Editorâ€™s Note: â€œCracks in the Cloudsâ€ is a piece of creative non-fiction. All of the events in the story are true. This is the seventh part of a nine-part series that will run weekly in the Collegianâ€™s Verve section.
By Tuesday I hadnâ€™t told my father or mother what happened.
I slept with my eyes and ears open. My dad called me skittish. My sister called me nervous.
I stared at Clay on the bus but said nothing. I glared my evil glare. After having the weekend to think, I thought it was probably just the dead Indian ghosts. I wanted it to be the dead Indian ghosts.
They didnâ€™t wave when I walked to their pickup after getting off the bus. Mary had on her gardening gloves; they had a dark pink floral pattern on them. Her hands sat still on the Nissanâ€™s steering wheel.
The car ride was silent. Joan rubbed my back from the passenger seat looking straight ahead with her other hand holding a cigarette and the dashboard. Joanâ€™s stone bracelets jingled rubbing my back. Her silver rings glistened in the sun.
The dust rising from the truck tires put a fog into the cab. The dashboard collected it. My fingers played with the strings on my backpack.
I searched Joan and Maryâ€™s faces for smiles. Joan looked older. Maryâ€™s hair looked longer. Parking the truck, Mary told me to run into the house and find a snack in the pantry and come into the garden after.
I found chips and an apple on the windowsill above the sink. With my hands full and JohnLuke following me out the back door, I found the couple gardening quietly in the backyard.Â
Two large cottonwoods hung over them. A few dead golden leaves dangled from the weathered branches. The bark was almost black.
The trees had been there to watch the U.S. Cavalry and Indians fight. A white picket fence framed their garden. They grew carrots, onions, sunflowers and cabbage.
Their knees were in the dirt. Mary wore gloves but Joan didnâ€™t. Behind them was the valley my parents lived in.
It looked empty from the garden. It looked like nothing mattered down there. I sat on the rusted blue aluminum chair. My feet swung back and forth under the seat. Only the tips of my toes touching the pavement.
I liked the sound it made, the rubber scraping the concrete patio. The breeze that swept through the dead treeâ€™s limbs played like a symphony among the collected silence. Clip. Scuff. Clip clap. Scuff. Clash, hush-
â€œHave the lights come back?â€ I asked breaking the silence, stopping the pulsating sway of my shoes. They lifted their heads from the soil at the same time.
Mary dropped a carrot into the basket. Joan wiped her brow with the outside of her wrist and squinted through the silence. They looked at each other.
I bit my apple. The world stopped. The crunching of the apple in my mouth fell silent along with the late afternoon breeze.
It felt like the world perked its ears to my question. I lowered my head to the invisible audience and listened. The crowds around me took their seat.
Staff writer Lucas Dean FiÅ¡er can be reached at email@example.com.