This story excerpt is based on rural America and the people that live there.
The rains are coming. I am certain of it. I imagine I can hear the distant rumble of grey storm clouds on the horizon, and the pitter-patter of water drumming on the corrugated iron roof.
It’s still pitch-black outside, so there’s no seeing if I am right and if there really is a storm on the horizon, but I have lived out here since I was born, and I have learnt to feel it ‘in my bones’ as people tend to say.
Well, we’re all hoping for some rain. The dust that settles on my window frame and on my mattress makes my nose itch and my eyes water. At least a nice big downpour would wash it all away.
I can hear the distant lowing of our cattle. They need some rain too, to make the grass grow green and thick and lush. Before long the sky lightens a bit, just enough for me to see out into the reddish-brown plains of dirt and scrubland. The rickety barns that hold our animals (mainly sheep and cows) and shelter them from the vicious outback weather are like irregular dark blotches on the horizon.
The chooks are rustling and starting to wake up-their coop is just beneath my bedroom window and I can hear the clucking as the hens start to shift in their beds of straw. I hope they’ve laid some eggs overnight-I really fancy an egg for breakfast.
Mom’s alarm goes off in the other room, and she yawns and moans and then I hear the shuffle of slippers as she comes down the hall to wake me up. I leap back into bed, pull the musty sheets up to my chin and screw my eyes tightly shut, pretending to be fast asleep.
“Harper? Are you awake yet, love?” Mom murmurs from the door. She treads softly across the creaky wooden floorboards to my bed. I hardly dare breathe, trying to smother my giggle. Then she bends down and kisses the tip of my nose, her long hair tickling my neck. “Wakey wakey sweetheart. It’s time to get up,” She says and deftly pulls back the blankets. I squirm as the cool morning air hits my skin. “Okay okay, I’m coming.” I groan. I swing upright and rub my face blearily.
Sheltie, our rough collie, trots into the room, pausing by the door for a moment with cocked ears, and then sticks her cold wet nose into my ear, snuffling as if she might find some hidden treat in there. “Eww, Sheltie, no.” I laugh and push her away, which is hard because she’s so big and fluffy. She sits by my feet, eager and waiting, her eyes sparkling. “Alright, alright.” I go over to my wardrobe and take out some grass-stained dungarees. “Whaddya think?” I ask, holding them up. I sniff them gingerly. “Smells all right.”
Sheltie’s tail thumps the floor. I put on the dungarees and lace up my boots. “Come on girl!” I call and lead the way out. Mom is cooking something in the kitchen. It smells deliciously like egg. Perhaps the chooks did lay something after all! She looks up as I pass her on my way to the front door and brandishes the sizzling saucepan. “Be back in time for brekkie!” she yells after me. Sheltie dashes between my legs, stirring up dust as she races joyfully round in circles, barking at the empty sky.