After the Rain

They scoured the yard for weeds and gave them to their mother as a bouquet, roots and dirt hanging from the bottom. They decided that flowers needed grass and gave her handfuls of blades like tufts of hair.

The Quiet

You spoke, and I tried to listen, but my mind floated away, and I couldn’t catch it -- it felt like a balloon let loose on a sunny day, seeking the heat of the sun with single-minded fury. I wanted the clouds to soak up my body, for my skin not to feel so tight.

Gone

There was the sweet smell of rain, the mist that caught in my eyelashes, stroked the skin of my cheeks, kissed the bridge of my nose and the backs of my knees as I stood at the end of the dock, begging the lake to wrap me in its cool relief. The water lapped at the edges of the tree roots along the shore, eddied out beneath me in dark, swirling pools.

Falling

As the tension left, I suddenly felt like the wind had been knocked from my chest, as if I had fallen from a swing and very suddenly found myself attached to the ground instead of flying through the air, with black spots across my vision, and my lungs so flat I didn’t think I would breathe again.

Once They Were Up

The two of them ran across the game room, their feet pounding against the floor as if they were giants. They crawled through their vinyl tunnel, stuck their hands through the holes they had torn into it, beckoned one another to come in.

Dinner

The younger one wraps himself around her legs in front of the stove, pulling at her sweatpants, wiping his snot and saliva down the length of her calves like the gummy trails of snails. The oil in the frying pan pops onto her fingers and burns the insides of her wrists and she shouts for the younger one to back away and for the older one to stop jumping, but neither one listens.

Last Night

They fall to the ground as the ball does, and its thud echoes in their small chests like the sound of the front door slamming the night before as their dad left. They lie there and pretend that the clouds will fold them into their warmth.

Spinning

His brother shouted at her to never stop, to keep spinning them forever. He could picture the three of them, spinning as the sun sank and the darkness swallowed them, the night lights turning on and dousing them in their soft glow.

What He Remembers

He woke up in the dark warmth of the car as it started to hail. The chunks of ice popped against the windows, the sharp sound against the glass and the metal of the car like miniature fireworks. The clouds outside looked low and hungry, and when he pressed his hand to the window it left a perfect print of warmth on the glass.

The City

By the time I get to our block, my hands feel numb, the gloves I remembered to bring to work still sitting on my desk next to my computer. I can see the faint outlines of age spots around my knuckles, the skin looser than I remember, chapped and dry.

The Doctor's Appointment

At the desk, I nod hello to the woman and write my name across the sheet on the counter in front of her. She’s round and large chested and her eyes remind me of an owl’s – wide and deep with thick, dark lashes.

The Lake

She listens to the sound of tennis pounding over the paved track, the controlled breath of the runners that pass her by. She can’t walk around the lake without losing her breath, feeling the jolt of the pavement in her hips. Her body hasn’t been the same since having her son, or at least that’s the excuse she gives herself.

Mud

They built streams and rivers and damns. They shouted instructions to the sky and begged for more rain to flood the yard. They studied the clouds and named them based on their size. They searched for ones that looked dark and swollen with water but found none.

Leaf Angels

The boys pile leaves that have fallen into their yard from the neighbors’ trees. They laugh and throw themselves into the piles, opening and closing their arms and legs in great, swooping arcs. “Leaf angels!” they tell her.

Winter

It’s in those moments that she feels him the most — the moments when her breathing slows, and her teeth stop chattering and her skin goes from tingling to numb and the world feels like it is standing still and that if she even breathes she will ruin it.

The Oldest

If he wakes up and the moon is still outside his window, he whispers and rolls them along his dresser, reminding them to move quietly because it’s still too early to be awake. Sometimes he tries to coax them back to bed and they all fall asleep on the floor of his closet or in front of his bookshelf.

The Zoo

He watches them pick through plastic plates piled with fruits and vegetables. A small, long-haired monkey grabs a piece of banana and nibbles the soft part. He wonders if the monkey would also like a pouch of baby food, but neither his mom nor his dad thinks to offer him one.

The Vacation

The baby laughs at the water as he scoops it in his hands and brings it to his mouth like he is about to take a sip. She shakes her head as he looks at her, smiling, and lets the water run down the sides of his palms. She has always been able to communicate with him without speaking.

The Fall Kickoff

They bounced and flung their bodies at the nets around the edges of the bounce house. The younger one shouted and stuck his nose against the palm of their mom’s hand. He bounced towards his brother and tackled him. They toppled and laughed, limbs flying everywhere.

The Ending

You smelled like hay and grass and earth. You told me that we were born of different times. It wasn’t untrue, but I wasn’t ready to believe it. Instead, I kissed your shoulder and closed my eyes with the night.