Colleen burst through the front door and into the kitchen where Stanley was sweeping the floor of cricket carcasses. He turned to Colleen and apologized. “I couldn’t take the chirping anymore.”
The dustpan of crickets saddened Colleen and she briefly forgot the reason for her rushing.
“You’re home early,” Stanley said. “How’d the interview go?”
Colleen coughed from the insecticide and took his hand. “Let’s talk outside.”
They sat down on the porch landing. Colleen, wearing an itchy blue suit and white blouse with the flouncy bow, stretched her legs and snagged her hose on the rough step risers. “I’m hoping I won’t need to wear these again,” she whispered to herself, then blurted, “Stanley, it’s gonna rain. Hard. For days, maybe.”
“Really. How do you know?”
“The greens. I saw a vision above Ms. Welker’s—the temp agency lady’s—head. It was pouring buckets!” The “greens,” as Colleen called them, were green-tinted glimpses into the future that hovered over the heads of everyone. Only Colleen could see them, although family legend had it that others among the Keenes’ ancestors saw them too.
“Coll, you told me the greens stopped. And even if you did see something, how do you know it’s gonna rain soon? What if it’s one of those far-off visions?”
“When? About what?”
“I lied about the greens disappearing. I never stopped seeing them.” Colleen bit her lip and looked out across the road at the rows of skeletons, the bony spines of soybean plants. The sun burned her skin as it seared across the sky in late afternoon.
“Why?” Stanley put on his baseball cap and pulled it down to shade his eyes.
“Why did I lie?” Colleen repeated the question to buy herself a few seconds. “Umm. Everything was so bleak? Everything I saw was sad or dangerous or scorched.”
“You saw all this?” Stanley raised his voice, gestured to the rubble and withered stalks across the road. “You knew it was coming and you didn’t warn me? We could’ve sold this place, Colleen. We could’ve cut our losses. It’ll take us two years—at least—to get caught up.”
Colleen drew up her knees, buried her face in her hands. She had spent most of her life fighting for control of her destiny, not wanting every step to be directed by images floating over the heads of others—from those she loved to total strangers. She was tired of reacting to things before they even happened, exhausted by the constant vigilance and the need to interpret images. For years, she knew that Stanley depended on her foresight for every decision. When quitting his job in the city or putting in a new crop, Stanley looked at Colleen, expecting divination. She sensed he viewed her as part goddess, part oracle.
While this gift came in handy for things like buying a car, it was a burden, most especially when the vision pointed her in the opposite direction of her heart. She wanted to be wrong. She wanted to be unreliable. She wanted to sit with fate, have a cup of coffee, let life unravel messily between them.
The news of impending rain, she hoped, would soften Stanley’s disappointment in her. He stood up and walked into the house without speaking. Colleen sat, pulled at the outside corners of her eyes and squinted to gain a fresh view of the field beyond, to see verdant land. A brighter shade of green.