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Darkness was expected, but today was one of extra gloom. The sky was dark grey, almost purple, like the bruise on my leg from bumping into the coffee table last night. I could feel it under the pressure of my skin-tight jeans as the thought crossed my mind. In the past, my legs were regularly decorated with bruises from playing outside, but now they were a rare appearance.


The grass beneath the dusty sky was basically nonexistent nowadays – not from a lack of rain, there was plenty of that, but from the absence of light. We hadn’t seen anything more than a faint silver glow between ashy clouds a couple of weeks ago when the wind parted them slightly. I almost thought I felt some warmth from the dimness, but I can’t be sure. I don’t think I’d even recognize the feeling on my skin anymore. The storm had been constant for nearly ninety days, and it didn’t show signs of stopping.


Rain spattered on my mother’s front door, sounding sharp and icy. I observed their impact on the brightly-colored stained glass that made up the window nestled on the top half of the door. The many individual pieces fit together perfectly to form a bouquet of flowers in a lush jade garden. The memory of sweet floral aromas filling my nose makes my eyes close. The soft, rubbery feeling of the petals between my fingertips; the water squishing out as I squeeze the leaves. I long to play in the dirt while I tend to my backyard garden, but it’s a mud pit out there now.


My mother hums a tune in the kitchen behind me, drawing my attention inside. Her wooden utensils bang on metal bowls and ceramic plates, tinkling like a wind chime in a ravenous hurricane. My father, his brother, and my two cousins sit in the living room, the TV letting out a mumble of tones, their eyes glued to the glowing screen. I didn’t much enjoy the television. I preferred to watch the rain. The news reporter’s distractions from the storm made my stomach hollow. I knew there was no sense in dwelling on the inevitable, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t help it today.


I tuck my knees into my chest. The cement floor beneath me is cold, but I don’t care. I’m used to being cold. The wind howls and rain slams into the window like bullets, sounding like a war zone outside my door. I try to envision warriors fighting the clouds, shooting them so they will go away, their bullets piercing the fluffy surface, flying through its volume and leaving behind small holes that shine bright, yellow light through and down to the earth. But my mother slamming metal spoons onto hard surfaces pulls me back to reality.


“Dinner’s ready!” my mother sings. I groan. I don’t even have an appetite. I wait until I hear the rest of my family shuffle into the kitchen and start building their plates. My mother always liked to serve family dinners buffet style. It was easier for everyone with how picky my cousins could be. I hear footsteps starting toward me, and I look up over my shoulder. My mother walks up behind me. She looks at me on the ground and smiles, sending her loving warmth into my body. She meets me at my side and kneels down.


“What are you doing, sweetie? Watching the rain?” she asks, maneuvering until she is sitting next to me on the floor with her arm around my shoulder. I nod in response, looking back at the window. “You know, there will come a day when the sun shines again. Everything eventually comes to an end.”


“It doesn’t feel like it will,” I say, sinking my chin to my knees.


“When the day comes, we will be grateful for its presence. We look forward to it now, and one day will cherish its appearance - celebrate it even,” she says, tucking a stray hair behind my ear. “But if the rain is to stop and the sun shines on forever, the rain never showing its return, won’t you then wish for its arrival again?”


I’m silent, unable to feel pity for the rain. I try to convince myself that this is different, but I can’t find a valid argument. I don’t feel like giving in to my mother’s reassuring words, as kind as they are, so I keep staring ahead, avoiding an answer.


“You know, baby, we sometimes forget to look at the best of what we have. The rain can be thought of as purifying, and you know as well as I do this world needed that,” she continues. 


I can’t deny her statement, but I still don’t say a word, maintaining my stare through the window at the rain. It’s slowed down, to something more like a soft clatter of horse hooves on cobblestone. 


“Come on, honey, let’s get some food in that cute belly of yours,” she says, poking my stomach. I flinch away, but can’t resist the tiny smile stemming from a tickle. She pulls me up with her, and we head to the kitchen, sweet and savory aromas dancing deliciously in the air. My mouth starts to water when I see the pecan pie on the table. I wish I could have the whole thing for myself.


I make a plate of mashed potatoes, fried chicken, baked beans, and mac-n-cheese, grab a dinner roll on the way to the table and sit down next to Max, my youngest cousin. His plate is a sopping mess of cheesy noodles, with only a few pieces of fried chicken drowning in the yellow sea of cheese sauce.


“How did you manage to fit that much mac-n-cheese on one plate?” I joke, nudging him hard with my elbow. He shoves me back and stabs his plate with a fork, a sharp squeal sounding on contact.


I look up at the water glass in front of me and notice a pink tinge to its liquid. I pick it up to observe it closer, but the liquid appears clear when I pull it into view. I look under the glass and all around, searching for the source of color I saw. But nothing – the glass is perfectly clean. I go to set my glass back down and notice a red jewel painted on the table’s surface. I touch it with my fingers, and it jumps on my skin.


Light!

 

I spring up and run to the window, marveling at the beautiful glowing colors of the glass. I touch the smooth surface, tasting the colors with my fingers. I grab the doorknob and yank the door open, running out into the small drizzle that mists the air. The moisture is cold, but the light – it’s warm. The hair on my skin lifts in response, exposing the entirety of my skin. I close my eyes and stretch my arms out, basking in the modest heat. The clouds above continue to part, and the sun’s rays intensify. A shiver runs down my spine as if washing the deeply rooted cold from the depths of my bones, and a new feeling of wholeness starts to fill in the empty spaces. I missed the sun so dearly. I missed this feeling of life.


My mother’s laughter fills my head. She’s out here, too. She’s enjoying the sunshine with me, and that makes me happy. She has been the light for me while the sun was gone, and it’s about time she relishes in that light herself.


“Well, what an unexpected visitor we had for dinner today,” she says, joining me. I let down my arms and look at her, her smile wider than ever before. I pull her in for a hug - thankful to have her here, thankful to have her as my mother, thankful for the sun's radiance on my back.


With my head on her shoulder, I respond. "Unexpected, indeed."

November 30, 2019 02:39

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