BY LIBBY TAYLOR
It was the first truly rainy morning in months. The drought had shown us very little mercy and the heat had been unbearable. Our air conditioner’s avalanche-like rumble had changed from a reminder of our ever-climbing bill to a constant companion and acceptance of extra shifts. But this morning, over its shaky fan unit, I could hear rain patting the roof.
I rolled over to see a white-gray sky and rain trailing down the window. Not a heavy rain that would wash out all the cracked-dry soil for tens of miles, but a little sweet rain that would hopefully mark the beginning of the end.
Carefully getting out of bed as to not disturb Kevin with the cat sleeping on his feet, I went into the living room to turn off the tired old machine. I could not believe how quiet the apartment suddenly sounded. I did not realize that all this time all the items on the shelves to either side had been vibrating ever so slightly. The windowsill below the unit had been shaking in its constraints, the wood around the nails burrowed out from the continuous earthquake contained in our 1800 square feet.
I opened the bottom half of each eight foot window and let the damp cool air spill in. I set towels on the sills but did not consider that I should wait for the rain to stop—I never wanted it to stop. I wanted it to rain from our ceiling, pour over the bookshelves pressed against every wall. I wanted water to come up from the floor and fill up our impossibly dry, perpetually dusty flat.
I picked up my watering can from under the table we pushed up against the window for the view at meals and felt the satisfaction of filling it over and over again. I over-watered the few houseplants I had justified keeping through the water restrictions because ferns are cooling and clean the air. All stuffed onto the sill by the table were the plants that could not survive on so little water: three strains of mint, lemon grass, and a trough of little mushrooms long shriveled by their relocation. The mint would be brought back but the rest were compost bound. I kept watering them little by little long after their deaths in hopes that the drought would end and they would come back. After cleaning up all the water spilling out from the under-liners of the ferns, I put the water on for coffee. I scanned my shelves for a little paperback novel I had picked up during the summer and found it knocked behind others with a horde of tiny red and gold Buddha figurines we had hidden from the cat months ago.
I drank the entire eight cup press full of hot coffee, reveling in the fact that it finally felt good to feel warm. Curled up in the overstuffed loveseat with a light knitted blanket, I spent the day reading, listening to the rain, cuddling the cat, and loving Kevin. The novel was good, the sex was better, and I did not attend my classes that day.