Sometime through the night, the rain stopped. I wasn’t aware I had fallen asleep. I could hear the rainwater drip drip drip on the porch, almost in time to the clock. The sky was a muddy color, with deep threads of yellow running through like stitchwork. A boiling color. This was a respite, and a storm might be forthcoming, but it was something I had been waiting on since this summer began. Cooler temperatures, nourished soil, a wind to cut the heavy dullness of the air.
I could not see the clock from where I sat. The only light was from the discolored night. I waited, thinking only about the weather, the rain, the way the corn would flourish and turn green. I could smell the damp soil, and it was a rich smell, a womanly smell. I imagined flowers in my garden, and birds plucking blades of grass in the yard, a more benevolent sun. I tried hard not to think about my dead husband. He would have been excited by the rain. He would get up early and sit on the porch and watch it gather on the horizon, a visible line that followed the compass. He would breathe in the air, and flex his hands to prepare for the work ahead. He would sit in his chair with a mug of coffee, a bandana around his neck, work gloves in his back pocket, and sniff the air like a coyote.
And he would smell smoke.