Friday, July 30, 2010

Letters to Punkin: Immediate Storm

Letters to Punkin: Immediate Storm

Immediate Storm

"You standin' on the front porch prayin' for rain?" Russell was yelling from his house across the road. We all looked up smiling. Zuzu and Asher were in the yard, arms outstretched, hoping to get a bit damp.

"We're doing a rain dance," I yelled back.
"We sho' do need it. Do one for me too."  Russell turned and took his wife Jane by the hand to help her down the steps. Jane had recently won another round with bone cancer, but the chemo left her feeble and a bit off balance. They carefully made their way to the car. Russell held her hand while she steadied herself and crept in.

"We'll do. Y'all be's gonna rain," I said as they were driving away. A triple flash of lightning lit up the northwestern part of the sky. The kids started counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...then a rumble of thunder. 

"Daddy, does that mean it's comin' closer, or goin' away?" Zuzu was looking up from the front sidewalk. I could see the darker spots on her shirt where the first drops had fallen. 

"Well, let's wait for another flash and we can compare how long it takes to thunder again," said Nathan as he scanned the darkening skies. He had just gotten home from working four hours away in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. He had been gone for three nights so the kids and I were happily welcoming him home. Since he'd walked in the door, it was one question after another or a very excited summary of the last few days. Nathan didn't mind the onslaught  of information, though. He answered every question and inserted the proper "wow" or "oh" where needed.

Then, a bolt of lightning. This time it was just over the horizon of the trees beside the house. 1, 2, 3, 4....BOOM! 
"I think that means, whoa! Y'all come up here with us," I said as more flashes filled the air around us and disorganized rolls of thunder sounded from all directions. "Let's just watch it from the porch, kids"

Zuzu and Asher ran up the steps and stood next to us as the wind picked up and plump, round droplets of water fell to the ground. The thunder and lightning were coming so frequently that we couldn't tell which boom went with what flash. The wind was strong enough to sway the trees, but it still seemed safe in our haven on the porch. 

"Get in the house. Get in the HOUSE!" Nathan had his back against the wall of the house and the kids turned to shield their eyes from the dust that began pelting our faces. I was looking at the silver maple in Russell's yard when the leaves and bows began to whip wildly back and forth as a wall of opaque wind and rain rushed straight at us with the force of a hurricane. It only took one or two seconds at the most, but everything seemed to move in slow motion. 

"Get in the house!" I reached for the handle to usher the kids inside, but the wind was so strong it pushed the door shut again. The trees next to the house were bending in frantic, low, unnatural ways. The creaking and moaning that came from the branches seemed to echo the warning that something bad was about to happen. I muscled my way through the wind and opened the door as dirt and leaves were thrown into my mouth and eyes. We pushed our way into the foyer and shut the door behind us.

Moments later, as we were huddled in the basement, the sound of a bird chattering signaled that the worst was over. Nathan, Zuzu, Asher, and I carefully stepped outside to assess the damage, completely forgetting that dinner was cold on the table. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"What the Leaves Won't Hold" (Part 7)

I heard the thunder rumbling somewhere far away. I hadn't put much faith in the rains actually wetting the
patches of dirt that dotted what used to be a lush and thriving garden. "What are we doing?" I wasn't sure if  I
said that out loud. I thought it had come out as a whisper, but it could have just been a loud thought. I said
those words to myself so much I couldn't be sure anymore whether they came out.
"Life is too short." Was that your voice or mine? I knew you must be feeling the same cold rush of time blow
past your face. How could you not? "We'll have her for less time now than we have had until this point." That
was me. That one I couldn't keep in.
I walked outside to see how far away the dark clouds were. I could feel the temperature dip and the wind
tousle my hair as the first drops fell. "It's a shame, not knowing what you should know in the first place. No
one understands until it's over." You always made sense. A loud crack of thunder, a flash of lightning, and the
skies opened. I thought the porch would keep us dry, but the rain poured in sideways soaking us both.
"When you're in it, you're not aware of everything sliding past you. You just laugh and go on like it will be that
way forever. Then, one day, you look at the faces of these people and realize they've changed. Everything is
different and you've got nothing to show for the passing time."
A pause in the downpour effectively caused a lull in the conversation. It was the deep breath before the
"What are we doing?" It didn't matter who said it anymore. The fact that it was being said at all was enough. The rain was all but gone now. It wasn’t enough to do much good for very long. My eyes burned as I watched your mouth form the words, but all I could hear were a few droplets the silver maple beside our house clung to as it reluctantly gave up and let them fall.

Some sort of grid with numbers and signs.

Some sort of grid with numbers and signs.