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A Storm Is Coming
“Look at those clouds,” Charlie said to me, his head facing up towards the sky. “There’s a storm coming.”
I peeked my head out from behind the door and looked up with him. He was right. The clouds were big and ugly and black like the puffs of exhaust that billowed up from the pipes of my father’s truck. There would be rain, and lots of it.
“When?” I asked, keeping my eyes locked on the sky.
He was brief. He always had been, but he was always truthful and never wrong. The first few drops fell within minutes – big, fat splashes of water that splattered on the sidewalk and on the railing of the porch. They left round, wet stains, a few shades darker than the pavement around them. They must have felt so alone and out of place, falling so far apart like that.
More fell then, and we could hear them on the roof, heavy as if someone was dropping marbles above our heads. The ground outside grew darker, spotted like the backs of the little frogs I had when I was young.
The wind picked up, softly at first, humming outside the windows. It grew, whistling under the cracks in the doors; Charlie whistled along with it, a bittersweet harmony. He couldn’t match its volume, though, when the wind began to howl. Charlie told me it was coming to get me, and I giggled, but I wouldn’t admit that I wasn’t so sure whether it was a joke or not. I was always afraid that a tornado was going to pick me up and carry me away, over the rainbow. It worried me, because I knew that I wasn’t smart enough to make my way through Munchkinland all by myself, and ruby slippers had never quite been my style.
The river returned then, rushing through the rocks that lined the driveway. I suppose it was more of a stream than a river, really, but I was so small when I was young, and it had seemed so big then. The name had just stuck. I would sit beside it the day after a storm, sending leaves down into the forest where the trail of water ended. I liked to think that it really led to the ocean, and maybe if it got big enough, I could float away and live under the sea with The Little Mermaid, and maybe she would teach me how to flip my hair out of the water like she did when she got her legs in the movie. I always tried to toss it around like she did, but somehow, I only managed to succeed in splashing the people within ten feet of me and smacking anyone who got too close with my ponytail.
Unfortunately, though, it never rained enough to sweep me away, and I stayed at home where I belonged. But the rain continued to pound on the roof, and somehow I couldn’t help but hope that maybe a wave would come crashing down and carry me down the river and out to swim with Ariel. For some reason, I wasn’t afraid of the water. It was different from the wind – more reliable. Wind could carry me any way it pleased, up and down and to Oz and back, but there was only one place for water to go: down. Water always fell. It was something I could count on. I needed that.
“Do you think there’ll be a rainbow?” Charlie asked quietly, still staring out the window at the bullets of water that pounded the grass. I silently shook my head.
It was a silly question, but he always asked. He knew the exact conditions needed for a rainbow to stretch across the sky, and these were less than optimal. I guess he just liked to hope. Any time a few rain drops fell, he was at the window, wishing for a band of colors to appear on the horizon. I liked to see him so happy, even if I knew he was anticipating for something that would possibly never come.
We stood side by side, looking out the large bay window that faced the forest behind us. It seemed too dark to be real, filled with whispers and secrets that were only shared in the rain. It was quiet when it rained. Besides the splatter of water on leaves, there was nothing. It was so calming, yet at the same time so eerie. I didn’t understand how something that was so filled with life could be so perfectly and utterly silent. It just didn’t seem natural.
“Look,” I heard Charlie say, his voice low and soft. “Blue.”
I knew what he meant and turned my head in the same direction as his. Far, far in the distance, the western sky was clear again.
“When?” I asked, keeping my eyes locked on the sky.
He was brief. He always had been, but he was always truthful and never wrong. The drops slowed within minutes, morphing from a constant pounding to a rhythmic drizzle. I watched as the blue area of the sky grew, the churning clouds moving on to wreak havoc elsewhere. The river rushed through the rocks and into the forest, and for just a moment, I wished that I could dive in and swim to the sea.