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.
You gave me just enough to remember the job interview, the greens, and the balance between Stanley and Colleen. I’m so glad you revisited their tale, Meg!
Oh, good. I was a little worried that I was giving either too much or too little background. Thanks, Nate!
Ditto – What Nate said!
Thanks for reading, Thom!
Ah, I liked Stanley and Colleen, and I’m glad to see their story continue. Poor Colleen, though; seeing the future does have its downside.
Yeah, poor Colleen. The grass is always greener, you know. 😉 Thanks for commenting, Michael.
What they ^ said. Plus, I love this line “She wanted to sit with fate, have a cup of coffee, let life unravel messily between them.” That left me with such a clear impression of how she was feeling, maybe because I can relate to that sentiment. Talk about showing instead of telling!
I’m so glad you liked that line, Silverleaf. It was one of those that felt right in my bones. Thanks so much for taking time to read and comment, dear friend.
So well done, with some marvelous details!
Thanks so much!
I like how you’ve explored the implications of having this foresight on daily life; something that often gets overlooked in a treatment of the subject.
And your descriptions really set the scene well; I can see the drought-laden land.
Thanks for picking up on that, Megan. I like to think about how super heroes live in the day-to-day, especially very obscure super heroes like Colleen. 😉 I’m grateful for your reading and comments!
Meg, your descriptions of the land, of Colleen and Stanley, of the porch step gave me so much to build a picture on. The details are wonderful… the crickets that are driving Stanley mad and that he killed, Colleen taking a moment to acknowledge her sadness, her itchy blue suit, her lettering stocking.
There’s so much here that just sets the scene. And what a scene! There’s such a rumble of drama just beneath that very everyday interaction. And how clever to make Colleen such an everywoman with the exception of this extraordinary gift-burden.
I love your writing so much.
Yes: gift-burden. Such an appropriate way to name it. Your lovely comments mean so much — as you know, I’m a big fan of your writing, Asha. Thank you for your kind attention to every word. <3
Oh, I remember these characters! I like them and the story 🙂
Janna! So nice to see your friendly comment. Thanks for reading!
Yay, a new post from Pigspittle:0))). Always refreshing and original!
Beth! I love your new studio. Thanks for stopping by and reading. Means a lot.
So happy to see Stanley and Colleen again! I love how you entwine the “big” and the “small”–
She sensed he viewed her as part goddess, part oracle
wearing an itchy blue suit and white blouse with the flouncy bow, stretched her legs and snagged her hose on the rough step risers