Local Weather

It was drizzling, visibility low, and the game had gone on and on as little league games do, and then, finally, it was called, one lightning strike too many to bear liability and good sense. Under the eaves of the hot dog stand, it was dry, and we stood waiting for the collection of balls and bats and gloves when I saw them: a mother in shorts and tank top, ponytail swinging behind a ball-cap, her face like any face in a wall of faces lining any colonnade. She was holding a child’s hand attached not to an arm, but a shoulder—both limbs foreshortened—fingers emerging from them and waving, inarticulate as anemones out of water. His face was turned to the right in a permanent tilt as if something had caught his attention, a foul ball, say, the kind when everyone yells, heads up! and we all do—looking for where it will land, hoping not on us, but curious to see where it will. His gaze went on too long and his eyes registered a cool nothing staring up into the sky. She had an umbrella, but it was as if the rain had stopped just for them, yet his thirsty mouth didn’t know it, and it gaped and trembled, all orifice, open as if he wanted to swallow the wet air, as if he were an ocean creature, beached and drowning. The weather was suddenly different, as if the sun was shining from the ground up, illuminating a short radius around them which touched me not like lightning, but like the man who once, in Woods Hole, saw between a sand bar and the shore, a school of whip-tailed rays caught in the receding tide, churning in the shallows uncertain, mute; they shouldn’t have been there, but were, and the thrashing brought a small crowd to watch. The man dared to enter the water and lifted them, one by one over the sand bar while we witnessed. He left, amazingly with no wound at all. Under the eaves, we all stood waiting to collect our perfect sons, salient, dumbly pleased, telling each other stories, recounting good plays and bad, predicting their futures. In my body, a small cloister opened and closed again. My son touched my arm, collecting me. It was like coming home, and the local weather was just what I expected it to be.

Laura McCullough | Mudlark No. 32
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