The rain came with little fanfare. A rusty fan, to scare the birds, tittered from a slight breeze ushering the dawn.
Charlie watched drops send concentric waves across the bucket tops and overturned garbage-can lids, already filled from the day before. He'd get around to cleaning up the mess, he could convince himself. Progress would arrive, once the sun returned; but now with her letter in hand, any sun would provide no warmth.
Sipping the shards of yesterday's coffee, he reread her words in the crepuscular calm. The cold crawled along the concrete floor and up his feet. Charlie shifted in his chair. By afternoon another thirty degrees would stoke the thermometer, opening more blossoms and spreading the lupine spikes, her favorite. How many thoughts make a mind? she used to say-the kind of fortune cookie comments they'd mixed with cosmopolitans at the club. They'd said lots of shit like that back then. Some thoughts more than others, always his reply.
Morning yawned to afternoon, more cups of coffee and blank stares at his sketchbook. He'd like to fill it with flowers, flood it with balsamroot, the wild sunflowers that clotted his hillside, nature's Van Gogh. In his drawing the flowers would swirl with gold-tipped saw blades. His faithful readers, well-bedded from his previous picture books of four-leaf clover towns and lamb-spotted hills might not pick up on the prickly turn in his humor.
The sunflowers inhaled the sun and exhaled what? Charlie tried: hope? Happiness? What rhymes with photosynthesis, he thought, that a five-to-nine-year old would understand? Photos of sin? That's what the sunburned flowers would cough up from their tight little seed heads. He missed his sketchbooks-she'd damaged most of them, and what remained was nothing he could use for Vole Voilà Express, the book on field mice he was trying to finish. The hillside was getting steeper and his deadline accelerating.
A hummingbird buzzed the currant bush and then dashed for the sky. Maybe he could weave that into the story, Charlie thought, how the hummingbird tries so hard to impress his potential mate, zooming forty, fifty feet straight up and then Bam! Right back in your face, inches away. And to make sure she gets the point, he does it again and again. Charlie felt exhausted just watching. A few minutes later the red flowers struggled and shook as the tiny creature, weaving like notes in a musical score, flitted and paused, its long tongue dashing down each blossom's throat.
M C R
This work is copyrighted by the author, David Melody. All rights reserved.