I like the rain. I like the pitter patter that overhangs the hush as all things become muted and quiet and soft. Sometimes I even like being caught out amongst the storm, the water sliding down my skin, sending shivers and goosebumps spiralling down my spine. Washing away everything else.
Except this time.
This time the storm isn’t enough to wash away the grease that clings to my hands as I try to turn the nuts loose on the flat tire. The storm was rough, and worsening with every passing moment. Wind ripped through the trees, dragging my sopping shirt around my body with ferocious ease.
Raindrops stung my face. Branches whipped around the car. Thunder rumbled.
The sky quietened, the rain lightening just a moment. A bolt of lightning cracked overhead, the boom reverberating through tree trunks, down to the ground and up through my bones.
Time to give up on the tire and get back in the damn car.
I shake my head free of water—or as free of it as I can get after the downpour. I scrounge around under the passenger seat for a towel and come up with an old shirt. I sigh. At least it’s dry.
Then I crawl into the backseat and decide to wait out the storm with a nap. There’s really not a whole lot else I can do. My phone is flat. If there wasn’t a cyclone looming in the distance I’d just jog to the nearest service station, but somehow I think that would be a bad idea in this weather.
At least none of the trees are too close to the car, so I don’t have to worry about getting squashed. So I settle down in the backseat next to the bundle of fur that’s currently shivering and pretending the world doesn’t exist. I shake my head, shove Sammy over a bit, and make myself comfortable.
It’s going to be a long evening.
The hard patter of heavy raindrops splattering down into a spray of rivers and currents cascading down the windshield is both comforting and frightening.
I close my eyes, sliding my arm over my eyes as I let the sounds wash over me. The old paddock basher shudders as the wind strains against it, howling in protest at the rust bucket that dared enter it’s path.
A high pitched whine—half muffled by the backseat and the fabric of my shirt—erupts from somewhere around my midsection.
Fur and whiskers tickle my ribs where Sammy has managed to burrow passed my shirt in an attempt to hide from the worsening storm. I scratch at his ears, keeping my breathing even and calm, relaxing my body next to his.
Cautiously, Sammy lifts his head to stare at me with large brown eyes.
His nose is speckled in grey furs, spattering out noticeably amongst the rest of his black fur. The rain, if possible, becomes even heavier, and Sammy shudder’s, ears flattening to the back of his head.
I give him another scratch, shifting my hand to under his chin where I know he likes it best.
Outside the world has disappeared into a void of indistinct greys. The rain is so heavy, I can’t even see the jacaranda tree I’m parked five metres from.
Thunder crackles and booms, sparks of light occasionally lighting up the greyness.
After an hour or so I spot a leak in the back door seal. I only notice because the water drips down on to my forehead and startles me awake. I scowl up at the window and lean up to have another look outside.
Water. Endless torrents of water.
I sigh. I glance at Sammy, who’s head is resting on my stomach. ‘Not near a bridge at least.’ I sign to him. He stares back at me, completely uncomprehending of course.
I wonder if I could teach Sammy to respond to sign language. Most dog training is based on hand gestures, and there was that story on the internet about an orang-utan that learnt sign language.
Thunder shakes the car and Sammy whimpers again, shuffling his body around and trying to burrow beneath me. I laugh, but my gaze flickers back outside.
No bridges, a couple of trees, and the car is old and heavy—but none of that means anything if someone comes driving along the old highway. They’d be crazy to, of course. It’s far to dangerous to be on the road, but when had that ever stopped anyone?
If they didn’t see us, we’d clean up pretty well—even pulled over as we were.
I sigh again and try not to think about it. Nothing I can do at this point except ride it out. I wonder how much longer it’ll last.
My thoughts drift. Absently I reach for my pocket, toying with the letter there that’s no doubt beyond salvation, as wet as I got trying to change the tire. I don’t bother pulling it out. It’ll probably rip apart.
It doesn’t matter. After reading it several dozen times in the four weeks since I’d gotten the letter, I have it memorised.
It’s been five years. I figure we should talk. There are some things I want to tell you.
Deep breath in, roll onto my side, scratch Sammy behind the ears, and let it all out with exaggerated slowness.
I am calm.
As calm as I can be when my older, psychotic brother suddenly wants to have a heart to heart from jail.
‘What do I do?’ I ask Sammy, who just stares me unhappily from my mid-section as another crackling boom shakes through the car.
I know instinctively that I shouldn’t go. He wants my attention so he can mess with my head. That’a what he does. What he’s always done.
Yet…yet I want answers.
There are questions burning within me. Have been burning ever since that night when they took him away, and took her to emergency.
I sigh and shift uncomfortably on the backseat. Another crackle of lightning echoes my disintegrating mood.
Questions or not, how can I talk to him when I can’t speak?
I sit up abruptly, startling Sammy. With a silent snarl I pull the sodden letter from my pocket, scrunch it up and yank open the leaking door.
Sammy scuttles away from the billowing rain and howling wind as I pull back my arm and toss the crumpled soggy ball of paper out into the storm, slamming the door shut again as if I can shut it all out.
Time to forget James and his stupid letter. Let the storm take the damn thing and tear it into nothingness. All I had to do was go back to pretending he didn’t exist.
That was all.
That was for the best.