When the sky opened, I panicked and made it worse. The wind picked up and the deluge was now a low grade hurricane. The corn in the adjacent field laid itself flat having not evolved to survive straight line winds.
The house began to tremble in the wind. Hundred year old floor boards sang and popped under the stress. The windows rattled and the cat, already disturbed by the copper scent on the air and the smoke, ran for what sanctuary could be found under the couch. His whimpering was audible above the drone of the wind buffeting this whole town.
I slumped to the floor, all of the techniques I’d practiced with my Gran forgotten. The rain hit the ground harder than any Midwestern rain that had ever fallen, mirroring the tears that came hot and fast streaking my face with the eyeliner and mascara I’d carefully applied to “gussy up,” Gran’s words remembered, for our anniversary dinner.
We’d planned to drive two hours to Des Moines to celebrate ten married years. There were no children to rush off to parents and a neighbor had offered to do the morning chores so we could spend the night in the city. We’d eaten beans two nights a week for the last two months to have the extra cash.
I’d taken his sport coat, the same one he’d worn to the courthouse to get married, off the hanger and watched him put it on. I slipped my hands in his front pockets like I’d done hundreds of times before standing on my toes to kiss him. There was a crumpled paper in his pocket.
It was open in my hand before he realized I had it. My breath halted when I read the words written in a woman’s loopy scrawl. “Last night was lovely. I can’t wait for a time when you don’t have to leave before the sun is up.”
My hands had begun to shake just as the sky visible through the wide-slat windows began to darken. When I looked up into his face it was as dark my thoughts.
“What is this? Who is she? All that time you said you were helping Tom catch up on chores while his son was sick? The auction in Iowa City? You were with someone?” The words came out all at once, hardly a space between to understand.
He swallowed and said it was nothing. He was looking at the worn rug beneath our feet, at the cat, at the kitchen door, at anything but me.
“You’re lying. You always swallow like that when you lie.” There was venom in the words now, and pain. I could feel the pieces of my life slipping away from me, “when were you going to tell me?”
“Sometime this week, tomorrow. I don’t know. I didn’t want to ruin our anniversary for you. You were so excited.”
“Are you leaving then? Do you love her?”
“Yes. And yes,” he had deflated visibly with each word. “She’s pregnant.”
White anger exploded inside of me and my heart broke. A bolt of lightning crashed through the front window, searing him in the chest. The force of it threw him against the breakfront his mother had given us as a wedding present. He must’ve hit the corner with his head.
He crumpled to the floor, whisks of smoke curling off his clothes, a pool of blood spreading under him. The room telescoped away from me and my head rang from the shock of being so close to the lightning. Every cell in my body wanted to fling open the front door and run, but I knew what I had done.
The storm was taking the shingles off the roof. Some part of the house splintered as it lost its fight with the elements. The only thing that could stop this now was me. I picked myself up off the floor and crossed the room to the front door. I only had to turn the handle for it to crash inside with the force of the storm. Rain and hail invaded the house and soaked me to the skin. I pushed against it out onto what was left of the porch.
There was darkness beyond the stairs. The rain and debris being hurled about blocked what was left of the dusk light. I waited for a bolt to take me. Asked one to come for me and end this.
Instead the wind died down and the rain stopped. The storm calmed as quickly as it had come. In my resignation to die, I had calmed myself enough. I sat on or fell to the porch boards, empty.
Gran said I should never lose control. Only bad things could come of it. She also said it would die with me unless I had a daughter. I chose to never risk it and let a man love me without telling him the truth.
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