornaments and when I try to shovel them up, they skate and scatter.
I begin to panic.
My words run through my head for when this homeowner comes outside to ask why I am shoveling his yard. "Hi there, I was walking my dog here the other night and I had run out of doggy poop bags because she had already gone earlier in the walk and she went on your lawn. I meant to come back to clean it up, but it completely slipped my mind. So today when I was running by, I remembered and went home for my shovel. I'm really very sorry. I usually ALWAYS have my doggy bags with me."
I often think up elaborately realistic lies for why I am late or why I am doing something wrong, but I never actually say them aloud to the person. Usually I just run away, mumbling an awkward apology.
I have been in this stranger's yard for too long now.
Crouching, I stare the poop down. I consider picking it up with my fingers. It's covered in ice, I think reaching. It's still poop, I remember pausing. I grab a ball of ice and guide the poop into the shovel. This technique works.
Next house: horse farm.
This poop has only been there for an hour, but it is already frozen to the snow. I just need to get one big shovel full of snow and poop, I think, as the shovel bounces against the ice.
Three horses watch me, standing in their feces. Why am I trying to remove poop from a horse farm? Because I am a good neighbor and responsible citizen.
I push the shovel into a couple inches of ice and pull its handle down. It doesn't move. I try again harder. This time the shovel cracks into the ice and shoots Penny's anti-celebratory confetti high into the air. Chunks rain down over me.
I run for the car, cursing myself.