This is my 4th public submission for Creativity Boot Camp. The exercise for today was to break your own rules. To do something that makes you uncomfortable in changing your normal habits. For me, in writing short stories, I can't seem to leave a piece unless it has a happy ending. I want the good to prevail, everywhere. But...sometimes it doesn't. So today, I bucked my system. Ready?
The sky outside was doing something spectacular.
Standing in her kitchen, she was overcome with the urgency of needing to be out there, under the clouds instead of a plastered ceiling. She needed space between her head and all the noise of a life that was sliding away into a place she'd never wanted to be. Without looking around for permission or explanation, she walked to the door, opened it, and stepped outside.
From where she stood on the porch, she closed her eyes and smelled the metallic air -- a storm was coming. Looking out over the back field, she saw confirmation of a sky in turmoil. The clouds were low and pressing, undulating with a fluidity she hadn't ever noticed in clouds before. Instead of puffy or inflated, these clouds were like the underside of a calm river's surface. They made dips and divots, dimples and waves. They slid together and stretched apart, never breaking or tearing, only forming themselves according to their surroundings and to the air currents which must have been pummeling them from all sides.
These clouds, she thought, are hanging in suspense -- like even they don't know what's about to happen.
And they mirrored her state of mind perfectly. She was suspended over currents of feeling, buoyed up by fluid waves of expectation. She hadn't lost a single tear, hadn't broken against a choppy wind, hadn't yet been torn by the truth
She still didn't know the truth.
Her husband, the man she'd loved and supported and followed, was not here. Instead, in his place, were other people. All gathered under that stifling ceiling with hopes of hearing good news about his situation, those people waited. They had that right, she knew. She didn't hold the rights to him as a precious commodity, even though she wanted to. Over the past 3 days, there had been a dozen times that, in her head, she'd screamed and raged and kicked everyone out of her house so the silence and wondering could be hers alone.
Why she hadn't thought to step away from it all until now, though, was a mystery. Staring into the oddly clouded sky, she wished she'd been out here all along. The air blew against her chest and cleared the shaking that had resided there for days. Despite the brewing storm, she felt calm. Like she was on the edge of a place where, once the first step had been taken, she'd no longer need to see where she was going. She'd be perfectly safe to only feel her way.
Feeling her way was the exact opposite of how she'd lived since hearing of her husband's disappearance. She'd operated with rote actions, neither daring to hope nor fear.
Above the far edges of the field, the river-like clouds began changing. Their fluid swells and dips had started to bleed together around the edges. Fuzzy outlines replaced smoothly delineated dimples. A few trees against the far side of the land had turned up their leaves, revealing their silvery side -- ready for change. She felt change in her chest as surely as she saw it on the horizon. Soon, she knew, something would be gone forever. Whether that thing was her past or her future, she couldn't decide.
Quickly, she shook her head to clear her mind. If information was about to change her life -- and somehow, she knew it was -- she wanted to be ready for it. She closed her eyes, layed her head against the porch's wooden column, and remembered a time and place of complete happiness. There was warmth there, wrapped in heavy arms and legs. There was soft skin against a stubbled jaw, whispered promises and bruised lips. There was comfort. There were quiet demands and fears unraveled. There was hope and life and a solid, real truth that had become a soft, welcoming certainty. There was love.
Inside, voices murmured and swelled. They attempted normalcy, but respected gravity. Then, pealing from a far room, a telephone rang. All noise stopped as those gathered to wait became silent.
She moved to the edge of the porch, lowered herself to the grass, and stood under the wide open sky. The broken and smoky clouds had overtaken most of the sky's previous fluid-like underbelly, and the wind had picked up. No longer steady and constant, it shifted and crashed around her. It tore at her hair and clung to her body before dashing away again.
As the back door opened behind her, a scattered few, fat drops of rain splashed to the ground.
She let her emotions take over then, finally. Her shoulders slumped, her knees buckled, and she knelt into the grass. Feeling the cool earth and crumbly dirt beneath her fingertips, she leaned her head back and let the cold raindrops splash over her own new fallen tears.
She knew the truth now, spoken clearly in the silence of whomever had just stepped out the door behind her. If that someone had shouted and yelled...if the people in her house had erupted into cries of relief....but they hadn't. The truth of their silence torn her.
Her future -- the life she'd planned and expected -- was changed as surely as if a storm had blown across its promise.
She let the rain fall over herself, fully expecting to seep into the ground.
To be washed away.
To flood the land with her sadness.